RECIPE: Lighten Up! Vegetable Lasagna




This lasagna I have made a few times, and it has become a favorite with the family. My daughter has no idea she is eating a hearty helping of vegetables, and cottage cheese is a lighter cheese to use than ricotta (Though ricotta is just fine). I have also been using whole wheat oven ready noodles from Archer Farms (Target store's private label). You can use normal ones, but if you want to eat healthier, they are a yummy switch. Also,  I would spend the extra couple of bucks and get a higher end, better jar sauce. It's worth it. And finally, this is great for even a weeknight. I prep it all and assemble it until the moment of putting it in the oven, and I just cover it with tinfoil. Then I put it in the fridge, and I get it out the night I need to serve it for dinner. Let it warm up to room temp as I preheat the oven and bake it off then. Works great!

Lighten Up! Vegetable Lasagna 

Ingredients:

12 sheets oven ready lasagna noodles, preferably whole wheat
1 Tbsp. Olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1 medium zucchini, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 medium yellow squash, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 cup white wine
8 oz. baby spinach, washed
2 ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. dried parsley
1 Tbsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground pepper
1 container (15 oz.) cottage cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella (low fat if you wish)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese plus 1/4 extra Parmesan cheese for assembly
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 large 24 oz. jar good quality tomato sauce

 
Directions:

Using a small, fine sieve, drain the cottage cheese to get a lot of the water out. Let it drain for 20 minutes, using a spoon to jostle it around every so often to get more water out.
 




In a large saute pan, heat olive oil on medium heat. Add onion and garlic until onions are translucent. Add the mushrooms, cook for a few minutes or until the mushrooms release their juices. Add zucchini and squash, and cook for 4 minutes, stirring often. Add the white wine and scrape the bits up from the bottom of the pan as you reduce down the wine. Add the spinach and the tomatoes, and cook until the spinach begins to wilt, folding the spinach into the rest of the vegetables. Stir in the basil, parsley, 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Take off the heat and set aside.

 

Now back to your cottage cheese-add the cottage cheese to a bowl and add the nutmeg, Parmesan cheese, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Mix until combined.

 










Now time to assemble. (If you are baking the same night-preheat the oven to 425˚ while assembling.) In a 13 x 9 baking dish, layer 1 cup sauce along the bottom of the pan. Lay the noodles, 4 noodles side by side lengthwise, overlapping a little. Next layer the cottage cheese in an even layer on the noodles. Then add half the vegetables evenly over the cheese. Layer 3/4 cup of mozzarella cheese evenly over the vegetables. Layer 4 noodles again on top of the vegetables, slightly overlapping. Add another cup of sauce over the noodles, covering them generously. Sprinkle 1/8 cup Parmesan cheese over the sauce. Then repeat with the cheese mixture, vegetables, mozzarella, noodles, more sauce. When you get to that last layer of noodles, pour the rest of the sauce over the whole lasagna. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella, and if you have some extra Parmesan cheese, sprinkle that on top. Cover with tin foil. Store in the fridge until ready to bake. Bake at 425˚ for 25-30 minutes with the tin foil on. Uncover the foil, and cook for 5-10 more minutes until hot, bubbly and golden. Let sit for ten minutes before cutting or else it won't cut well. Serve warm.

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