Sunday, April 30, 2017

Vegetarian Lasagna

Let me forewarn you: this lasagna is a LABOR OF LOVE. There are so many pots and bowls required for this recipe. It's usually a deal breaker for me, but this is a GREAT dish. I make sure I reserve this dish for a Sunday dinner - when I have a lot more time to prep dinner. If you have a family of 4 or 5, you will be rewarded with leftovers abound. And, we all know that lasagna is even better the next day!

I read America's Test Kitchen's Cook's Country from cover to cover religiously. In the last issue, they perfected a recipe for Hearty Beef Lasagna. My crew likes lasagna, but I don't eat meat. We can make this work! I substituted finely chopped mushrooms for the ground beef. I added tomato paste for some more meaty, umami flavoring. The mashed sweet potato was for no other reason than I love sweet potatoes! They add a richness to the lasagna and make it even heartier. I was a little wary about the "no cook b├ęchamel" because cottage cheese isn't a favorite and it was a little runnier than I was expecting. During the cooking process, the cottage cheese loses its "curd-ines" and the sauce melds nicely with the cheese and tomato sauce.

The 5-year old is notorious for asking, "What's for dinner?" "Lasagna? I hate lasagna. What's lasagna?" My crew has an adventurous palette, but only when they don't know what's in the dish to begin with. I served them the lasagna without disclosing the mushrooms, sweet potatoes, and cottage cheese and they Ate. It. Up! A win for the home team.

This is certainly a time-consuming dish to make. If I do make this dish for you, you will know that I like you very much!

Vegetarian Lasagna
Adapted from Cook's Country, Feb/Mar 2017 issue

12 lasagna noodles
3 c shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
2 T butter
2 T milk

1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz mushroom, finely chopped
2 T tomato paste
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes, drained
1 14-oz can tomato sauce
1 T dried oregano
1 t red pepper flakes

Cream Sauce
1 c cottage cheese
2 c grated parmesan cheese
1 c heavy cream
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cornstarch

1. Cook the sweet potato in a pot with butter and milk for 30 minutes until tender. Mash and set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray 9x13 pan with vegetable spray. Set aside.
3. Cook noodles as per directions on package (add 1 T oil to water to prevent noodles from sticking to each other). Drain noodles and set aside.
4. Heat oil in dutch oven over medium/high heat. Add onions and mushrooms cooking until mushrooms give up their juice (about 10 min).
5. Scrape up down bits on bottom of pan and add garlic. Cook for 1 minute until fragrant.
5. Add tomato paste, mix into vegetable mixture, and cook for another 2 minutes.
6. Add diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. Stir, reduce heat and let simmer for 5 minutes.
7. For the cream sauce, whisk all ingredients together in a bowl.
8. Cover the bottom of the baking dish with noodles. Using a table knife or offset spatula, cover the noodles with half the mashed sweet potatoes.
9. Spread 1.5 c of marinara sauce, then 1/2 cup of the cream mixture, then 1/2 c mozzarella over the noodles.
10. Repeat steps 8 & 9.
11. Lay 3 remaining noodles on top, cover with cream sauce, and then remaining mozzarella and parmesan.
12. Spray a piece of aluminum foil with vegetable spray, cover baking dish, and bake for 30 minutes.
13. Remove foil and cook for an additional 25-30 minutes until top is brown and bubbly.
14. Allow lasagna to cool and set up for 30 minutes before slicing and serving.

To save for later, end at Step 11. Cover with greased aluminum foil and refrigerate. When cooking, bake as directed above, but increase covered baking time to 55 minutes.

If you want to freeze the lasagna, follow the entire recipe. Allow the lasagna to cool completely, then double wrap in foil, then plastic wrap, and freeze. Allow lasagna to thaw in the fridge. Then bake at 375 until warmed through and bubbly.

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