All through Lent, our diocesan newspaper has published a weekly meatless recipe, along with an article about the person who created it. (Check out the DELICIOUS soup I made earlier in the season.) For the second week of Lent, it was a delicious vegetable lasagna by chef Jenna Ortner.
When we enrolled the boys in our parish school, Jenna was in charge of the lunch program. Unlike in most public schools, which use a lot of prepackaged foods shipped in from somewhere else, Jenna and her staff prepared everything from scratch from fresh ingredients. Needless to say, the lunches at our boys’ school are to die for. Jenna no longer runs the lunchroom, but the staff there has kept up her tradition of fresh, yummy, made-from-scratch meals. Well, of COURSE I was going to try HER recipe!!
I made this on a Sunday–and not just because it’s a “Sunday Lasagna;” there are a number of steps that make this a little bit time-consuming and might be a little much for a weeknight. Chopping the vegetables takes the most time; if you prepare them ahead of time you could throw it together fairly quickly, though! So without further ado:
California Sunday Lasagna
Start to finish: one hour and 30 minutes
Servings: 6 to 8
1 red pepper, diced
1 small eggplant, peeled and diced
1 zucchini, diced
1 red onion, diced
2 portabella caps, diced
1/2 butternut squash, diced
8-ounces mozzarella cheese, grated
1/2 cup Parmesan, grated
one 25-ounce jar tomato pasta sauce
fresh thyme leaves
I bunch basil (if making pesto)
5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
salt and pepper to taste
Tinkyada Brand Brown Rice Lasagna Noodles (or preferred brand)
4-ounces prepared pesto (if not making pesto)
extra virgin olive oil
Heat oven to 450 F.
Toss diced vegetables with extra virgin olive oil and a small handful of fresh thyme leaves and season with salt and pepper. Roast them on 2 sheet pans until caramelized, about 15 minutes, adding 5 cloves garlic to the vegetables after about 10 minutes. Combine all the roasted vegetables on one tray after they are finished cooking.
Make pesto with 1 bunch basil and extra virgin olive oil (see a recipe or use 4-ounces prepared pesto).
Cook to al dente 1 box lasagna noodles. Lay noodles out on a sheet pan, drizzling with a little olive oil to keep it from sticking together.
Pour 1/4 of the tomato pasta sauce to coat the bottom of a 9-inch-by-13-inch casserole dish, and lay one row of noodles.
Top the row with half the pesto, half the vegetables, 1/3 of the cheeses and another 1/4 of the sauce. Repeat with another layer.
Top the final layer with noodles, sauce and cheese.
Bake covered for 30 minutes at 350 F, or cover and freeze. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before baking.
To make it vegan, omit the cheese. The recipe also works well with individual lasagna rolls.
(Arlington Catholic Herald, Feb. 19, 2013. catholicherald.com)
I like the fact that she uses rice lasagna noodles, which automatically makes this lasagna gluten free. (Of course you could use regular wheat pasta, of you really want; I’ll bet it wouldn’t be as good though…tee hee) I decided to make my own pesto, mainly because most prepared pestos have pine nuts and Moe is allergic. I just threw some basil, parsley, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, salt, and pepper in a food processor and voila’. Easy-peasy.
I did not cover it before cooking because I missed the part that said “bake covered.” It turned out just fine. Oh, and lately our dairy-allergic Moe has been eating cheese without having any reactions, so I didn’t have to make a special cheese-free version for him.
The Verdict: WINNER WINNER LASAGNA DINNER! Joe said it was like a combination of ratatouille and lasagna, and I must say I agree with him. Delicious. We had quite a bit left over and guess what? It was even better the second night. Definitely a make-again meal.
The Herald put out several more meatless recipes this Lent. I don’t know if I’ll prepare all of them (post-Lent, of course), but there are at least a couple more that I’m eager to try.
And now we’re in Holy Week–I feel like Lent has flown by. We said goodbye to one Pope, and hello to another (did you see the video of Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict the day the two of them got together? It brought tears to my eyes). During the spring 40 Days for Life campaign, 554 babies were spared from abortion. This week the United States Supreme Court is debating a couple of cases regarding same-sex “marriage,” and we’ll see what the impact will be from that. I have mostly kept my mouth shut regarding this issue; these last couple of days I’ve been chewing on a few thoughts that I might share here fairly soon. It will be interesting to see what happens. The vitriol is thick; I fear that no matter what the outcome, that is only going to get worse.
I don’t know whether or not I’ll post here before Easter Sunday. Have a blessed Holy Thursday and Good Friday, and a wonderful Easter!