Welcome to Romeo's Food Lady! This blog contains recipes for delicious vegetarian food. Most of these are not recipes authored by me. Rather, this is just a compilation of great veggie food I've found from all over the place, usually tweaked just a little. It's intended to be a reference FOR ME so I don't lose great food I've found nor the changes I've made to suit my tastes, but I'm happy for you to use it, too. After more than 25 years of being a vegetarian, I know what tastes good.
Romeo's Food Lady is named after my friend and cat, Romeo. Romeo is not a vegetarian, but his Food Lady is!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Vegetable (Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian) Lasagna

First, let me say, this recipe is not vegan.  If you're looking for a good vegan lasagna, see my previous post (here).  But if that's not important to you, this is a great recipe.

The ricotta custard recipe is modified from one in Annie Somerville's Fields of Greens cookbook.  The rest is moi.  Remember that lasagna is a slight ordeal to make, but it can be made ahead of time, refrigerated, and popped into the oven for a no-fuss dinner or dinner party.  So roll up your sleeves and have at it.

1 16-oz. tub of organic ricotta cheese (I used Organic Valley brand, which was only 15 oz., and it worked fine.  Try to find organic, because it tastes better, it's healthier, and the animals that produce it usually get treated better.)
2 free-range eggs (For humane reasons, free-range is better than cage free.), beaten
1/2 t. salt plus additional, to taste
1/8 t. freshly ground black pepper
extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and sliced into coins
1 12-oz. package of frozen chopped spinach leaves
1 box lasagna noodles (or the correct amount for whatever brand you're using to make 4 layers in your 9 x 13 baking dish...different brands of noodles are different sizes)
2 jars of your favorite tomato spaghetti sauce
6 - 8 oz. shredded organic mozzarella cheese (If you're buying a block of organic mozzarella, like Organic Valley, it's difficult to shred because it's soft.  Even my food processor didn't like it.  Try putting the block in the freezer for 10 or 15 minutes to firm it up, then shred.)

I like to get each layer's ingredients ready to go, then boil the noodles, then put the lasagna together.  Here's how I do it.

Make the ricotta custard by mixing the ricotta cheese, the 2 beaten eggs, 1/2 t. salt, and 1/8 t. freshly-ground pepper.  Refrigerate mixture until ready to use.

Heat 1 T. olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Sauté the onion until transluscent, 8 - 10 minutes.  Remove the onion from the skillet.  Add more olive oil to the skillet, if necessary, and sauté the carrot coins over medium heat until tender-crisp, 10 - 15 minutes.  Remove the carrots from the skillet.  Add the frozen chopped spinach and move around in the oiled skillet over medium heat until thoroughly thawed.  Add 1/2 of the sautéed onion to the spinach, and add salt to the spinach, to taste.  Mix well.  Separately, combine the sautéed carrot coins and the remaining sautéed onion and add salt to taste.

Now cook the lasagna noodles according to package directions.  In the meantime, if you're cooking the lasagna immediately after preparation, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Once the noodles are drained, cover the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish with spaghetti sauce (about 1 c. ?) and cover the sauce layer with 1/4 of your lasagna noodles.  Follow this with another layer of sauce.  Spread the carrot-onion mixture over the sauce.  Remove and reserve 1/3 c. of your mozzarella cheese, and spread half of what is left over the carrots.  Layer another 1/4 of your noodles over the cheese.  Spread the ricotta custard evenly over the noodles, then make another layer of pasta with 1/4 of your noodles.  Cover the pasta with another layer of sauce.  Now spread the spinach-onion mixture over the sauce and sprinkle on the other half of the mozzarella.  Top this with a final layer of noodles covered generously with another layer of sauce.

At this point, you can refrigerate or freeze the lasagna, covered, or you can cover it with aluminum foil and pop it into your 350-degree oven.  Bake 20 minutes, then remove the foil.  Sprinkle on the reserved 1/3 c. mozzarella, and bake another 15-20 minutes.  Serve with crusty bread, and you have a filling, delicious vegetarian meal on your hands.

This recipe is tailored for tailoring, so feel free to do your will with it.  Top with tomato slices or fresh basil, sautée your onion with some chopped jalapeno pepper, use a different cheese, substitute bell peppers for the carrots - use your imagination!

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