April 20, 2009

Vegetable Lasagna

For my first real cooking experience in my new apartment (not counting last night's BLTs) I made a vegetarian lasagna.  It was a wonderful end to my second to last day of my second to last year of law school.  It was especially enjoyable on a very windy and very cold Minnesota night, but it would have also been enjoyable on a calm, warm Minnesota night that was the norm all last week.  

The basic ingredients:

Lasagna noodles
1 box frozen spinach
1 large can diced or crushed tomatoes
1 tomato
2 zucchini 
1/2 bunch asparagus
Goat cheese (optional)

Boil the lasagna according to the package directions.  I boiled 9 noodles, but I ended up only needing about 6 because of the size of my baking dish.

Boiling bubbles!  OOOOoooOOOOooooOOOoooo

Don't 13-year-olds type things like that?  And my dad.  He's really into texting things like "lol" and "omg."  Then I forward them on to my brothers so they can enjoy his musings as well.  

Cook the noodles until they're pliable, but not totally done.  

I didn't put amounts down on the ingredients list, but here's how much mozzarella I used.  It was about half of one of those cylindrical hunks, if that means anything to you.  It was plenty.  

I had most of a can of diced tomatoes in the freezer from God knows when.  I thawed them out, added a roughly chopped clove of garlic, a couple teaspoons of thyme, and a couple teaspoons of oregano.  It all simmered while I threw everything else together. 

Thaw a box of frozen spinach and squeeze out the excess moisture.  Combine the spinach with a container of ricotta, a tablespoon of thyme, and a tablespoon of oregano.  

Give it a good stir, and set it aside until the assembly begins.

Slice the zucchini into fairly thin slices.

Chop the asparagus into about 1" pieces.

Thinly slice a tomato.  Or thinly slice half of it and somehow end up with considerably thicker slices with the other half like I did.  I would blame it on that glass of wine, but seeing as it's nearly full I don't think that defense works.  

Spoon a small amount of tomato sauce into a casserole dish, and spread it around to coat the bottom.

Place a layer of noodles over the tomato sauce.

Cover the noodles with about 1/3 of the ricotta/spinach mixture.

Pile on some zucchini and asparagus. 

Then add some tomato slices and a little bit of the tomato sauce.  

Sprinkle with a little mozzarella.  

Repeat the layers beginning with noodles and ending with noodles.  I managed to fit 2 complete layers in my dish, and I had a little bit of asparagus remaining.  

Spread the remaining ricotta mixture on top.  

Top with the rest of the tomato sauce and mozzarella.  I also sprinkled on a bit of goat cheese for a little tang.  Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.   

As much as I love mass quantities of cheese, sometimes I need to hold myself back.  Instead of making cheesy, garlicky bread I made some goat cheesy, tomato-y bread.  Thinly slice crusty bread and spread on a thin layer of goat cheese.  

Top with a slice or two of tomato and a sprinkle of oregano, and throw it in the oven while the lasagna bakes.  

Slightly cheesy and majorly delicious.  That should be my life's motto.  

I ended up taking the lasagna out a little earlier than I needed to because we were getting a little impatient.  It could have stayed in there for another 5 to 10 minutes until it was a little more browned, but it was totally fine at this point, too.  

At last, the first dinner in my new apartment.  

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