Vegetable Lasagna

Ok, so lasagna most definitely is not from the Caucasus.  But I have yet to meet someone from there that doesn't love it!
This is my version of a meatless lasagna.  I'm not a huge fan of mushrooms, so for a protein boost, I used chick peas.  Kale gives it color and has great nutritional value.   However, this meal is by no means low fat.  I use whole milk mozzarella because it tends to melt better and tastes wonderful.  And for an occasional treat, that's fine!


Ingredients:
  • 1 15 oz can chick peas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 8 oz cans tomato sauce
  • 1 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • dried thyme
  • dried oregano
  • fennel seeds, crushed
  • 1/2 oz fresh basil
  • 5 oz shredded kale
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • red wine
  • curly-edged lasagna noodles
  • 15 oz part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 lb whole milk mozzarella cheese, sliced thin
  • 1 egg
  • 1 oz parsley

Heat oven to 375°F (190°C).

Boil the noodles until they are al dente.  (For those who prefer pasta that is cooked until it is not so firm, remember that the noodles will soak up some sauce and soften even more while they cook in the oven.)  Drain them and set them aside.

Meanwhile, finely chop the onions and carrots.  Saute both in olive oil.



 While the onions and carrots are cooking, finely chop your garlic.  You can use a garlic press for this, or, if you are like me, you can use the side of a large knife to smash it (lay the side of the knife on the garlic, and then give it a good smack with your hand).  And then chop it into small pieces.  This method releases tension.


 Add the garlic and dried spices and saute until just fragrant.  Then you should pour in a generous amount (about a glassful) of red wine.  I used a Shiraz, but any dry red will do.



 Let the wine reduce and then add the diced tomatoes, sauce and paste.  


Add all of the kale and basil; cook until the kale has wilted.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Next combine the ricotta, egg, chopped parsley and 1/2 cup Parmesan in a bowl.  If it looks too dry (mine did) add a splash of milk.  This will help it to stay nice and moist in the lasagna. 

 

Now we are ready to assemble the lasagna!  In a 9 x 13 baking dish, spread a little of the sauce on the bottom.  Then lay three noodles on top of that.  Splat some of the ricotta mixture on top of the noodles and spread it around somewhat evenly.


 Spoon on some of the sauce and spread it over the ricotta.  Then cover that with a layer of mozzarella slices.


Repeat that layer with more pasta, ricotta, sauce and mozzarella.  If you still have more sauce at the end, spread it over the top of the mozzarella.

Bake on the middle rack for 30-35 minutes.  It should get bubbly and brown on top and the cheese should melt deliciously.
Sprinkle on the remaining 1/2 cup of Parmesan toward the end of the baking time and let that melt too.
 Let it stand about ten minutes or so before cutting.  That will help it stay together as you try to slide the pieces onto a plate for serving.  Garnish with a little chopped parsley and enjoy with a fresh salad.

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