Saturday, January 22, 2011

Chunky Veggie Lasagna...yum!

"To celebrate the birth of my neighbor's new baby girl (Congrats Craig & Alina!!) and my 15 year old "Betty Crocker's New Cookbook:  Everything You Need to Know to Cook".  I decided to pull out one of our favorite comfort food recipes.  I admit, it's almost embarrassing to say I use recipes from this cookbook.  I live near people who are, literally, cooking geniuses.  The Betty Crocker cookbook seems so...well, for lack of better word, basic.  However, being a mediocre cook at best, every recipe in this book turns out great!  I love the simplicity of both the instructions and the ingredient list.

We discovered this recipe one night because we were craving homemade lasagna.  My husband is a voracious carnivore and I, on the other hand, am a vegetarian.  Luckily, my husband is willing to eat things that are also vegetarian.  While leafing through Betty Crocker that night, we stumbled on this recipe.  It turned out beautifully.  The flavors are delicious.  The dish tastes good and is somewhat healthy.

While making it again today, I was reminded that lasagna is all in the prep.  "Mise en place" is a french phrase that means "putting in place".  I learned about this concept on one of my favorite Food Network shows, "Challenge".  All of the chefs are required to have all of their ingredients ready to go when the clock starts counting down.  So, I was mise en place with my glass prep dishes all set to hold my measured ingredients.

Once I had all of my ingredients ready, it was actually very easy to execute.  As I write this, the yummy smell wafting through the house is making my kids go nuts!  Here is the recipe with a few of my own tweaks.  Buon appetito!

Yummy fresh ingredients - Mise en place

Chunky Veggie Lasagna
Prep: 35 mins; Bake: 40 mins; Stand: 10; Makes: 8 servings (we usually get more like 12 out of it)

12 uncooked lasagna noodles (the recipe says to use cooked rather than uncooked but we've used uncooked every time and it turns out just fine)
3 c broccoli flowerets (recipe calls for frozen but I blanch my fresh stuff.  I think it tastes better)
3 large carrots, coarsely shredded (~2 cups)
1 - 14.5oz can of diced tomatoes
1 med red and green bell pepper, cut into thinly sliced strips
3/4c pesto (store bought works fine. I just happened to have some a friend brought home from Italy.)
1/4 tsp of salt
1 - 15oz container of ricotta
3/4 c grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/4c chopped fresh parsley
1 large egg
3 T butter
1/3 c chopped onion
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
3 T all-purpose flour
2 c milk
2 c shredded mozzerella

1.  Prep noodles as directed on package, unless they're the no-boil kind.

Chunky veggie mixture

2.  In a large bowl, mix broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, bell peppers, Pesto and salt.

Ricotta mixture

3.  In a medium bowl, mix ricotta cheese, 1/2 c of Parmesan cheese, parsley and egg.

Flour rue with onions and garlic

4.  Melt butter in a 2-quart saucepan over med heat.  Cook garlic and onion until tender, about 2 mins, stirring frequently.  Stir in flour.  Cook over med heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth and bubbly; remove from heat.  Stir in milk.  Heat to boiling, stirring constantly.  Boil and stir 1 min, until mixture starts to thicken.

5. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Noodles with cheese layer

6. Place 3 noodles in greased rectangular pan, 13x9x2 inches.  Spread half of the cheese mixture over noodles.  Top with 3 noodles; spread with half of the vegetable mixture.  Sprinkle with 1 c of the mozzarella cheese.  Repeat this step.  Pour white sauce evenly over the top.

Veggie layer

7. Sprinkle remaining 1 cup of mozzarella cheese and top off with remaining 1/4 cup parmesan.

8.  The next step is my special secret ingredient.  I love Penzey's Spices.  They are the best in the commercial game of spices.  I frequently use their "Pasta Sprinkle" on my italian dishes and people rave.  I tell them it's all in the spices!

Penzeys Spices "Pasta Sprinkle"

Your dish should look like this now...

Lasagna ready to go in oven

9.  Bake this uncovered for 35-40 mins or until hot in the center.  Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.

The finished product!


Kim Kelly said...

MMM!! Nicely done!! You have lucky neighbors!! ;)

Baby.Got.Craft said...

LOVE penzeys!

All That's Left Are The Crumbs said...

Great looking lasagna and a great first post. I love Penzeys too and will have to look into this spice.