Today is not only Meatless Monday, but also National Lasagna Day, so I made a Vegetable Lasagna. I tried making this once before but it wasn’t quite right, so I was happy to have the opportunity to try again. The first time I used large pieces of sliced mushrooms, and my kids didn’t like them. I have since made a pasta sauce with finely chopped mushrooms, and my kids loved it. I’ve realized my kids don’t like the texture of big pieces of mushroom but they like the taste, so chopping it small solved that problem. I also pre-cooked the lasagna noodles the first time I made it, and the lasagna was a bit watery, so I decided to try starting with raw noodles. It worked out perfectly, cooked noodles and no wateriness in sight.
I made it in an 8×8 square baking dish, it always bothers me that lasagna recipes are for huge 9×13 pans, so I never want to make it just for my family; we’d have way too much leftover. Making it in a smaller pan also meant that I was able to cook it in my toaster oven, which is nice during the summer since it doesn’t heat the house up as much as a regular oven. You could probably double this recipe to make it in a 9×13 pan. I tried to remember to measure most things (I don’t normally measure while I’m cooking, unless following a recipe myself), I’ve guessed at amounts and made a note of it when I didn’t measure. While I don’t usually use low fat cheese, I had a feeling that with all the other ingredients we wouldn’t be able to tell the difference, and I think I was right. Feel free to use full fat cheese if you prefer. I tried the first batch with nonfat ricotta (couldn’t find low fat)…please, spare yourself and don’t go there.
I didn’t have time to prep this right before dinner, so I assembled it earlier in the day, put a piece of tin foil over the top, and put it in the fridge once it was cool enough. When it was time to cook it, I removed the tin foil and put it in the oven while it preheated, which I think brought it up to temp by the time the oven was preheated.
Vegetable Lasagna with Mushrooms, Zucchini, and Spinach
Serves 6; Cal – 241, Carbs – 30, Protein – 16, Fiber – 6, Sugar – 8, Fat – 8
- 2 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil (approx., I didn’t measure)
- 1 medium onion
- 10 oz. crimini mushrooms, chopped fine (I used a bag of sliced mushrooms from Trader Joe’s, made this step easier) (It will look like a TON of mushrooms, but they cook down a lot)
- 1 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise, sliced thin
- 3 cloves garlic, minced or use a garlic press (here’s a link to a great one)
- 1 15 oz. can tomato sauce (or pureed tomatoes)
- 1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes, mostly drained (leave a little juice)
- 1 6 oz. bag baby spinach
- 1/2 15 oz. container low fat ricotta cheese
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup chopped basil
- 6 (1/3 of package) whole wheat lasagna noodles (bionaturae is great, I get it at Whole Foods)
- 1.5 cups (scant) low fat mozzarella cheese
- parmigiano reggiano (I didn’t measure this, maybe an ounce?)
- salt as needed
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Heat oil over medium in a skillet or saucier (not non-stick if possible)
- When oil is hot, add onion. Cook, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes, until translucent
- Add chopped mushrooms. Continue to stir frequently, until mushrooms have released their moisture, and most of it has evaporated. This takes awhile.
- Add sliced zucchini. Cook until zucchini is mostly translucent, and a fond (bits of stuck on food) has started developing on the bottom of the pan. Make sure not to let the fond burn, but it may be a dark brown.
- Add minced garlic, stir around for about 30 seconds.
- Add tomato sauce or pureed tomato. Stir in, using a wooden spoon to deglaze the pan (scrape up the brown bits).
- Add diced tomatoes, and stir in. Let sauce come to a boil.
- Add spinach, one handful at a time. Stir each handful into the sauce until the spinach wilts before adding the next handful.
- Remove the pan from the heat. Taste and add salt if needed.
- Mix the ricotta and egg together until combined. Add the basil and mix well.
- Put enough sauce on the bottom of your 8×8 pan to cover the entire bottom.
- Lay 2 noodles evenly on top of sauce and press down gently.
- Spread 1/4 of ricotta mixture on each noodle (so you should use up 1/2 of it).
- Spoon in about 1/3 of remaining sauce and spread out.
- Sprinkle a scant 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella over sauce
- Lay 2 more noodles evenly on top of mozzarella and press down gently.
- Spread 1/2 of remaining ricotta mixture on each noodle (so you should use up the rest of it)
- Spoon in 1/2 of remaining sauce and spread out.
- Sprinkle a scant 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella over sauce.
- Lay last 2 noodles evenly on top of mozzarella and press down gently, but firmly enough so the sauce fills in any air pockets.
- Spoon on the rest of the sauce and spread out.
- Sprinkle on the last scant 1/2 cup of mozzarella. Grate parmigiano reggiano to cover the top.
- Bake for 40 minutes, keeping an eye on the cheese to make sure it doesn’t burn. I let our cheese get pretty dark, it made a nice slightly crunchy topping. If you would like it lighter, just put a piece of tin foil on top towards the end of cooking.
- Allow to rest for about 5 minutes before cutting with a sharp knife.
I cut it into 9 pieces and had a very small serving (kids had 2), because I thought it must be super high in calories (it has cheese! and pasta!). It wasn’t until after I plugged the info into the My Fitness Pal recipe calculator that I realized it is ridiculously low in calories and I could have cut it in 6 pieces and had more. Oh well, next time. It wasn’t like I suffered. I had my lasagna with a big, beautiful salad of mixed greens and edible flowers, cucumber, carrots and heirloom tomato from the farmers market, and early girl tomato and sun gold cherry tomatoes from our garden.