Thursday, 30 June 2016

Vegetable Lasagne with Roasted Garlic, Chick Peas, Spinach and Grilled Zucchini

My youngest daughter requested this for dinner, making sure to mention that I grill the zucchini! It turned out really well, so well in fact, that my oldest daughter who seems to dislike anything with zucchini in it, ate two husband who always asks where the meat is, ate three pieces!

I had one yellow and one green zucchini, which I thinly sliced and grilled. In the freezer were a small amount of cooked spinach, half a can of chick peas, some grated mozzarella and some Basic Tomato Sauce. A good freezer purge!

The fridge yielded some fresh spinach, ricotta cheese and Parmesan (as well as three Parmesan rinds). After roasting some of the copious amounts of garlic I seemed to have, and wilting the fresh spinach, I was all ready to start.

In a large pot of lightly salted boiling water, cook 12 lasagne noodles, draining and running them under cold water when they are almost cooked, but still firm. Set aside.

Thinly slice, lengthwise:

1 yellow zucchini
1 green zucchini

Grill the zucchini strips on a hot, well oiled grill.

Cook the zucchini about halfway, so it is still crunchy, and has nice grill marks on both sides.

Remove from the grill and set aside to cool.

To make the sauce, using olive oil, cook until soft:

1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced

Add, mashing with a wooden spoon:

24 cloves of garlic, roasted

When the garlic is mashed, add:

2 cups Basic Tomato Sauce
1/2 can chick peas
3 Parmesan rinds

Simmer for half an hour, or until the sauce has thickened slightly, and the chick peas are soft.

Taste and adjust seasoning. Set aside until needed.

In a bowl, combine:

2 cups ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 cup cooked spinach, excess water squeezed out, and roughly chopped

Stir in:

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Assemble the lasagne in a 9" X 13" pan:

Spread a thin layer of the tomato sauce on the bottom, to prevent the noodles from sticking.

Top with a layer of 3 noodles, and then cover that with half of the chick pea - Basic Tomato Sauce

Layer a third of the grilled zucchini over the sauce.

Place a second layer of 3 noodles.

Spread half of the ricotta cheese mixture over these.

Add another layer of zucchini.

Repeat these two layers, ending with a layer of ricotta cheese mixture.

Sprinkle the mozzarella over the top of the last layer.

Bake in a 350F oven, until the lasagne is hot in the centre, and the cheese on the top is golden and starting to crisp.

Leave the lasagne to rest for 5 - 10 minutes, so that the layers can set up, before cutting and serving. This helps to prevent the inside of the lasagne from oozing out when it is served.

  • This meal allowed me to use up so many more items than I originally thought I was going to use...and that is always a good thing.
  • It can be adapted to whatever you have available...I think that artichoke hearts would have been a nice addition to the spinach and ricotta. I also think that roasted red peppers, grilled mushrooms and eggplant, roasted or sundried tomatoes, olives or olive tapenade would be things to consider next time I make this.
  • My daughter's original request was to grill the zucchini and use it instead of pasta for the layers, but I did not have enough zucchini, so I opted to use the pasta and create layers of zucchini in between. More planning is necessary to eliminate the noodles and only use zucchini. Bigger zucchini would also make a difference, mine were quite small!
  • Store bought sauce can be used if you have no Basic Tomato Sauce. This was my last container in the freezer, so I am going to be making more soon.
  • Other cheese that can be added to the ricotta instead of Parmesan include asiago, fontina, soft goat cheese. Sliced bocconcini can be used instead of the grated mozzarella on top of the lasagne.
  • The dish can be assembled ahead and kept refrigerated, or can be frozen. The individual components can also be made a few hours, or a day ahead and kept well wrapped, in the refrigerator.

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