Nikki’s Kitchen: Vegetarian Lasagna

We all have times when we are having a mix of friends and family coming over and we ask ourselves, “What do I make for all these people?” Well, I’ve got a solution! Vegetarian Lasagna. We can all appreciate that we have to accommodate many palettes. I will give you some ways to adjust this recipe for a few dietary concerns should you need to do so.

Vegetarian Lasagna       

Sauce:
3 Tbsp. olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 small onions, diced
1 bulb fennel (anise), diced
3 small zucchini, diced
1 12-oz. jar marinated artichoke hearts, diced
1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes in juice
1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes with Italian spices
salt to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
4 oz. baby spinach

Ricotta Mixture:
1 large container (about 2 lbs.) ricotta cheese
1/4 cup fresh chopped basil
1 Tbsp. salt
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 egg

15 slices provolone cheese
1 1/2 cups grated parmesan
4 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
1 box oven-ready lasagna noodles (You can use non-oven-ready noodles, but they must be boiled prior to using.)

To make the sauce:
Place a large soup pot on the stove over medium heat, and put the olive oil, garlic, and onion in the pot. Sweat down (i.e., cook gently) for 2-3 minutes. Add the fennel, zucchini, and artichoke hearts, and saute until soft.DSC_0418

Add the two cans of tomatoes, and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. Add the salt, chopped basil, and baby spinach. Cook for another 10 minutes or so. Set aside for assembly.
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To make the ricotta mixture:
Place all the listed ricotta mixture ingredients into a bowl, and mix until well combined. Set aside for assembly.

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Assembly:
Preheat your oven to 400  F. Use a 9” x 13” pan (the one with the highest sides you have). Place 1-2 cups of sauce on the bottom of the pan, and spread out over the bottom of the pan. Place 3-4 noodles on top of the sauce. Place about 1 cup of ricotta mixture on top of the noodles and then spread out over all the noodles. Place 6 slices of provolone cheese over the ricotta. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese and about 1 1/2 cups of mozzarella over the provolone. Repeat for two more layers (if you have room in your pan). I recommend placing your pan onto a sheet pan in case some of the sauce leaks over the sides. Place in the oven, and bake for 45 minutes or until it is bubbly and slightly browned on the top. Let sit for about 15 minutes to cool a bit.

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If you have someone who is lactose intolerant, you can use tofutti for the ricotta and vegan cheese for the cheese. I’ve never tried this, but I am sure that it would be yummy.

If someone has a gluten allergy, you could use a large squash (zucchini or yellow) in long, thin slices instead of noodles. I have done this, and people loved it.

Also, if you don’t want to eat vegetarian, you can add ground beef, turkey, or chicken at the point where your sweating your onions and garlic.
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Hope you all enjoy this recipe. I have always had success with it.

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