Monday, March 30, 2009

White Vegetable Lasagna

I'm adding White Vegetable Lasagna to the Moms of Many cooking-for-a-crowd post, since it makes a big (for us) 10 x 15 inch pan of lasagna. You could double it if you had two pans that big, but in that case you'd also need some place large enough to chill all that lasagna before baking. Since we don't have a walk-in fridge and we usually have other food in the one we do have, one pan is the most I've ever made. But maybe you could think of a way to double it.

"Brunch Lasagna" is a make-ahead recipe I clipped from Canadian Living years ago. I always thought that the basic idea was good, but that some of the details were wrong. For one thing, even when I made it as written, 20 ounces of frozen broccoli NEVER fit into an 8-inch square pan; the only way it worked for me was in a 9 x 13 pan. Also you have to crack all those lasagna noodles to fit them in the small pan: an operation which should require safety glasses.

The other thing is that, in my opinion, frozen broccoli (at least the economy-brand variety) is Not a Nice Vegetable. You end up with mostly chopped-up stems rather than florets, and as a main ingredient in lasagna, that just doesn't cut it. [2010 update: Since writing this I have found that there are brands of frozen broccoli that are a little nicer--but of course they cost more.]

So this weekend, having a guest who gave up meat for Lent, I gave the recipe a makeover and stretched it to fit an even bigger pan, and I was pretty pleased with the way it turned out. It also made the preparation somewhat easier, since you don't have to chop all the vegetables. It's not necessarily more frugal, since its success depends on buying a package of more expensive frozen mixed vegetables (and I don't mean the peas-carrots-lima beans type); but if you're going to go to the trouble of making it, you might as well do it right.

First, here's the original recipe:

Canadian Living's "Brunch Lasagna"

Ingredients

1 tsp canola or vegetable oil
3 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 sweet red or green pepper, chopped
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp dried basil or oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 1/2 cup 1% milk
20 oz frozen broccoli, thawed
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
4 uncooked lasagna noodles
1 egg
1 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese, or ricotta, cheese
1 cup mozzarella, shredded, part-skim
2 tbsp parmesan, freshly grated
2 tbsp fresh bread crumbs

Directions

In large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat; cook mushrooms, onion, garlic and sweet pepper, stirring often, for about 5 minutes or until softened.

Sprinkle flour over top of vegetables; stir to coat well. Stir in basil, salt and pepper. Gradually stir in 3/4 cup of the milk; cook, stirring often, for about 10 minutes or until sauce is smooth and
thickened. Stir in broccoli and parsley; set aside. Halve lasagna noodles; set aside.

In food processor or blender, blend together egg, cottage cheese and remaining milk until smooth. Spread one-third into lightly greased 8-inch square glass baking dish. Spread with half of the broccoli mixture, cover with 4 noodle halves. spread with half of the remaining cottage cheese mixture, then half of the mozzarella; cover with remaining noodles. Spread with remaining cottage cheese mixture, then mozzarella. Top with remaining broccoli mixture.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or for up to 16 hours. Combine Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs; sprinkle over top of broccoli mixture. Bake, uncovered, in 375F 190C oven for (I think it said 40 minutes, which doesn't seem like enough--use your own judgment). Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Per Serving: about 275 calories, 23 g protein, 8 g fat, 30 g carbohydrate, high source fibre, excellent source calcium

Source: Canadian Living magazine [Jan 96] Presented in an article by Carol Ferguson. Recipes from Canadian Living Test Kitchen.

Here's what we did with it:

Treehouse White Vegetable Lasagna

Ingredients:

2 tsp olive oil
3 cups mushrooms, sliced
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp dried basil
pinch of salt (optional)
1/4 tsp pepper
2 cups 2% milk plus extra as needed
1 500-g package Europe's Best "Nature's Balance" frozen vegetables [link updated 2011] (leaf spinach, sugar snap peas, broccoli, asparagus, red pepper, yellow pepper, garlic sprouts); I left the frozen package in the refrigerator overnight to thaw it a bit
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
8 uncooked lasagna noodles (that may not sound like enough noodles, but it works)
2 eggs
2 cups (500-g container) low-fat cottage cheese
2 cups mozzarella, shredded (be as generous with this as you feel you can be, nutritionally and otherwise)
2 tbsp Parmesan cheese (or more)
2 tbsp fresh bread crumbs--I used about triple this, enough to cover the top of the dish

Directions:

Grease a 10 x 15-inch pan (ours is Pyrex).

In large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat; cook mushrooms for about 5 minutes or until softened.

Sprinkle flour over top of mushrooms; stir to coat well. Stir in basil, salt and pepper. Gradually stir in half of the milk; cook, stirring often, until sauce is smooth and thickened. Stir in frozen vegetables and parsley; set aside.

In food processor or blender, blend together egg, cottage cheese and remaining milk until smooth. (If you use the food processor, do it gently--one time I tried this and the milk and egg sprayed out of the machine.)

This is where things get mathematical:

Spread one-third of the milk-eggs-cottage cheese into the baking dish. Spread with half of the vegetable mixture. Cover with 4 lasagna noodles: three arranged lengthwise and one crosswise (you'll probably have to break a bit off the end of that one to make it fit; the leftover bits can just go in with the other noodles).

Spread with half of the remaining cottage cheese mixture, then half of the mozzarella; cover with remaining noodles in the same pattern (3 lengthwise, 1 across). Spread with remaining cottage cheese mixture, then mozzarella. Top with remaining vegetable mixture.

Depending on how thick you got the vegetable sauce, you may want to add more milk around the edges. You're not going for soupy, but it should look at least somewhat wet, if that makes sense.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or for up to 16 hours.

Combine Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs; sprinkle over top of broccoli mixture. Bake, uncovered, in 375F 190C oven, or adjust it as I did: I started it at 375 degrees but turned it down to 325 degrees after about 20 minutes and let it cook for another hour; I wasn't in a hurry for it to be done and I didn't want to scorch the topping (I did end up sliding a piece of foil over the top when the crumbs started to get darker than I wanted). Let sit for 10 minutes before serving. If the edges seem dry when you take it out, you can sprinkle them with a bit more milk.

Served six hungry people along with sweet potatoes and salad; and we had some leftovers. So I would say it should serve 8 nicely.

3 comments:

Birdie said...

Sounds yummy!

Headmistress, zookeeper said...

That does look delish! But... We need you to add a link back to one of us in the Four Moms, 35+ Kids Cooking For A Crowd recipe Link-Up so others can join in the fun.

Kimberly @ RaisingOlives said...

I love recipes that can be made ahead and when I read "sugar snap peas", YUM.

Thanks!

Related Posts with Thumbnails