Mix up din­ner with Re­becca’s veg­etable lasagna

Cecil Whig - - JUMPSTART - By Re Becca Bent

Lasagna is an easy dish that should be packed with your fa­vorite in­gre­di­ents — check out your lo­cal farmer’s mar­kets and see what veg­gies they have.

I’ve found it to work well with zuc­chini, squash, egg­plant, car­rots, brus­sel sprouts, sweet onions and even beets. Of course, it also works well with ground beef, tur­key, chicken, lob­ster and shrimp.

The se­cret here is to roast the veg­gies be­fore­hand so they have tex­ture and re­lease some of their juices, other­wise they’ll make the lasagna a bit soggy. If you like this idea of tex­ture on your veg­gies, you could sprin­kle them with a pinch of sugar or finely grated parme­san cheese dur­ing the last five min­utes of the roast­ing process. (Just stay right there by the oven if you do that, to avoid burn­ing.)

And if you want to make this dish even more tasty, in­stead of hav­ing the top layer be the lasagna pasta cov­ered in cheese, switch it out for fresh cubed bread cov­ered in cheese.

That’s right: Pasta, bread and cheese to- gether. Can you think of a bet­ter combo? Sim­ple Roasted Veg­etable Lasagna

Makes 6 hearty serv­ings 8 large zuc­chi­nis, ends re­moved and cubed into bite size pieces

2 ta­ble­spoon 100% olive oil (you’ll want this to be a qual­ity brand) 1/2 lb. lasagna noo­dles 1 ta­ble­spoon of salt for the pasta wa­ter 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese (you may want more if you like it creamy, but don’t get car­ried away)

5 heap­ing cups shred­ded moz­zarella cheese (you hon­estly might need more de­pend­ing how much you like cheese); leave 3/4 cup for the top­ping

1 car­rot, washed, end re­moved and cut into 1-inch match­sticks (you can put in more if you like car­rots) 4 ounces store-bought pesto 1. Place the oven rack on the mid­dle shelf of the oven and heat the oven to 350 de­grees for at least 20 min­utes. Place the zuc­chini on a sheet pan and driz­zle it with the olive oil. Bake un­til ten­der, or about 20 min­utes. You will have to mix up the zuc­chini about half­way through to en­sure all the sides are cook­ing evenly. Re­move it from the oven when it is done and let it rest.

2. When the zuc­chini is half­way done roast­ing, fill a large pasta pot with cold wa­ter (about half-full) and place it over high heat. When the wa­ter comes to a boil, add the la- sagna noo­dles, push­ing it un­der the wa­ter as it soft­ens. Stir the pasta to en­sure it does not stick, and fol­low the pack­ag­ing in­struc­tions for cook­ing time. The in­struc­tions should sug­gest about 10 min­utes boil­ing time. When the pasta is fin­ished cook­ing, drain it well and set aside.

3. Mean­while, com­bine the ricotta and moz­zarella cheese in a large bowl and stir un­til well-blended and a paste is formed. (Don’t for­get to leave some shred­ded cheese for the top.)

4. When the in­gre­di­ents are done, be­gin assem­bly. Start with a 9-inch casse­role dish. Ar­range the in­gre­di­ents in the fol­low­ing or­der: olive oil driz­zled on the bot­tom of the pan, lasagna pasta, zuc­chini, car­rot match­sticks and ricotta mix­ture. The top layer should be pasta and a heavy sprin­kling of moz­zarella cheese.

5. Bake the lasagna for 20 min­utes. Dur­ing the cook­ing process, if the top be­gins to brown too much, cover it with foil to avoid any burn­ing. Re­move the lasagna from the oven and let it sit for a few min­utes be­fore serv­ing. It’s go­ing to be messy com­ing out, just do your best.

6. While it is cool­ing, pre­pare the pesto by mix­ing it with a few ta­ble­spoons of good olive oil to di­lute it. Driz­zle over the plated dish.

Cook­ing at Home is a weekly col­umn that al­ter­nates be­tween Re­becca Bent and Chad Stringfel­low. They dish on what they’ve been mak­ing.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF RE­BECCA BENT

Bent says: “This photo was taken in the restau­rant La Zucca in Venice, Italy. I’ve writ­ten about them be­fore — I just love them.”

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