Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Roasted Vegetable Lasagna

Lasagna is one of those recipes that people call comfort food. It’s warm, with gooey cheese, and a fresh blend of ingredients. As you know, I love making healthy dishes, and have an extra fondness for dishes with lots of color. I was craving lasagna after making my classic, easy recipe for Spinach Lasagna for a friend. Because I gave it away, we didn’t get to eat it. And I think The Boy was a bit disappointed. I promised him I’d make another. So, the weekend rolled around and I had time to devote to a more labor-intensive dish, and also found myself with a plethora of fresh zucchini and squash from my CSA box. (I know I sound like a broken record always talking about my CSA box, but I really do plan our meals around what veggies we get from it.) I’d been wanting to make a lasagna that I could pack EVEN MORE nutritious veggies into by layering the zucchini and squash in.

I turned to this recipe as my guide and inspiration. I’m really glad I took the time to make the tomato sauce instead of just using a jarred pasta sauce. Even though I always used the best jarred sauce, I really like the way the tomatoes and tomato flavor stands out in a homemade version. Plus, it’s cheaper!

Another awesome flavor in this lasagna, is the roasted squash & zucchini. I just adore roasted vegetables. When I sliced the zucchini and squash, I sliced them a little too thin. I forget how they tend to shrink up a little when roasting. So next time I’m do thicker slices. I also threw in mushrooms, as another nutritious filling addition.

Instead of following the original recipe’s suggestion for the filling, I used one based from my other lasagna. I think I could make that one in my sleep! And finally, I used REAL, fresh mozzarella this time, instead of the cheap shredded dry kind. If I’m saving calories by making this meatless, and including all those nutritious veggies, I think it’s totally ok to have the real, moist mozzerella, as opposed to a pre-shredded 2% version.

By now, most of you probably aren’t still reading this, because I’ve rambled on and on. But I must say, this lasagna turned out FABULOUS! I really could taste all the extra details, from the tomatoes, to the roasted vegetables, and most importantly the cheese. This won’t be the only lasagna I cook from now on, as the other one is simpler and faster to prepare; but this will be the one for when I have the time and ingredients to dedicate to preparing. Both deserve space in my tummy.


Roasted Vegetable Lasagna

heavily adapted and heavily influenced by The Kitchen Sink
also adapted from Spinach Lasagna, a previous post


Tomato Sauce
1 medium onion
4 cloves of garlic (you can use less, I just like garlic!)
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes (or more if you like it!)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 28 oz cans whole tomatoes (optional suggestion, use one can of fire roasted tomatoes)

1 15 oz container part skim ricotta cheese
1 egg beaten
1 10 oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 cups sliced mushrooms
salt & pepper as much or little as you like

Additional Ingredients
3-4 zucchinis and squash, sliced
additional chile flakes
italian herb seasoning (oregano, rosemary, thyme, etc)
fresh mozzarella, sliced (mine was a 5 oz "ball")
lasagna noodles of choice (whether it be homemade, fresh, the non-boil kind, or the kind you boil; I went with the boil kind, whole wheat OF COURSE!)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese


Prepare tomato sauce: Heat oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Saute onion & garlic. As those begin to soften, add fennel seeds and chile flakes. Cook 3-4 minutes, add the cans of tomatoes. Simmer and puree, or just roughly break up with a wooden spoon (my preferred method).

While the tomato sauce is simmering, prepare the roasted vegetables. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and arrange the vegetables on a cookie sheet sprayed with olive oil nonstick spray, in an even layer. Sprinkle them with salt, pepper, chili flakes, dried herbs seasoning, and roast for 25-30 minutes until done.

Prepare the filling. Beat the eggs, add in ricotta, spinach, 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, mushrooms, salt and pepper, and combine well.

Prepare the noodles if necessary. (I always boil mine in a large skillet, about 4-5 at a time.)

Layer ingredients in a 9x13 pan in the following order: sauce, pasta, filling, veggies, cheese, until you reach the top of the pan. Layer with remaining noodles, sauce, mozzarella cheese, and parmesan cheese. Bake at 425° for 35 to 45, until top is brown and bubbly. Remove from oven and let rest 20 minutes before serving.

Alternatively, you can wrap tightly with foil, and then plastic wrap, and freeze. To reheat, thaw in refrigerator, then place in oven, and turn oven on to 425° for 45 minutes, until top is brown and bubbly. Let rest 20 minutes before serving.

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