Posts Tagged ‘vegetables’

Roasted Veggie Lasagna

This is not the lasagna I wanted to make. I envisioned an ALL veggie lasagna, with long strips of zucchini in place of pasta noodles, but it was not to be. As we walked through the produce section of the new Sprouts market in the area, I mentioned to Bikenut that I was going to make a little lasagna for myself for lunch the next day.

“I like lasagna,” he said.
“I was going to make the noodles out of zucchini…”
“But, I don’t like zucchini,” he said.
“Yes, I know, which is why I was only going to make it for me!”

Obviously, I couldn’t bear the idea of Bikenut being disappointed that he didn’t get any lasagna, and the mere fact that he stated he actually LIKED something (which meant he was more likely to actually EAT it) was enough to send me back to the store for the noodles.

Zucchini was still going into the lasagna, but I was made to promise that it would only be in half. I also picked up an assortment of other veggies to roast and layer in there as well: carrot, yellow squash, onions (half a red, half a white, and a whole small yellow), portobello mushrooms, white button mushrooms, and spinach. The other ingredients were ricotta cheese, a mozzarella and smoked provolone cheese blend, and a quick pasta sauce made the night before from two cans of tomato sauce, 4 cloves of garlic (minced), half of a white onion (diced), and a handful of spices.

Unfortunately, not everything made it into the lasagna. Having bought an actual bunch of spinach, rather than the pre-washed, pre-packaged bag o’ spinach, I had to make sure that it was thoroughly rinsed. This meant giving it a good rinse through the colander a couple of times, then soaking it in a bowl of water to get anything else off it, and then giving it a final rinse before patting it dry and putting it to use. It got as far as the soak, sitting in a bowl on the counter next to the sink, when I turned my attention to other tasks that needed to be completed. I figured that was a better use of my time than watching spinach soak. Unfortunately, that move and the fact that it wasn’t to be included in the roasting caused the spinach to be forgotten. Oh well.

I was a little apprehensive about using these “no cook” pasta sheets, and I was a bit happy that I had left my sauce a little thin so that the noodles could soak it all up and definitely come out cooked. So a base of sauce went down into a 9″x13″ baking dish, then layer after layer followed; pasta, cheese, veggies, ricotta, sauce, pasta, cheese, veggies, ricotta, sauce, etc. The veggies were chunky, so I only got to three layers of pasta before having to top it off with cheese, covering it with foil and popping it into the oven.

After about an hour in the oven, it came out looking and smelling amazing! Bikenut insisted that I let it rest for a good 30 minutes or more, but after 15, I had to sample it. I should have waited, because I didn’t get so much a piece of lasagna as I did a sloppy pile of noodles, sauce and veggies. It was a tasty mess though! When Bikenut decided to have his non-zucchini piece, he told me it was one of the best veggie lasagnas he’s ever eaten. To further the compliment, we were trying to decide a few nights later where we wanted to go out to eat, and Bikenut said, “You know, I really just want to have another piece of that lasagna with a cold glass of milk.” He really must have liked it to pass up a steak, honey-walnut prawns, or fish and chips at his favorite pub!

So here you go… hopefully everyone you make this for loves it just as much!

Roasted Veggie Lasagna

Ingredients:

For the sauce:

    • 2 – 12oz cans tomato sauce
    • 4 cloves of garlic
    • 1/2 large yellow onion
    • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 teaspoon sugar, or more to taste
    • Herbs/Spices: Dried oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, paprika, fennel or caraway seed, fresh basil, salt & pepper

For the roasted veggies:

    • 2 medium zucchini
    • 1 large yellow squash
    • 1 large carrot
    • 1/2 large yellow onion
    • 1/2 large white onion
    • 1/2 large red onion
    • 2 portobello mushrooms
    • 1/2 lb white button mushrooms
    • Spices: Dried oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt & pepper
    • Olive oil to coat

For the ricotta filling:

    • 12-16oz ricotta cheese
    • 2 sprigs fresh oregano, removed from stem, roughly chopped
    • 6 leaves fresh basil, finely chopped
    • 3 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
    • 3 Tablespoons shredded mozzarella & smoked provolone cheese blend
    • 1 beaten egg

For the lasagna:

    • 4 cups of shredded mozzarella & smoked provolone cheese blend
    • 1 box “no cook” lasagna noodles

Instructions:

For the sauce:

    • Over medium heat, add olive oil to pot.  Add garlic, onion, and dry spices, about 1 Tablespoon of each: dried oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, fennel or caraway seeds, and a pinch of red pepper flakes (more if you like it spicy, or omit altogether if you don’t like it spicy at all.)  Cook until onions are translucent.
    • Add tomato sauce and simmer for at least 15 minutes, but the longer the better.   After 15 minutes, taste.  If too tangy, add sugar a teaspoon at a time, tasting between each addition to make sure it doesn’t get TOO sweet.
    • Remove from heat and stir in about 1/3 cup of chopped fresh basil.  Set aside.   If making the sauce in advance, cool and refrigerate until ready to use.

For the veggies:

    • Preheat oven to 400°F.
    • Slice zucchini, squash, carrot, and button mushrooms into 1/4″ thick slices.
    • With a spoon, remove the stems and “gills” of the portobello mushrooms and cut caps into roughly 1″ pieces.
    • Quarter the onions, and arrange all prepared veggies on a large baking sheet.
    • Drizzle olive oil over the veggies, sprinkle with spices (about 1 Tablespoon of each), then toss to coat.
    • Place in oven and bake for about 15-20 minutes, until veggies begin to let go of some of their liquid and soften, but are still firm.
    • Remove from oven and set aside.  If making the veggies in advance, cool and refrigerate until ready to use.

For the ricotta mixture:

    • In a small bowl, add ricotta, parmesan, mozzarella & provolone cheese, and egg.
    • Add oregano and basil.
    • Mix until all ingredients are well incorporated.

For the lasagna:

    • Preheat oven to 350°F, and grease a 9″x13″ baking dish.
    • Spoon sauce into dish, covering the bottom in a thin layer of sauce.
    • Place a single layer of pasta sheets in dish.  Add a layer of mozzarella & provolone cheese (approx. 1/4 to 1/3 of the cheese.)  Add layer of roasted veggies.  Add layer of ricotta mixture.  Add layer of sauce. Repeat layering one more time.
    • Add a layer of pasta sheets, and very gently press down on the sheets to compact the lasagna.  Top with a layer of sauce, a layer of mozzarella & provolone cheese, then sprinkle the top with parmesan cheese.
    • Loosely cover the dish with aluminum foil, place on a baking sheet, and bake in the oven for approximately 40 minutes.
    • After 40 minutes, remove the foil and bake for another 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese begins to brown.
    • Let cool for approximately 30 minutes, then slice and serve.

Cheese-Filled Zucchini Boats

“I hope these aren’t going to be too foofy for the guys,” Bikenut says.  I’m not sure why he thought the guys wouldn’t like them.  Guys like mozzarella sticks, right???  All I did was add a vegetable!

I StumbledUpon the recipe on Life’s Ambrosia but had to do things a little differently, based on the zucchini I picked up.  It was far too dainty to core out when cut into rounds.  Instead, I cut each zucchini into thirds or quarters, then split those sections in half lengthwise and used a melon baller to scoop out a pocket for the cheese.

I also sliced off a thin bit of the bottom of the “boat” to keep each one from rolling around, then sprinkled them with some sea salt and pepper.

If I had this part to do over again, I would have not gone with shredded mozzarella cheese.  Instead, I’d have bought a ball of mozzarella and used chunks of that, or if I happened to have string cheese in the fridge, cut that up.  It wouldn’t have necessarily changed the final outcome, but it would have made things a little easier for prep and clean-up.

Once the cheese was finally packed into the zucchini boats, they were dunked in an egg wash, patted with panko bread crumbs and parmesan, and placed on a baking pan.  Surprisingly, the cheese stayed in the boats the whole time!

A little drizzle of olive oil, and into the oven they went.  Okay, fine.  The “little drizzle” was really more like poorly controlled glugs from the bottle, but still.  All is well that ends well, right?

Fifteen minutes at 400°F then a few minutes under the broiler and what you end up with is a fantastic appetizer that even the guys that were over for Fight Night enjoyed!  Serve with your favorite marinara sauce for dipping.  Delicious!

A special thanks to Bikenut for lending me his camera, since I had neglected to charge my battery since our last photo excursion.  Without him, you’d only have gotten to see the first two steps!

Cheese-Filled Zucchini Boats

Ingredients:

  • 3 zucchini
  • 1 ball of mozzarella cheese
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup of panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese
  • olive oil
  • Marinara sauce for dipping

Directions:

  1. Slice ends off of zucchini, then cut zucchini into three to four pieces.  Split each piece lengthwise, then slice a thin strip off the rounded bottom of each piece to create a flat surface for the zucchini to rest on.
  2. Using a melon baller or small spoon, scoop out the centers of each piece, making sure not to scoop too much of the flesh away.
  3. Sprinkle zucchini boats with a good bit of salt and a crack of black pepper.  Stuff the zucchini with pieces of mozzarella cheese, pressing it into the hollow.
  4. In a small bowl, beat two eggs.  In a separate small bowl, mix together the panko bread crumbs and grated parmesan.
  5. Dip each zucchini boat in the egg wash until it is thoroughly coated, then transfer the zucchini to the panko mixture.  Toss in the breadcrumbs until well-coated, pat the breadcrumbs onto the top, then transfer zucchini to a baking sheet that has been prepared with cooking spray.
  6. Drizzle with olive oil, and bake at 400°F for 15 minutes.  Broil for another 3-5 minutes until tops are browned.
  7. Remove from oven and serve while hot with marinara sauce for dipping.

Minestrone Soup ala Peep

After an atypically spendy Christmas, and to cater more to Bikenut’s new year resolution to eat healthier, I’ve been thinking of ways to stretch our dollars and pack more fruits and veggies into our diets.  The first thing that came to mind was to make a big pot of soup or stew that would last us at least a few days, if not the whole week.  I opted for a vegetable soup, since that accomplished all of my goals in one fell swoop.

Of course, I didn’t think about the blog until everything was in the pot, so you’ll have to settle for a picture of the finished product and the list of ingredients.  Sorry about that.  I did the same thing with the teriyaki chicken I made a couple of weeks ago, which I thought I created a draft post for but apparently did not. 😛

One thing to note… when I say to use a large pot, make sure it’s at least 5.5 quarts.  My cast iron pot is 5.5 quarts and it is filled to the brim!

At any rate, here’s the recipe…

Minestrone Soup ala Peep

Ingredients:

The broth:

  • 2 – 32oz containers of beef broth
  • 1 – 8oz can of tomato paste
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 Tablespoon dried parsley
  • Dash of each: celery seed, nutmeg, thyme
  • Salt & pepper to taste

The rest:

  • 1 can of cannellini beans (white kidney beans)
  • 1 can of garbanzo beans
  • 1 large white onion, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 jumbo russet potato, cut into large dice
  • 1 large carrot, cut into large dice
  • 4 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of dry mini ravioli pasta (or your favorite small pasta shape)
  • 2 ears of white corn, cut from the cob
  • 1 large zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 1 large yellow squash, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 1/2 cup of frozen chopped spinach (or equal amount of fresh)
  • 1/2 small cabbage, cored and chopped

Directions:

  1. In a large soup pot, add all broth ingredients and bring to a boil, then cover and simmer while preparing the vegetables.
  2. Add cannellinis, garbanzos, onion, potato, carrot, celery and pasta.  Bring back to boil for 5 minutes.
  3. Add corn, zucchini, and yellow squash.  Cover and reduce heat to simmer.
  4. Check the potatoes, carrots and pasta for doneness.  When tender, add spinach and cabbage.  Simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Serve topped with grated parmesan.