Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Classic Vegetarian Lasagna

This recipe has been in the family for as long as I can remember. It's dependable, healthy, and delicious! The secret is that is uses a homemade sauce, rather than something out of a jar. I also recommend using whole grain lasagna noodles - they are better for you and will produce a better texture.

Vegetarian Lasagna
Inspired by Better Homes and Gardens: New Dieter's Cookbook




12-16 Lasagna noodles
16 oz package frozen broccoli
2 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1.5 C each: chopped celery, onion, and green pepper
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
2 bay leaves
2 cloves minced garlic
2 beaten eggs
3 C cottage cheese
3/4 C grated Parmesan cheese
1 C shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Start by putting the broccoli into a strainer and running warm water over it. Allow is to defrost and drain
 in the sink. You want to get rid of as much water as possible so that it doesn't make the lasagna too wet.

 Meanwhile, stir the undrained tomatoes, tomato sauce, celery, onion, green pepper, garlic, basil, oregano, and bay leaves together in a large pot. Bring it to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes. When the sauce is thick, remove from heat and take out the bay leaves.

While the sauce cooks, boil water for the noodles. Prepare a large amount of counter space covered with wax paper to drain them on. When the water is boiling, add the noodles and allow them to cook only half way - for about 3 minutes. You want them to still be crunchy so that they cook to perfection in the oven! Remove the pasta from the water with tongs, and lay each strip flat on the counter so that it drain. Do not overlap the noodles - they will stick together!

Finally, mix the eggs, cottage cheese, and Parmesan, and about 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper in a bowl. Add the drained broccoli to this mixture.

Now it is time to assemble. Use a 13 by 9 inch baking dish, or something close in size. First, spread about 1/2 C of the red sauce on the bottom of the pan. Place half of the noodles into the pan next, arranging them in an even layer - you may need to trip some pieces to create a full layer. Top the noodles with half of the broccoli mixture and half of the remaining sauce. Repeat another layer of noodles, broccoli mixture, and finally the last of the tomato sauce.

Bake the lasagna for 25 minutes at 375 degrees. Then sprinkle it with the mozzarella, and return it to the oven for another five minutes, or until the cheese begins to crisp and the juices are bubbling. If the lasagna looks dry at any point in the baking process, feel free to add a little low-sodium V-8 juice. Be careful though, you do not want it to get runny!

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