Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Best Veggie Lasagna Ever!

Hi Everyone - 

It's nearly the weekend - woo hoo!!!  Happy Dance!!

I have an amazing recipe for you to try this weekend that will help you preserve all those beautiful veggies you're getting out of the garden right now to enjoy in the winter months ahead. 

This is seriously the best veggie lasagna ever in the history of veggie lasagnas!!  Even people who don't like veggies....or lasagna....or veggie lasagna....LOVE this dish! I have been making it for a few years now and I always make enough to freeze a couple for future meals. This is a huge hit at my dinner parties! Like, ginormous incredibly gigantic amazingly HUGE!

I'm not gonna lie, there are a lot of photos here and this post is going to be kind of long. That's why it took me a month to get it to you. Sorry about that....

So grab a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and settle in. And then put this on your to-do list for the weekend - you'll be glad you did!

Here we go....

Start by gathering up your veggies. I have mixed it up in the past, depending on what I had at hand. This is what went into this batch:


Oh, and there were mushrooms also. They didn't make the photos. Mushrooms are camera shy, you know. 

There are a number of ways you can cook the veggies for the lasagna layers. I have roasted them in the past which I think is the easiest way as you can cook them all in one big batch. However, if it's summer and too hot for turning on the oven you may want to grill them. I've done that, too, and it turns out well but you need to stand over the grill for about an hour. You can also saute them, which is what I did this time. Because my oven wasn't working. Yikes. So I sauteed them in batches while I was making the garlic Bechamel Sauce. 


While the veggies are cooking in a little olive oil, start making your sauce by melting a stick of salted butter in the bottom of a large sauce pan. 

When it's all melted, throw in your garlic, which you have peeled and chopped. I used 10 cloves for this triple batch lasagna. 

When the garlic is nice and golden brown, whisk in a half cup of all purpose flour, a little at a time, to create the roux. 


It will all come together nicely into sort of a paste. Keep whisking it and cooking over low heat for a few minutes to cook the flour taste out of it. 

Then add milk in slowly, whisking it into the roux. I use organic fat free milk, which works well. I probably used close to a half gallon for this triple recipe. 


Keep your whisk close by - you will need to keep stirring this frequently so it doesn't burn to the bottom of the pot. Heat it on low and eventually it will start to thicken as it heats. After it boils, keep stirring for a few minutes and let it simmer - you will end up with this beautiful creamy white sauce. 


Gorgeous, right? I add some freshly ground pepper and sea salt at this point. More pepper than salt, it doesn't need much salt. 


Keep cooking the veggies in batches until you get through them all. Yes, it takes a while, which is why this is a weekend recipe and definitely not a weeknight-after-work recipe. It's worth it. Trust me on this. 


I cook the tomatoes last. When they have broken down and released their liquid they turn into a beautiful rustic tomato sauce. 


Isn't it just lovely??

Ok, gather the rest of your ingredients. And yes, I will include a recipe at the end. 


You will need lasagna noodles (#captainobvious) - I use the Barilla oven ready lasagna noodles and I love them - you don't have to mess with boiling them first and then handling soggy hot noodles. Easy peasy. 

Some shredded mozzarella. Looks like I used one bag per lasagna, part skim. 

And some freshly grated parmesan. Lots. 

Time now to gather everything together and start layering!


Yup, a lot of dishes. I hope you have a dishwasher. If you don't, go buy one. Now. 


Start with the tomatoes in the bottom layer. If you're not using tomatoes you could start with some of the Bechamel in the bottom layer. You need a 'wet' layer for the bottom to give the noodles something to cook in. I love tomatoes in my lasagna so that's always my first layer. 

Next, a layer of noodles. Then Bechamel - again, to surround the noodles in moisture. 


I just start layering veggies on top of that, kind of randomly but also keeping in mind what I think tastes good together. I did  peppers and zucchini next. 


Then some bechamel, some mozzarella, and some parmesan. Then more noodles, and more veggie layers. 


I think we end up with three layers of noodles in between layers of veggies, sauce, and cheese. Or maybe two layers. This dish is heavy on the veggies so definitely a little on the healthier side. But not to an extreme - I mean, we do have cheeses and buttery white sauce in there. But using fat free milk and part skim mozzarella helps lighten it up. And you are most definitely getting your veggies!

The top layer is more sauce topped with mozzarella and parmesan. 


In the end you will have these absolutely stunningly amazingly beautiful lasagnas!

At this point I would often bake one for dinner and two would go unbaked in the freezer. But since my oven was not working....all three went into the freezer. 


(By the way, I did find the third lid since then....it somehow got packed into another box that was full of Tupperware that I just recently unpacked. Not sure how that happened, but I'm glad it turned up.) 

So, that's it! These lasagnas will feed probably 6 people each for a small dinner party. This is a fantastic way to preserve the bounty of the summer garden or farmer's market to enjoy on a winter's night. 

Mangia!!


Recipe: 

Veggie Lasagna with Garlic Béchamel (makes 3 medium sized lasagnas)

For the garlic béchamel sauce:
http://allrecipes.com/recipe/basic-bechamel-sauce/ for instructions on how to make a Béchamel. 
(I do not use the nutmeg for this recipe. I start with the butter, saute the garlic in the butter, whisk in the flour, then add fat free milk.)
Butter or light butter
10 big cloves garlic, minced
1/2 gallon Fat free milk
1/2 cup Flour

For the veggie layers:
1 patty pan or other yellow summer squash, cut into 1” slices
1 Zucchini, cut into 1" slices
2 small or 1 large eggplant, peeled and cut into 1" slices
2 vidalia onions, cut into 1” slices
3 sweet peppers, cut into 1" slices
Mix of cherry and regular tomatoes, cut up
Pint of mushrooms, trimmed and sliced

Drizzle a little olive oil in a big pan over low-med heat. Sautee the vegetables in batches until soft and fork tender. 

Lasagna noodles (I use the barilla no-bake)
3 bags shredded Mozzarella cheese (I use part skim) 
1 1/2 cups Grated parmesan or romano cheese

To layer:

A layer of tomatoes on the bottom of the dish. Next a layer of noodles. Then Bechamel. Then veggies. More béchamel, then mozzarella and parmesan. More noodles, béchamel, veggies, grated romano or parmesan cheese, noodles, béchamel, mozzarella, grated romano or parm to finish off.  

The amount of layers depend on the size/depth of your baking dish. 

Bake at 375 until golden brown and bubbly. Make sure you make at least one extra for the freezer!! Don’t bake the extra, just layer and wrap. On the day you want to make it, leave it out on the counter before work, come home and pop in the oven. You may need to bake it with foil for part of the time if still really cold or partially frozen, then remove the foil so the top layer can brown.


UPDATE:

When I recently baked one of the previously frozen lasagnas I discovered that the Pattypan Squash skin, while nice and tender when eating it freshly cooked, becomes quite tough when frozen and then recooked. I would suggest if using Pattypan squash that you use only the flesh and discard the skin. 


6 comments:

  1. Yum!!!! Thank you so much for sharing! This recipe looks perfect for fall!

    Happy day friend!
    karianne

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It certainly is, KariAnne! I think your family would be most pleased with this!!

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  2. yum! can't wait to make this next girl's night dinner, but with gluten free noodles! Can't wait to see how that turns out. xoxoxo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Make sure you make enough to freeze!!! xoxoxo

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  3. Replies
    1. It seriously is, Deb. My friends get so excited when I serve this at dinner parties!

      Delete

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