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August 26, 2012

Vegetarian Lasagna

by Anne Paddock

My friend Dania came to visit us this summer and offered to make a vegan lasagna from the the book “Forks Over Knives.”     Of course, I accepted the offer even after she told me it would take four hours to make (because I wasn’t going to have to do it by myself). We worked together to make the lasagna and cut the time down to about an hour and a half but there were two of us – still too much time to spend on one dish for me. The lasagna was really good but we both thought improvements could be made based on our taste preferences.

I loved all the vegetables (except the overabundance of red pepper) and I didn’t miss the ricotta but I did crave the mozarella cheese so instead of vegan lasagna, I opted to make vegetarian lasagna. The preparation time is cut down if a small food processor is used to cut and mince the onion, carrots, basil, and rosemary. With that in mind, I changed some vegetable quantities (more mushrooms and less red pepper) and came up with the following recipe that takes 1 hour to make (and another 45 minutes to bake).

Vegetarian Lasagna (Makes two 13 x 9 pans)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, minced
24 ounces Bella Mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
2 large carrots, peeled and minced
1 large bunch broccoli, cut into small florets – with little or no stems
3 ears of fresh corn, raw with kernels cut off
2 boxes of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained of all liquid
3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 2 inch pieces
1 package of firm tofu
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
1/4 cup of fresh basil leaves, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, minced
3 24-ounce jars of Bavaro Marinara sauce (www.bavarofoods.com)
24-32 lasagna noodles (uncooked) – about 1-1/2 boxes
4 cups of shredded mozarella cheese

  • Have 3 mixing bowls on hand along with a small food processor and mixer.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Place the peeled and sliced pieces of sweet potatoes in a large stock pot filled with water and bring to a boil. Simmer for approximately 10 minutes until the sweet potatoes are tender. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of liquid. Place the sweet potatoes and the 1/2 cup of liquid in a mixing bowl and use a mixer to make mashed sweet potatoes. Set the bowl aside.
  • Pour the olive oil into a large non-stick frying pan and heat to medium.
  • Add the minced onions and saute for 4-5 minutes until the onions are tender and translucent.
  • Add the sliced mushrooms and cook for 3-4 minutes until the mushrooms release their liquid.
  • Remove the onions and mushrooms and place in a large mixing bowl. If any liquid accumulates at the bottom of the bowl, pour it back into the large frying pan (very important).
  • Add the minced carrots and small broccoli florets to the frying pan and saute for 5 minutes over medium heat and then transfer to the bowl with the onions and mushrooms.
  • Add the corn to the frying pan and saute for 2 minutes and then add to the bowl with the vegetables.
  • Add the cayenne pepper, oregano, basil, rosemary, salt and pepper to the vegetables and stir.
  • Drain the tofu and then dry with a paper towel.
  • Crumble the tofu into the vegetable bowl and mix evenly with the vegetables. Set the bowl aside.
  • In a separate small mixing bowl, place the drained spinach.
  • Line up the three bowls: cooked vegetables, spinach, and mashed sweet potatoes.
  • Take the two baking pans and pour a layer of sauce on the bottom of the pan to cover.
  • Place the uncooked noodles on top of the sauce (usually 3-4 across) covering the entire bottom.
  • Pour another layer of sauce over the noodles (this way the noodles cook in the oven, saving time).
  • Place 1/2 of the cooked mixed vegetables over the noodles in each pan creating a thick layer and using up all the mixed vegetables.
  • Sprinkle one cup of shredded mozarella over the vegetable layer in each pan.
  • Cover the vegetables with another layer of noodles and another layer of sauce.
  • Sprinkle the chopped spinach over the layer of sauce using up all the spinach with the two pans.
  • Spread a layer of the mashed sweet potatoes over the spinach in each pan, using up all the sweet potatoes.
  • Add the final layer of noodles over the sweet potatoes and a final topping of sauce making sure to cover the entire surface with sauce.
  • Sprinkle the remaining shredded mozarella cheese over the top of the sauce.
  • Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and bake for an additional 15 minutes.
  • Allow to cool for about 15 minutes and then slice and serve.

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