Monday, April 7, 2014

Meatless Monday: "Meat" Lasagna!

Lasagna = yum. Growing up, it was a family dinner favorite. We'd have often, and it was usually requested annually by my sister for her birthday meal. I've always been partial to pasta so for me, lasagna is a win-win. It's versatile (try this delicious version with chicken, wild mushrooms and Fontina cheese), easy to prepare, and it makes for a pretty plate. I mean, who doesn't love layers of meat, cheese, pasta, sauce -- and more cheese? It's easy and it's tasty. Done and done.

However, we've been eating less meat/poultry at Chez Gourmess lately, so I decided to make a veggie lasagna. I figured it would make for a nice supper and leftovers (gasp!) would travel well for lunch. I was already chopping up a plump eggplant, zucchini, peppers, and tomatoes for the vegetable layer, when Chris mentioned that he finds vegetable lasagna "boring." So, I of course had to up my game. I decided to make a "mock" meat lasagna and add meatless (soy) crumbles to my tomato sauce in place of ground meat. And, for my ricotta layer, I incorporated silken tofu and Greek yogurt, as well as spinach and kale. But, also lots of cheese. Because, while I can stop eating meat, I just can't quit cheese. The lasagna turned out beautifully, and there were no complaints.
I'm not going to overwhelm you with a long list of ingredients and "to dos" -- you know how to make lasagna, and I'm sure your current version is stellar.  But, if you want to try something new, you can incorporate some/all/none of my meatless version below. I've broken down the layers for you, from the bottom up:
  • Bottom layer: Cover your baking dish with a thin layer of sauce, then layer on lasagna noodles, prepared as directed on the box. (I made two boxes worth of noodles. Any extra noodles/filling can be used for roll-ups.)
  • Vegetable layer: I cooked down a mixture of chopped eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, tomatoes and a drizzle of olive oil until soft then puréed the veggies with a bit of salt, garlic powder, and a can of diced tomatoes until the consistency was only slightly chunky. Then, I used half of the mixture for this layer.
  • Pasta layer: Lasagna noodles.
  • Cheese layer: I blended together 1 cup of smoked ricotta cheese (best find ever!), 1 cup of silken tofu, 1/2 cup of full fat Greek yogurt, 1 each of cup of chopped spinach and kale, three cloves of roasted garlic, a pinch of red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste and a drizzle of olive oil until smooth, then stirred in 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese. Then, I used half of the mixture for this layer.
  • Pasta layer: Lasagna noodles.
  • "Meat" layer: I heated some olive oil, minced garlic, and Italian seasoning herb mix in a pan until fragrant, then stirred in my package of "meatless ground round" and heated it through. Then, I stirred in a whole jar of tomato sauce. (I used a tomato, basil and garlic blend.) I spooned on half of the "meat" mixture for this layer.
  • Pasta layer: Lasagna noodles.
  • Cheese layer: I used the other half of the cheese mixture for this layer.
  • Pasta layer: Lasagna noodles.
  • "Meat" layer: I used remaining half of the "meat" mixture for this layer.
  • Pasta layer: Lasagna noodles.
  • Vegetable layer: I used the rest of the vegetable mixture for this layer.
  • Pasta layer: Lasagna noodles.
  • Top layer: Tomato sauce, shredded mozzarella, and Italian seasoning. 
  • Bake: Cover lightly with foil that you've sprayed with cooking spray (so the cheese won't stick) and bake in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for about 25 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes more. Let rest 5-10 minutes before serving.
  • Enjoy! Yum and yum.
Happy Meatless Monday!
xoxo



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