Saturday, March 10, 2012

ChezCindy: Vegetable Lasagna - Winner!

So, referring back to the Vegetable Lasagna Auditions, I made the 2 vegetable lasagnas, roasted eggplant and 4-cheese spinach.  Even before my nieces were to decide the winner, I knew clearly which one I hoped it would be.  The roasted eggplant was very involving with numerous steps, too many pans to wash!  I put that one together first, baked it, let it cool and proceeded to make the 4-cheese lasagna.  So easy.  Once both were completed and baked, I sampled each.  The eggplant lasagna was awful. Too much eggplant overpowering the balance of the dish as a whole.  Thankfully, the 4-cheese lasagna was delicious!  It tasted like a cheese pizza. 
Now, time to take the two pans of lasagna over to the girls.  I kept a small portion of the 4-cheese for us.  But if I didn't take out a portion of the eggplant lasagna, would that bias the opinions of the judging?  To be safe, I took out a similar portion of the eggplant lasagna, and shoved it down the disposal, it was that bad.  The next day my niece called with the decision.  I could tell she was hedging just a bit. "We're not really eggplant people, so we liked the cheese lasagna better."  I laughed and told her she didn't have to be so careful and that I hated the eggplant one.  Winning lasagna decided.

This vegetable lasagna is very simple to prepare and delicious.  If you don't want to make your own tomato sauce, you can use a jar of your ready-made favorite.  (If you love eggplant and want the eggplant lasagna recipe, let me know and I will send it too you.)  

Four Cheese and Spinach Lasagna
12 lasagna noodles (not no-boil)
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 10-ounce box frozen spinach, thawed
1 3/4 cup cottage cheese
4 ounces goat cheese
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
4 cups shredded mozzarella
1 large egg
4 cups tomato sauce

Preheat oven 350 degrees
Bring a large pot of water to boil, add the lasagna noodles, cook for 10 minutes, stirring to keep from sticking together.  Drain and set aside.
Heat the olive oil and minced garlic in a medium saute pan until the garlic is light brown in color.  Squeeze out the excess water from the thawed spinach.  Add to the garlic, season with salt and pepper.  Continue cooking, stirring occasionally until the spinach is dry.  Remove from heat and let cool.
Mix the cottage cheese, goat cheese, parmesan and 2 cups of the mozzarella cheese together in a medium bowl.  Add the cooled spinach, stir to combine.  Slightly beat the egg, add to the spinach cheese mixture, stir well to bring together. 
Cover the bottom of a 9 by 13-inch casserole pan with a 1/4 cup of tomato sauce.  Cover with 3 lasagna noodles.  Top with 1/4 of the cheese mixture smoothing out evenly over the noodles.  Add about 1/2 cup of tomato sauce.  Repeat with 3 more layers.  Cover with the remaining tomato sauce, sprinkle the 2 cups of mozzarella cheese on top.  Bake uncovered about 45 minutes.  Let the lasagna cool for 10 minutes before serving. 

Simple Tomato Sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup basil leaves

In a medium sauce pan, heat the olive oil and the minced garlic for 2 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, squishing them in your hand as you add them to the pan.  Add the remaining juices from the can.  Add the salt, pepper, sugar.  Cook over low heat for 30 minutes.  Chop the basil, add to the sauce, remove from heat.  Adjust seasoning as needed.  

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