Things have changed a lot since I was a kid. And one of the biggest changes has been people’s eating habits.
But in these health-conscious times, we rarely have red meat more than once a week, and in some cases, that’s not even the case, since we eat a lot of fowl (chicken and pheasant) as well as fish (both fresh-water and from the ocean).
In fact, some of my favorite meals have been meatless. Consider the lasagna I prepared today. Some people wouldn’t even think twice about a vegetarian version of this Italian favorite, but I believe the recipe that we just sampled was the best lasagna ever to tickle my taste buds.
Probably what made the dish so appealing and delicious in my view was the fact that a good portion of the ingredients were from my garden. The Roasted Vegetable Lasagna contained eggplant, tomatoes and zucchini that I grew as well as parsley from our herb garden.
The only thing that I would remotely resemble a minus was that it’s not the kind of dish you can have on the table in less than 30 minutes. But considering the outcome, that’s something I can accept.
Roasted Vegetable Lasagna
3 cups sliced zucchini
3 cups sliced mushrooms
3 cups eggplant, peeled and quartered
2 red peppers, seeded and sliced
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 teaspoons dried oregano, divided
¾ teaspoon salt, divided
¾ teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
8 cups plum or Roma tomatoes, quartered
3 cloves garlic, peeled, sliced
½ teaspoon fennel seed
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons sugar
1 15-ounce container low-fat ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
Nonstick cooking spray
9 no-boil lasagna noodles
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Have ready 2 large sided baking sheets, such as a jelly roll pan.
On one baking sheet place the zucchini, mushrooms, eggplant and red peppers. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons olive oil, 2 teaspoons oregano, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper and toss to coat.
On the other baking sheet, toss the tomato wedges with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, garlic, remaining 1 teaspoon oregano, fennel seed, ¼ teaspoon black pepper and red pepper flakes.
Place both in the oven and roast uncovered for 15 minutes. Turn the vegetables over and bake an additional 15 to 20 minutes. Remove roasted vegetables and roasted tomatoes from oven.
Carefully place the tomatoes and all pan juices in a bowl and add the sugar and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt. Mash the tomatoes to create a sauce.
In a medium-sized bowl combine the ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, parsley and remaining ¼ teaspoon black pepper; set aside.
Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. To begin layering the lasagna, place about 1/3 cup of tomato sauce in the baking dish, spreading to cover the bottom of the dish. Top with 3 noodles, half the ricotta cheese mixture, half the roasted vegetable mixture and ¼ cup of the tomato sauce. Begin again with 3 noodles, remaining cheese mixture, remaining roasted vegetables and remaining 3 noodles. Top noodles with remaining tomato sauce and a ¼ cup Parmesan cheese. Bake lasagna uncovered for 30 to 35 minutes or until edges are bubbly and the cheese topping is golden brown.
Yield: Serves 10.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 277 calories, 42 percent of calories from fat, 13 grams fat (5 grams saturated), 26 grams carbohydrates, 14 grams protein, 369 milligrams sodium, 25 milligrams cholesterol, 284 milligrams calcium, 4 grams fiber.