Vegetable Lasagna (a.k.a. Alena’s Lasagna)


veggie-lasagna

Happy hump day, everybody! Let me tell you what I made for dinner last night. Alena, a very good friend of mine (and the one I gave some homemade Nutella to), is trying to watch what she eats (what’s wrong with me???). She made this recipe for me last Friday when I came over to watch a movie together at her house. It was so good I couldn’t believe she made it with… wait for it… low-fat cottage cheese! Yes, it was a “skinny” recipe.

Of course, I had to make it at home ASAP! Don’t get me wrong, I watch what I eat too (a little less so during the holiday season) but I am very much against any low-fat or any-other-low kind of stuff. After all, what’s that 1-hour tabata workout every other day for? 😉 And so I used a 4%-fat cottage cheese. Oh, by the way, I used to think that cottage cheese was kinda “meh”. And , importantly, it shouldn’t be confused with what is known as farmers’ cheese in the States (grave, grave mistake at a certain point in my life!) Well, I have to send a message out there: this stuff is awesome!!! Creamy, salty… I think I am going to quit labneh for a while.

I tweaked the original recipe a little to adjust for what I had on hand. I used frozen thawed spinach instead of fresh stuff. I sauteed it and mixed it with cottage cheese and an egg. I did not use grated carrots but knock yourself out if you want. The original recipe called for marinara sauce, which I did not have, but I did have a can of Italian plum tomatoes in the pantry. If you are using a 25 oz jar of marinara, don’t add the onion and garlic, and cook it for 10-15 minutes.

I have to give a salt warning here: remember that your cottage cheese is salty, and so is your Parmesan, and so may be your canned tomatoes! Proceed with caution and you will be rewarded with delicious goodness! 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 9 lasagna noodles
  • Olive oil
  • 1 lb chopped frozen spinach, thawed
  • 4 cloves garlic, divided
  • 1/3 teaspoon red pepper flakes, divided
  • 2 cups cottage cheese (I used 4% but feel free to use lower-fat options)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 small or medium sweet onion, diced
  • 2 yellow squash, cut in half lengthwise and then into 1/4-inch slices on the bias
  • 10 oz sliced mushrooms
  • 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes, pureed in a blender
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt, black pepper
  • 1/2 cup (or more) freshly ground Parmesan

Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil with 1 tablespoon salt and a splash of oil. Add the lasagna noodles and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat some olive oil and in a large saute pan. Add red pepper flakes, then thawed drained spinach.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Squeeze 2 garlic cloves and cook for 3 more minutes. Transfer the spinach into a mixing bowl and let cool. Once the spinach is cooled, add cottage cheese and an egg, and mix well.

Coat another large saute pan with olive oil, toss in some red pepper flakes and the onion, and bring to medium heat. Season with salt and pepper and cook until the onion is soft and aromatic, about 6 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for another 5 minutes (the mushrooms will release some water). Throw in the remaining two cloves of garlic (pressed or minced very finely) and cook for three more minutes. Add the pureed tomatoes and oregano. Bring to a boil, stir in the squash and simmer partially covered for 20 minutes until thickened. If the sauce is not thick enough at this point, increase the heat to medium-high and cook for another 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

To assemble the lasagna, spread some of the red sauce in the bottom of an 8 x 12 x 2-inch baking dish. Arrange a layer of noodles on top,  then 1/2 of the spinach mixture, then more red sauce, and sprinkle with grated Parmesan. Repeat once more, layering noodles, sauce, spinach, and Parmesan. Cover the top layer of noodles with the remaining red sauce and sprinkle with Parmesan (and some black pepper if you like).

Cover with foil and bake the lasagna for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 10 more minutes until the top is somewhat golden brown. Allow to rest at room temperature for 10 minutes and serve hot.

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