It’s that time of year where I find myself swamped with work and putting on an extravagant amount of layers on my body to prevent that first frost-on-the-ground-when-you-wake-up chill. I don’t think there is any time of year where I wear so much wool, and oh, part of me smiles as I remember how snug and comfortable thick wool sweaters are. Late autumn, you and your brisk winds and falling leaves are perfect (so don’t ever change!)
This time of year also makes me crave large, steaming hot pasta dishes that happened to be baked with plenty of cheesy-goodness. As I sat in my kitchen Thursday night, I couldn’t help but smile at the thought of having a Friday evening free to make this wonderful craving a reality. I love red wine, homemade marina sauce and GARLIC! Garlic is the key ingredient to any dish I happen to make. My roommates always give me large encouraging smiles as they watch my cooking adventures, but I know that apres dinner chat will include ‘jokes’ about how our house smells like a bulb of garlic. To which I always wonder how great it would be to live in a house shaped and completely stocked with garlic bulbs..it would be wonderful!
As I looked in the fridge, I saw that I had kale and some mushrooms and spinach. Dreaming of wine and pasta, I decided to fulfill my dream (aha yes I know it’s a small and easy dream..)to make a homemade lasagna. I made it in a small pan simply because I wanted it to be a thick and well-layered lasagna (it had four layers!) but you can make this recipe in a regular square lasagna pan with 2 to 3 layers and it will turn out just as delicious, I promise. I always experiment by looking at a few recipes and using past cooking experiences when making a dish. This is a recipe mix that turned out perfect, though you can add a few more veggies or cheese to each layer as desired! You can never go wrong with lasagna.
12 Lasagna noodles (to make 4 layers- adjust amount according to pan-size)
1 Tbs Olive Oil
1 large Spanish onion
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 red pepper
1 (28 oz) can plum tomatoes
1/2 can (6 oz) of tomato paste
2-3 Tbs of a mix of fresh Basil, Thyme and Oregano
Salt and Pepper
1/2 package fresh Spinach
1/2 large Purple Eggplant
1/2 bunch Kale
6 Mushrooms (any kind you prefer)
1 cup cottage cheese
1 cup of shredded Mozzarella
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Heat the Oven to 350 and smudge some olive oil along your lasagna pan. Begin to boil a large pot of water and add just a pinch of salt. When you begin to notice the water boil at any time while you are cooking, at the noodles and cook them. When done, take them out and lay them on a sheet or plate to keep them flat and keep them from sticking to one another.
In a frying pan, add Olive oil, 3 garlic cloves, onions and red pepper. Let simmer and stir until soft and the garlic is well roasted. While this is simmering, take the can of plum tomatoes and pour the whole can into a food processor and blend. Add the blended tomatoes into the saucepan along with the tomato paste, salt & pepper, Basil, Thyme and Oregano mixture. Reduce heat to about 4 and let simmer as you continue to prepare the rest.
Boil about a cup of water and add in the Kale and spinach for 4 minutes. Meanwhile, get out another pan and begin to saute the zucchini, mushrooms and eggplant. When the kale and spinach are done, drain them and add them to the sauteing zucchini mixture. Add 1 clove of garlic and let simmer.
In small bowl, mix the cottage cheese, parmesan cheese and egg. Add to the zucchini mixture when it is done and let simmer for a minute or two.
In your lasagna pan, make your first layer of noodles. On top, add the marina sauce. Put on another layer of noodles and then spread out the zucchini and cottage cheese mixture. Add another layer of noodles and on top spread out both the marina sauce and the zucchini mixture. Put some mozzarella on top. Add Another layer of noodles and spread both the marina and rest of the zucchini mixture. Add a last layer of noodles and put the rest of the mozzarella and add some more grated parmesan on top.
Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes. Sit down, put on some jazz music and sip wine and eat “leftover” cheese for 40 minutes.
This lasagna was truly the most fun to make and so gooey and delicious. I felt the warmth from a perfectly baked pasta and glass of wine..and the roommates loved it (or so they told me..) I hope this recipe keeps you warm!