Friday, October 4, 2013

Veggie Lasagna

Today's my birthday, my 30th to be exact. I've never given much thought to it, it's never bothered me before, but this morning it sort of hit me all of a sudden. It's been a really good day though, I've been able to spend it with those who mean most to me. Tomorrow night the hubs and I will get a chance to get out for a couple hours. I think I'm really okay with this whole getting older thing.

Moving onto the food. Let's talk lasagna, one that's filled with good for you veggies and actually tastes good.

The sauce started off with all of these: eggplant, bell peppers, onion, carrots and zucchini. Not something I would have thought I would like in my pasta. But mix them together with a flavorful tomato and beef sauce and it brings your lasagna dish to a whole new level.

See that doesn't look so bad now does it? I made this for my daycare group one day for lunch. I started the sauce while they were eating breakfast, they had tons of questions regarding the veggies I was cutting. They got to sample each one (minus onion), already being familiar with most of them. When it came time to actually eat lunch, they seriously inhaled it. Each asking for seconds, that's what I like to see!

Looks like this will be a keeper for sure. Now I make my lasagna a little bit different than most, I've never liked cottage or ricotta cheese in mine. So I simply leave it out, the recipe below will reflect that but of course it that's your thing, add it. The sauce is obviously a great base for lasagna but for days when time's pressed, ladle it over pasta instead for a quick spaghetti dinner. This made enough for an 8x8-inch pan of lasagna plus I have a small container of sauce leftover I stuck in the freezer. Just enough for a small spaghetti meal for another day.

Veggie Lasagna

2 tbsp olive oil
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 eggplant, chopped into small cubes
1/2 onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lb. ground beef, cooked
2-15 oz. cans tomato sauce
14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
2 tbsp basil
Lasagna noodles, prepared or use no-boil
8 oz. mozzarella cheese
Parmesan cheese

In a large stockpot, heat olive oil. Add in carrot and eggplant, letting cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in onion, bell pepper, zucchini and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes longer, add in salt and pepper. Dump in cooked, crumbled ground beef, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and basil. Stir to combine. Let come to a boil and reduce heat, let simmer for 20 minutes.

Lightly grease an 8x8-inch baking dish. Spread a small amount of sauce onto bottom of pan. Lay down lasagna noodles across the sauce. Ladle more sauce over noodles, sprinkle with parmesan and mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers with noodles, sauce and cheese, you should be able to get three layers. Finish with mozzarella cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes, sauce will be bubbly and cheese is melted and slightly browned. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes before cutting.

Store any leftover sauce in either fridge or freezer.

Adapted from: Not Your Mother's Make Ahead and Freeze Cookbook

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