Sunday, March 12, 2017

Roasted Garlic Vegetarian Lasagna

For about a week I have been waiting impatiently to use the quart of leftover red sauce I found in the back of the freezer.  The sauce was labeled "Extra Chunky Red Gravy" and I instantly remembered this AWESOME concoction that was the result of me cleaning out the fridge and utilizing a lot of great veggies that were on their "last leg".  Most vegetarian lasagnas have eggplant in them.  I like eggplant.  I don't love eggplant, but I do like it.  So when I woke up today after coming home late and drunkenly promising my wife a homemade lasagna when she got home from work I realized that we have eaten a LOT of eggplant over the past few days.  Much more eggplant than I normally consume.  I decided that I didn't want any eggplant in this.  I thought about the flavors I did want and settled on yellow squash and zucchini.  I like sautéed spinach in my lasagna but since I was making something new I decided to try kale instead.  I also wanted to sub the ricotta with cottage cheese - something I had recently read in an article that bragged that the cottage cheese actually ends up making the final product creamier than ricotta does.  The fact it is healthier is one of those bonuses that I will ignore if you do too.

1 head garlic
2 zucchini sliced to half inch thickness
2 yellow squash sliced to half inch thickness
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 head of garlic
16 oz kale, stemmed and chopped
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/3 cup of vegetable stock (or water)
16 oz low-fat (or non-fat) cottage cheese
16 oz mozzarella, grated and separated in two halves.
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice*
1 box of no boil lasagna noodles
5-6 cups of left over homemade red gravy (chunkier the better)
Extra virgin olive oil

  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Arrange the slices of squash and zucchini on two parchment lined cookie sheet.  Sprinkle the slices with salt and oregano.  Add the head of garlic and bake for about 30 minutes.  Put aside and allow garlic to cool enough to handle.
  2. Meanwhile, add tablespoon of oil in a Dutch oven on medium-high heat until shimmering.  Add the red pepper flakes and the kale.  Reduce heat to medium-low, add the stock (or water, if using) and cover.  Cook 15-20 minutes.
  3. Squeeze out the roasted garlic from it's skin and add to a large mixing bowl with the cottage cheese, parsley, lemon juice and half the mozzarella.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Add a small amount of red gravy to a lasagna pan treated with spray oil (I like the coconut spray oil).  Add a layer of noodles, then cheese mix, kale, noodles, vegetable slices, red gravy then repeat the noodles, cheese, kale, noodles, slices, red gravy, repeat, etc.
  5. Finish with a layer of noodles.  Top with the remaining mozzarella that wasn't mixed in with the cottage cheese.
  6. Bake as instructed on the box of your no-boil noodles.  Let cool for about 10-15 minutes before slicing.
Serve with a salad and/or garlic bread.

If you are making this for only two people you can half the entire recipe and bake in a loaf (bread) tin.  (Don't half the number of layers - just the ingredients). I like doing this because although I can't get enough lasagna it isn't my wife's favorite so I avoid having too much left over.  However for this maiden voyage of a recipe I decided to go all out and share the love and pack up some slices of this for friends, family and neighbors.

* Believe it or not: I truly think that the lemon juice is the secret weapon of this recipe.  It makes the cheese mixture come alive and become three dimensional.