Saturday, February 1, 2014

New Years Resolution Veggie Lasagna

Do you still have a few of those holiday pounds lingering around your hips?  Are your jeans just slightly tighter than you remember before the holidays?  Please say 'yes' because I want to know that I am not alone.  Throughout my journey of weight loss and healthy living, I have found that although exercising is very important, changing your diet is the key to slimming down.  Knowing your portion sizes and sticking to them is huge!  In this super sized world we live it, the portion size we are supposed to be eating versus what is on our plate is completely different.  One of the things that I have learned about myself is that I like to see a full plate of food.  If I choose a smaller plate over a larger plate, I am less likely to overeat because I have fooled my mind into thinking it ate more than it did.  Another thing I do to trick my brain is to trade out vegetables for meat.  That is exactly what I did in my recipe today.  Instead of using ground beef with 15% fat to 85% meat ratio, I used mushrooms, zucchini, and summer squash.  I used my homemade ricotta to satisfy my comfort food cravings, and I used less than half of the recommended lasagna noodles.  It is all about smart choices and eating things you love.  This is my:

Vegetable Lasagna

Mmmmm...  Look at all that melty cheese and gorgeous colors!  It looks like lasagna.  It smells like lasagna.  It is lasagna!!

These are all my ingredients, minus the ricotta cheese.  Look at all of those veggies!!  I used 2 cans of peeled, crushed tomatoes, 1 summer squash, 2 zucchini, 1 medium eggplant, 2 portobello mushroom caps, 1 garlic clove, lasagna noodles, and various dried italian spices.
My sweet  hubby likes the taste of eggplant, but does not like the way it looks when it is cooked.  Whenever I make it, I have to hide it.  My favorite way of using it is pureed in a homemade tomato sauce.  First, preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Cut your eggplant in half, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast it for about 30 minutes until tender.
While your eggplant is roasting, you can prep and grill your vegetables for your lasagna.  One thing I did not take pictures of is cooking the pasta.  Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook 4 lasagna noodles according the package's directions.  Take your portobello caps and scrape out the gills with a spoon.

Cut your zucchini in strips lengthwise

Do the same with your summer squash.  Drizzle all of your veggies with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Grill your vegetables over medium heat until tender but still has some bite to it.  It will continue to cook in the oven while you bake the lasagna.
I think our eggplant is done.  Lets make our homemade tomato sauce.  I find the eggplant skin to be bitter, so I scoop out the insides and discard the skin.

Cut your garlic clove to make it easier for you blender to cut up.

Add the two cans of crushed tomatoes, garlic clove, pinch of salt and pepper, and 1-2 TBSP of dried italian seasoning to your blender.

Add the eggplant and blend it until thick and creamy

Your sauce will take on some body with the addition of the eggplant and will look something like this

Remember our ricotta??  Now's the time to whip that bad boy out!  For a refresher check out
Grate about one cup of parmesan cheese.  Parmesan cheese has one of the lowest amount of fat contents of any cheese and it is packed with calcium!

Add the parmesan to your ricotta and mix it up

Whew!! That has been a lot of prep without a lot of lasagna!  Lets pull the dish together.  Take a 9x13 baking dish.  Add 1/3 of your sauce to the bottom of the dish.

Layer your squash and zucchini

Place two lasagna noodles over your veggies

Add half of your ricotta parmesan mixture and spread it evenly

Put your portobello caps over the ricotta

Add another third of the tomato sauce and layer with the rest of your grilled squash followed by the last two lasagna noodles.

Top your noodles off with the rest of your ricotta

Pour the last third of your tomato sauce over the casserole dish and spread it out.

Top off your lasagna with 1/2-1 cup of grated parmesan cheese and drizzle with olive oil

I placed my lasagna on a baking sheet to avoid any spills.  Cover and bake your lasagna for 30 minutes in a 375 degree oven.  Uncover and broil until the cheese is brown and bubbly.

Remember what I said about portion sizes.  With all of these veggies, this lasagna makes six large portions.  A full plate is a pretty thing, but an empty plate with a satisfied stomach instead of a guilty one is a beautiful thing.
4 Lasagna noodles
2 zucchini squash
1 summer squash
2 portobello caps
1 medium eggplant
2 cups of ricotta cheese
1 garlic clove (quartered)
2 cans of crushed tomatoes
1-2 TBSP of dried italian seasoning
1 1/2 cups of parmesan cheese (divided)
salt and pepper
olive oil

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Cut your eggplant in half longways, drizzle it with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast on a baking sheet for 30 minutes.

Heat a grill pan to medium high heat.  Remove the gills from the underside of your portobello caps with a spoon.  Slice your zucchini and yellow squash longways.  Drizzle your vegetables with olive oil and sprinkle them with salt and pepper.  Grill your veggies until tender, about 5 minutes on each side.  Set vegetables aside.

Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Cook 4 lasagna noodles according to the package directions.  Drain and set aside.

Remove the eggplant from the oven and knock the temperature down to 375 degrees.  Scoop out the flesh of the eggplant and discard the skin.  In your blender or food processor, add the two cans of tomatoes, dried herbs, garlic clove, and flesh of the roasted eggplant.  Puree until smooth.

Add 1 cup of grated parmesan cheese to your ricotta.  Stir until mixed thoroughly.

In a 9x13 baking dish, add in this order: 1/3 tomato sauce, 1/2 of your grilled squash, 2 lasagna noodles, 1/2 of your ricotta, 2 portobello caps, 1/3 tomato sauce, 1/2 grilled squash, 2 lasagna noodles, 1/2 ricotta, and last 1/3 of tomato sauce. Sprinkle the top of your lasagna with the rest of your parmesan cheese and drizzle with olive oil.  Bake your lasagna in 375 degree oven for 30 minutes and broil at until the top is golden brown and bubbly.  Serves 6.

There you have it, friends, My New Years Vegetable Lasagna!  I wish for you to have many full plates and happy tummies.  Enjoy!

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