misty’s vegetarian lasagna

I’m not a vegetarian. I’m an unabashed omnivore. On a sliding scale from meat lover on one end to veggie nibbler on the other I’m probably a seven. A little more than half way. But I do enjoy a hearty vegetarian meal–if it makes me forget it’s meatless. Taranee’s friend Misty has this recipe for vegetarian lasagna that does that. It’s satisfying without being heavy. I had a Senior Moment while I was assembling the pie and now I have leftover lasagna noodles! Oh well. I’ll just cut them up and put them in some chicken vegetable soup.

You’ll note as you gather your mis en place for the lasagna that you must use Italian seasoning. You can use store-bought but even better, make your own. Here is a great recipe for Italian seasoning. It is by Dean Ornish and it’s called

A Little Italian

2 tablespoons each of:
dried basil
dried marjoram
dried oregano
ground coriander
dried thyme
dried rosemary
dried savory
1-2 teaspoons hot red pepper flakes, optional
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

The method is very simple. Process all the spices and herbs until well blended. Store in a jar in a cool dry place and use as needed in pasta sauces and salad dressings.

Vegetarian Lasagna (serves 10-12)

Ingredients:
2 eggs
2 cups reduced fat cream style cottage cheese
15 ounces reduced fat ricotta cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed Italian seasoning
2 tablespoons butter or margarine (I substituted olive oil for 1 tablespoon)
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 to 1 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 cups skim milk
2 (10 oz) packages frozen chopped spinach or broccoli, thawed and drained thoroughly (I used 2 x 7 oz bags fresh baby spinach. If you use fresh spinach, increase the flour to 3 tablespoons.)
1 medium carrot, shredded
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
salt to taste
9 oven ready lasagna noodles (I used cooked noodles and they tasted better)
2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (oops. Forgot it, but didn’t miss it)
1 cup marinara sauce 1 18oz jar marinara sauce

Preparation
Beat the eggs lightly in a medium bowl. Stir in the cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, and Italian seasoning. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, onion, and garlic. Sauté until tender. Stir in the flour and pepper. Add the milk. Cook until thickened and bubbly, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in the spinach, carrot, 1/2 cup of Parmesan, and salt. [Cook's Note: If the sauce starts to thicken too quickly, remove it from the heat.]

Now here’s the part where I got mixed up:
1. Layer 1/3 of the spinach mixture and 1/3 of the noodles into a greased 9×13 inch baking dish.

2. Layer half the cottage cheese mixture, half of the remaining spinach mixture, half the mozzarella cheese, half the cheddar cheese, and half of the remaining noodles.

3. Layer the remaining half of the cottage cheese mixture, the remainder of the spinach mixture, the cottage cheese, the cheddar cheese, and the last of the noodles.

4. Spread the marinara sauce on top. sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.

5. I recommend putting the lasagna on a baking tray to catch the spills. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until heated through. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Cook’s Note: you may assemble the lasagna, cover with foil and chill for up to 48 hours before baking. To freeze, wrap the unbaked lasagna tightly with foil. Freeze for up to 2 months. To serve, bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for 35 to 40 minutes longer or until hot and bubbly. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.

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Lasagna Fet Mot

I love lasagna.  But baking one in Bangkok poses quite a challenge. Ricotta cheese, a main ingredient, is quite expensive. I wondered, Is there a lasagna recipe that doesn’t need ricotta cheese? Well, I found one on food.com! It called for a pound and a half of fet mot (Thai for fresh mozzarella) cheese and NO ricotta.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 large chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 lbs Italian sausage or 1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef or 1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 (12 ounce) cans tomato paste
  • 1 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce
  • 3 cups hot water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons oregano or 1 1/2 teaspoons other Italian spices
  • 1/2 lb cooked and drained lasagna noodles (I substituted no-cook lasagna noodles)
  • 1 1/2 lbs sliced mozzarella cheese (I used grated)

 Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven 350˚F.
  2. I used chicken breasts cut into 1 inch cubes and processed in 6  one- second pulses in a food processor. Do this in three batches.
  3. Fry garlic and onion in hot oil until soft.
  4. Add meat and cook until crumbly. Drain oil. I had no oil to drain because I used chicken.
  5. Mix in salt, pepper, spices, tomato sauce, tomato paste and water.
  6. Simmer uncovered for 45 minutes. Simmer 30 minutes for ground chicken.
  7. In a shallow 9×13 inch pyrex dish, put a thin layer of sauce.
  8. I used no-cook lasagna noodles. Layer half the noodles, then sauce, and top with half the cheese.
  9. Repeat layers ending with mozzarella cheese.
  10. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes before serving. Cut into squares.