I an not a vegetarian, nor do I see myself becoming one. The closest I come most days is with my morning cereal with milk and sugar. Other than an occasional meatless meal, I eat meat every day at lunch and dinner.
(Of course, I'm talking about being an ovo-lacto vegetarian, not vegan.)
A vegetarian meal is one where I simply leave the meat out of the dish that I'm cooking. I don't make any effort to make a special vegetarian dish. Any item without meat, like a slice of cheese pizza or scrambled eggs with hotcakes, qualifies as a vegetarian meal in my mind.
I just made the best lasagna ever last night. While I still relish an aromatic tomato-based lasagna with three or four layers of quality Italian sausage sandwiched between layers of ricotta and mozzarella, roasted diced zucchini and crimmini slices did a very good job of substituting for the sausage.
I will use this recipe this summer at camp. I'll be able to use vegetables on-hand to vary the layered dish each week or two. I should be able to purchase no-boil lasagna noodles from Sysco.
Pre-cooking the vegetables drives out excess water and adds flavor. The biggest flavor boost comes from the caramelization of the natural sugars in the vegetables.
Pair pre-cooking technique to the moisture content of the vegetable. High-moisture vegetables, like eggplant and zucchini, are best sauteed or roasted. Blanch, chop and saute low-moisture vegetables like broccoli or cauliflower.
Vary the vegetables as desired: Substitute 1-pound diced eggplant for mushrooms. For spinach and mushroom lasagna, saute 1 pound sliced crimmini mushrooms with a small amount of onion. Season and remove from skillet. Add 10-ounces (12 cups) chopped spinach leaves to skillet and saute until wilted. Season and combine with mushrooms.
VEGETABLE LASAGNA WITH ROASTED ZUCCHINI AND MUSHROOMS
You need 16 no-boil lasagna sheets (approximately 3-1/2- x 7-in.) for the recipe. It takes 4 sheets to cover the bottom of a 9- x 13-in. baking pan. Depending on the size of the lasagna sheets and the baking pan, their may be some overlap.
1 pound zucchini, diced small
1 pound mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
15 ounces ricotta cheese
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 cup chopped parsley
3-1/2 cups tomato sauce
8 ounces no-boil lasagna noodles
1 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
To roast zucchini and mushrooms, toss vegetables with olive oil and garlic. Spread vegetables in a thin layer on 1 or more greased sheet pans. Season with salt and pepper.
Roast vegetables in a 400-degree F. oven for about 35 minutes, turning occasionally, until golden brown. Yields 3 to 3-1/2 cups roasted vegetables.
Combine ricotta cheese, eggs and parsley until eggs are incorporated in cheese mixture. Season with pepper to taste. Set aside.
To assemble the lasagna, spread 1/2-cup tomato sauce over bottom of 9 x 13-in. baking pan. Lay 4 lasagna sheets so they cover the completely tomato sauce. Spread 2/3-cup ricotta over noodles, 1-cup vegetables evenly over ricotta, 2/3-cup tomato sauce evenly over vegetables and 1-cup mozzarella cheese and 3 tablespoon Parmesan over sauce.
Repeat layering noodles, ricotta mixture, vegetables, tomato sauce and cheeses 2 more times. For the fourth and final layer, lay the final 4 lasagna sheets over the previous layer. Top with remaining 1 cup tomato sauce, 1 cup mozzarella cheese and 2 heaping tablespoons Parmesan.
Cover pan with large sheet aluminum foil greased with cooking spray. Bake covered 40 minutes in 375-degree F oven. Remove foil and continue baking 15 minutes until cheese brown in spots. Remove and let rest 10 minutes. Cut into 8 (2 x 4) or 15 (3 x 5) portions as desired.
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