So, I know what you’re all thinking. “Who is this vegetarian?? And dang, this fiancée Anna girl is super lucky. She’s marrying a boy who not only likes to cook, but cooks super well and has dinner hot and ready on the table by the time she gets home from work every night. What a brat! She better be grateful!” Well, grateful I am for my gender-bending honey, but let me assure you, I can cook too, and sometimes, I even do!
Tonight was one of those nights that I let the chef of the house take a break from toiling away in the kitchen. We’re having some crazy snowstorms here in DC, so this was a meal meant to clean out the cupboards and give us some hearty sustenance: lasagna! Lasagna is one of my cooking staples: I made my first, a three-cheese wonder, as part of some school project in 11th grade, and I’ve been breaking (or baking, haha) them out ever since. Until, that is, the dreaded “Lasagna/Ricotta Incident of 2008,” in which we discovered Evan was lactose-intolerant… Since then, I’ve rarely made it, but every once in awhile the situation calls for it, and the snowstorm seemed to be calling for some baked tomato-y/cheesy goodness.
Serves 6 (large portions, perfect for a snow storm)
-1 box Lasagna noodles (not the kind you don’t have to cook first—those taste icky and in my experience don’t fully cook in the oven—gross!)
-1 jar Tomato sauce (if you’re fancy-pants like Evan, you’ll insist on making your own—I, on the other hand, really like the pre-made variety that has wine in it—tonight, it was Muir Glen’s Cabernet Sauvignon tomato sauce)
-Cheese! Tonight I used a little parmesean and 2 packages of a rice-substitute mock mozzarella. (Honestly, I didn’t mean to buy the fake cheese—it was the only mozz left during the pre-storm ransancking of Whole Foods, and I grabbed it without fully reading the label). In the past, pre-2008 incident, I used fresh ricotta. I’ve also used feta in the past.
-Vegetables-whatever you got! Peppers, onions, zucchini, eggplant, fresh tomatoes, mushrooms you name it. I don’t like spinach, but that would probably work if you’re into that sort of thing. My little signature addition is beans: garbanzo or white beans—adds a little more heartiness, and protein: key for the vegetarian’s health! For tonight’s lasagna, I used onions, thawed frozen grilled peppers (cupboard scraping at it’s finest!), and white beans.
1. Cook the noodles according to their package’s directions. Once cooked, lay them flat on paper towels so they don’t stick to each other.
2. Preheat oven to 375
3. Line the bottom of your casserole dish with sauce—key to non-sticking lasagna!
4. Begin the layering process! Noodles down first, then coat with sauce, then cheese, then noodles, sauce, cheese. Repeat until you’ve used about ½- ¾ of your noodles.
5. Here comes the vegetable layer! I suppose you could integrate the vegetables through out, but I prefer to dump them all in 1 layer, then cover with cheese. You can first sauté the vegetables in oil in a pan on the stove—especially if you’re using crunchier veggies—but if you’re feeling daring, just throw ‘em in raw. I’d never done that, but in my snowstorm-induced laziness, didn’t feel like sautéing my onions, and it turned out fine, despite Evan’s concerns!
6. Proceed with the layering of noodles, sauce, and cheese, until you run out of room or ingredients.
7. Bake for ~45 minutes, until the top layer of cheese looks melted, brown and bubbly.