Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Try Something New Tuesday: Veggie Lasagna

So I recently got it in my head that I wanted to do a veggie lasagna for a Try Something New Tuesday post. I really don't know where the idea came from, but it definitely sounded good to me. I'm not a huge ground meat person, so mixing it up with veggies instead sounded like a win/win.

I looked at a number of recipes for veggie lasagna before ultimately deciding that I already had a pretty darn good recipe for regular lasagna so why couldn't I just add veggies to that and take out the meat?!? And that's exactly what I did. Here's the cast: 

I started with the veggies. I knew if I was going to really sell this to my kids, these babies were going to have to be small...as in practically microscopic. So I pulled out my Cuisinart food processor

I have used my food processor for purees and chopping veggies many times, but I had never used it for shredding anything. And being the nerd forward-thinking person that I am, I had watched the introductory video that came with the food processor when I got it a few years back. I distinctly remembered that you could definitely shred vegetables. After a few minutes and a quick review of the owner's manual that I had safely filed under "food processor" in my filing cabinet, I had it all figured out. Because I'm a complete geek awesome like that.

I started with zucchini. Look what the Cuisinart did!!! And it took about 2 milliseconds. No joke. Aren't they beautiful?!?

Next, I decided to shred a bell pepper. Because shredding is super fun. And I wanted more. I went with a red pepper because I figured it's pretty much the same color as the sauce so I could hide it easily. Oh, and the red ones are extra good for you. But it didn't shred as well as the zucchini.

It was really just finely chopped. So I decided to do the next bell pepper (an orange one...my color-matching logic again) with the standard chopping blade. I added about a quarter of a large red onion as well.

A few pulses and these little gems were cut down to kiddie-approved size.

Next I emptied 2 jars of pasta sauce into a large bowl.

Then I added the veggies to the pasta sauce.

Now I'm going to point out right here that you could absolutely chop up your veggies larger than these. However, if you choose to do that, I'm going to recommend roasting them a little or sauteing them in some olive oil before adding them to the lasagna. My vegetables were able to fully cook with the dish because they were so small, but larger veggies would probably need to be pre-cooked.

Back to my microscopic vegetables. My next step was to stir them into the sauce along with a little water. See - they're practically invisible!!!

Next up was the cheese mixture. First I cooked a package of frozen spinach according to the package directions. While it cooled, I mixed together my mozzarella, parmesan, cottage cheese and eggs.

Afterward, I put the spinach into a strainer and squeezed out all the liquid I could.

Then I placed the spinach on paper towels and blotted off more excess liquid.

Finally it was time to add the spinach to my cheese mixture.

At last it was time to assemble the lasagna! I started by spraying a foil pan really well with some Pam.

I then took about 3/4 cup of my sauce mixture and covered the bottom of the pan with it. This is the trick my mom taught me so you don't have to precook your lasagna noodles. You don't even have to buy the no-boil noodles. Any old lasagna noodle will do.

Next, I layered lasagna noodles across the pan. I would typically use 4 noodles for this, but this pan was extra large so I had to use part of a 5th noodle across the top.

Then I layered on about 1/3 of the cheese mixture,

and 1/3 of the remaining sauce mixture.

I repeated the noodle, cheese, sauce layers two more times. 

Then I cooked it at 400 degrees for about an hour and a half. I covered it with foil for the first hour and removed the foil for the last 30 minutes of cooking. Here's the finished product.

The verdict???

The kids ALL loved it. Jeff missed his meat, as I knew he would. I thought it was amazing! I much prefer it to the meaty variety. And for under 400 calories for one-twelfth of the pan, I was SOLD!!! 

Veggie Lasagna

  • Any fresh veggies you want! I used 2 medium zucchinis, 2 bell peppers, & 1/4 of a large red onion.
  • 1 package frozen spinach
  • 2 jars spaghetti sauce
  • 1 lg. container cottage cheese
  • 1 lb. (4 cups) mozzarella cheese
  • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 12 lasagna noodles (any variety)
  • 1/3 cup water
~Chop your fresh veggies to desired size. In a large bowl, combine spaghetti sauce, fresh veggies and water. Set aside. Cook spinach according to package directions. Drain spinach well and pat dry with paper towels. In another large bowl, combine mozzarella, parmesan and cottage cheeses with eggs. Stir in spinach. Spray pan well with nonstick spray. Spread 3/4 c. of sauce mixture in bottom of pan. Then layer: 4 noodles, 1/3 cheese mixture, and 1/3 of remaining sauce mixture. Repeat 2 more times. **There is NO need to precook your noodles.** Cover with foil. Bake at 400 degrees for 1-1/2 hours. Remove foil for last 30 minutes of baking. Remove from oven, and let sit 10 minutes.


Audra Kelly said...

will certainly be adding this to the line up. :)

Lisa Eirene said...

That looks absolutely delicious!

Jen Corvin said...

Thanks, Lisa! I loved it! I'm having leftovers for dinner tonight as a matter of fact. :)

Anonymous said...

This looks SO awesome!! Thank you for sharing! :)

Jen Corvin said...

Thanks, cleaneating! I am glad you posted here; your blog is fantastic! And it's making me hungry. :)