Location: Los Angeles, California, U.S. Outlying Islands

I am a graduate student in American Literature...

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Vegetarian Lasagne

I made a vegetarian lasagne last night, which one of my Texas friends claimed "tasted better than lasagne with meat." This was a huge complement, since this is a guy who usually eats one big meal a day, consisting of a large steak (which he cooks up at about 2 in the morning). Later in the morning, after he's had some sleep, he drinks a cup of vinegar. I kid you not. This guy must have a stomach of steel (I know you are wondering why I am bragging about a compliment on my cooking coming from Vinegar-Meat Man, but I'll take 'em where I can get 'em). At least he cooks the meat. I have a friend who used to be on the "Neanderthal diet," which consisted mainly of raw beef. I know it's good to be in touch with one's roots and all, but isn't that going a bit far? Another person I know eats her meat "after it's been walked through a warm kitchen."

Okay, okay, enough of this meat talk. Isn't this supposed to be a vegetarian blog? The recipe below is from my homemade cookbook. The one I made yesterday was much simpler; instead of the zuccini mixture, I sliced eggplants, spread some garlicky olive oil over them, sprinkled with thyme and oregano, and cooked them at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Then I layered these into the lasagne instead of the other veggies, but I still used the mushrooms (in the tomato sauce). I also didn't use the pesto, but if you make the recipe below, spices and all, I can guarantee that people will like it (if they know what's good for them). The Indonesian catsup can be hard to find, but it's amazing, and a dash will brighten almost any stir-fried dish or sauce.

Spectacular Vegetarian Lasagna
(time consuming, but worth the effort--and can be simplified, as mentioned above)

Tomato Sauce
2 onions, chopped (preferably Vidalia or other sweet onion)
oil and butter
pinch brown sugar
1 large tin crushed tomatoes
1 tsp. Katsup manis (Indonesian soy sauce), if you have it
1 tsp. Fenugreek
1 tsp. Coriander
1 tsp. Sweet paprika
½ tsp. Dried thyme
1 tsp. Dried rosemary
1 tsp. Dried oregano
crushed red pepper flakes and salt, to taste

6 large white mushrooms
4 zucchinis, cubed
one bay leaf
one head scallion tops
2 cloves garlic
½ tsp. Sambal oelek or sambal badjak (Indonesian red pepper paste), optional
½ tsp. Mustard powder
½ tsp. Onion powder

Pesto (optional)
In blender, mix ¼ cup olive oil and ¼ cup walnut oil with 3 cloves garlic. Add ¼ cup parmesan, 2-3 Tbsp. pine nuts, and 2 cups fresh basil.

lasagne noodles (preferably no-bake noodles, ideally fresh ones)
1 ½ to 2 cups fresh ricotta
1 log goat cheese (or 4 ounces sheep’s cheese if you prefer)
1/3 cup parmesan or pecorino
½ package frozen chopped spinach, microwaved for three minutes, or 1 bunch fresh spinach (preferably)
fresh basil

1.Sautee spinach in a little olive oil and butter for a few minutes (until wilted). Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
2.Sautee 2 cups onion in butter, oil, a pinch of salt and a large pinch of sugar until translucent. Add tomatoes, katsup manis, fenugreek, coriander, thyme, rosemary, oregano, crushed red peppers and salt. Let simmer while you prepare other ingredients.
3.Cook mushrooms, zucchinis and garlic in olive oil with bay leaf, scallions, sambal, mustard powder, onion powder, and then add salt and pepper to taste.
4.Make pesto and add half cup to zucchini mixture.
5.Mix ricotta into cooled spinach.
6.Put a thin layer of tomato sauce in a casserole. Layer fresh lasagne noodles, all of zucchini mixture, goat cheese, ½ of tomato sauce, more noodles, spinach mixture, parmesan or pecorino, more tomato sauce, etc. until you are out of ingredients. Top with fresh basil. Bake covered at 350 for 30 minutes and uncovered for 15 more minutes or until browned and bubbly.


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5:53 AM  
Anonymous Kristen said...

He's right - this lasagna is better than meat lasagna! I made it for a party that had only 1 vegetarian in the group and everyone left with a link to this blog to make it at home. btw - we're in Austin, Texas!

8:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Help!have never blogged & don't even know how to. Hope am doing this right... but on this fabulous sounding lasagne of yours, Tova; I can't determine how many it will serve. Am planning party soon with a total of 10 persons. Please help! do I double this or triple this recipe? So many thanks ahead of time. Marisa

8:36 AM  

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