Friday, April 12, 2013

Veggie Lasagna – oh just trust me

My father-in-law gives me that same look when I use fruit in any of my cooking… but I always remind him that, hey, I was a professional. And he always winds up liking whatever it is. So too was the case with my husband and this veggie lasagne which he found himself craving for the couple of days it lasted.

Somehow, even with something like lasagna that yields leftovers, I still get hungry and pounce on my plate before taking a picture. So unfortunately we have no finished lasagna money shot, but I prolifically snapped and soiled the camera and iphone while assembling, so at least we have those.

Let’s start with how I cheated. I used prepared tomato sauce, and no-boil pasta, and I’d do it again. I have other, scratch recipes that I lovingly prepare as well, but this is great for getting a delicious, healthy meal together when you’re staring down a 130 mile commute the next day.. let’s say.

I like Newman’s marinara sauces, so I started with his Sockarooni which has lots of herbage and flavor, but which I kicked further into gear by adding a little hot stuff and sauteed mushrooms. Just (as usual) make sure to cook the shrooms in batches over high heat so the get a hard sear and don’t start steaming, because we want to add bulk and flavor to the lasagna but definitely not water.

marinara sauce with mushrooms

The lasagna my mother always made when I was growing up was from a recipe called ‘American Lasagna’ from a magazine or something presumably. Anyway, it calls for cottage cheese and cheddar cheese and I’ve come to love both of those in lasagna. I really like the larger curd in the cottage cheese as opposed to how fine ricotta is. And cheddar gives a hearty, sharp flavor that is addictive and you’ll find you sometimes miss it when eating other versions of the dish.

cottage cheese for lasagne

Then I’m trying this new (to me anyway) product out.. baby kale.

wegmans organic baby kale

I sauteed it over medium high heat for a few minutes (again, hot enough to keep it dry and not leach out water) and ran a knife through it a couple times.

sauteed baby kale

In it went with the cottage cheese.

cottage cheese with baby kale

I couldn’t justify buying two types of cheddar cheese, and I reeeally wanted to buy this horseradish cheddar, so I chopped some up for my lasagna and now have some around for snacking. It worked for me, and Brian liked it too, but I probably have an unusual affinity for horseradish and heat. So I’m writing the recipe with regular, unleaded sharp cheddar but if you want to run with scissors and eat an awesome ham and cheese sandwich the next day, try the horseradish version.

organic horseradish cheddar

I knew I was going to be making this, so I saved the rapini stems from cooking the day before. I chopped them up and sprinkled over the layers of lasagna as I assembled.

rapini stems

So onto assembly, with a new fav cheat – these Delallo organic, no-boil wheat pasta sheets. No boiling, no soaking. Nada, and it comes out delicate an supple.

delallo organic pasta

The box looks small but there are 15 sheets in there and they’re big enough to go across a 9×13″ pan. So you get three good layers of five sheets each. I started by spooning a bit of sauce and then a layer of pasta.

wheat no boil pasta

Then schmear a third of the cheese and kale business. A sprinkle of the chopped rapini stems (or olives or other leftover etc), sauce and repeat.

vegetable lasagna

After a few minutes I had this. And about 40 minutes after that I had a damn skippy lasagna that was devoured and never again photographed. Maybe next time.

vegetarian lasagna


Vegetale Lasagna with Baby Kale

Yield: about 8 servings

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes


3 garlic cloves, minced
1 quart (about 6 oz by weight) baby kale (or any other leafy green)
12 oz mushrooms, medium thick slices
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp vegetable or coconut oil
1 24 oz jar marinara sauce
1 lb cottage cheese (I use lowfat, large curd if I can find it)
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded or chopped
2 cups green vegetable, cooked, chopped - or any other leftover
1/2 cup parmesan, grated
1 (9-ounce) box DeLallo No-Boil Whole Wheat Lasagna (15 sheets)
salt and pepper to taste


- heat olive oil over medium high heat and add garlic, cooking for 30 - 40 seconds
- add baby kale, season with salt and pepper and saute until wilted and cooked through, about 2 minutes; remove to cutting board to cool and chop
- heat coconut or vegetable oil over high heat and working in batches, sear and cook mushrooms; allow to cool and mix into marinara sauce
- combine chopped kale, cottage cheese, cheddar cheese and 1/4 cup parmesan
- heat oven to 350 degrees and assemble lasagna starting with spooning a couple of tablespoons into the bottom of a 9x13" pyrex dish
- tile five sheets of pasta int he pan, spread 1/3 of the cheese mixture over top; and top that with a quarter of marinara sauce
- repeat two times and then sprinkle remaining parmesan on the top
- cover and bake for 40 minutes then uncover and bake another 10 minutes or so until bubbly

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