“However painful the process of leaving home, for parents and children, the really frightening thing for both would be the prospect of the child never leaving home.”
Robert Neelly Bellah
Truly Hearty Vegetarian Lasagna
In the past 18 months or so, I’ve had to unlearn a long-standing habit… I’ve had to cut back the amount of food I make, and actually just HAVE around the house. I’m sure many of you have gone through the same process when one child leaves home to go to university, particularly when that one child is of the boy variety.
It took me a while to get the hang of cooking for 3 instead of 4, and 3 with sort of semi-normal eating habits rather than 3 plus 1 who SEEMINGLY has normal eating habits but really he eats normal sized meals PLUS 2 or 3 MORE of them most days.
I also started experimenting with WAY less meat when the boy left for school. I still get opposition but since the remaining strict meat-a-tarian is now outnumbered and although there are a lot of heavy sighs, he goes along politely and is generally rather pleased with the results… even if a little surprised.
This lasagna is a perfect example of that! What’s nice also is that it’s very flexible when it comes to ingredients. I think zucchini or even bell peppers would work rather well in place of the eggplant. You will just need to adjust the moisture level in other areas so you don’t wind up with a sopping wet mess.
In defense of eggplant however (and meat-a-tarians everywhere), it does, along with the mushrooms, add a lot of that wonderful meaty taste referred to as umami when no meat is actually present.
Cheese-y deliciousness with TONS of umami, this Vegetarian Lasagna quickly became a favourite around here. I think doubling the recipe would not be a mistake as it’s equally as delicious as leftovers.
I’ll be away next week and will return with something wonderful for you in two weeks time. I’m heading to the east coast with my little one to tour a couple more universities for next year. Looks like I’ll be having to re-learn amounts all over again! Honestly, is this happening already?! YIKES!
Menu Suggestion: Some might accuse me of being a teensy bit bread-obsessed of late, but what good lasagna doesn’t call for a big thick slice of garlic bread? So what I might suggest is my Super Simple No Knead Bread slathered thickly with some garlic butter and top broiled in your handy cast iron pan. Oh Yes!
Wine Pairing: So just a quick side note, Greg and I were able to share a meal this past weekend at his place to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving with our family and he created THE MOST MARVELOUS roast beef. I mean honestly, this thing was like Brontosaurus sized and the taste was just a massive. I was sort of cooked and photographed out by Monday night as I had also hosted a dinner earlier in the weekend so sadly I did not capture any of it to share with you but trust me, he was in his usual excellent cheffing shape! And yes, I agree, it’s getting into some red wine season FINALLY!!
“This sounds yummy. Without meat but still with some fairly strong flavours, I feel like it wants a light-ish red. Given the origin of this dish, Chianti would be my choice. Nice ones combine light tannins (also getting to be red wine season for me…) with enough fruitiness and terroir to be the perfect compliment.”
Enjoy & Namaste!
- Oven ready lasagna noodles (although honestly I've used not oven ready and just pour a little boiling water over them for a couple of minutes before using and it's just as good)
- 2 small or 1 large eggplant, skin on, thinly sliced
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 15-20 medium brown mushrooms, sliced (white are fine, in fact whatever kind of mushroom you prefer is fine... just mushrooms and lots of them!)
- 1 28 oz tin GOOD QUALITY tomatoes
- ½ tsp (or more to taste) chilli pepper flakes
- S&P to taste
- 2½ cups ricotta cheese
- 1 egg
- 1 head fresh spinach, washed, drained and rough chopped
- S&P to taste
- Mozzarella, grated about 3 cups
- Parmigiana cheese, freshly grated to top before baking
- S&P and more chilli pepper flakes to taste to top before baking
- Lightly salt both sides of thinly sliced eggplant and place in collander or on paper towels to sweat, pat dry before use. This purges the eggplant of excess liquid which can often include bitterness.
- Heat a drizzle of oil in a frying pan.
- Add onions, cook stirring often until just starting to become translucent.
- Add garlic, stir constantly being careful not to allow to brown
- Add mushrooms and cook until their liquid is released and they are beginning to brown
- Add tomatoes and season with S&P and chilli pepper flakes to taste, allow to cook over medium low heat for about an hour, stirring occasionally.
- Mix ricotta with egg and spinach and season with S&P to taste.
- Starting with pasta build layers of pasta, sauce, eggplant, ricotta mixture and mozzarella until all ingredients are used up.
- Top with freshly grated parmigiana and more S&P and chilli pepper flakes if desired.
- Cover tightly with tinfoil and bake at 375° for about 40 mins. Remove tinfoil and continue cooking for another 10-15 mins until top is browned and bubbling. Allow to sit for at least 10 minutes before cutting.