Friday, November 5, 2010

For my vegetarian friends

To my Italian food loving vegetarian friends,
Have I got a recipe for you. As a once a week pasta type of girl, I've been wanting to branch out and try different Italian recipes that don't include the repetitive gesture of boiling angel hair and adding Barilla sauce. I've finally ventured out and made lasagna. It's not just any kind of lasagna though, it's butternut squash lasagna. Since it's squash season, there is plenty of butternut squash in the stores and farmers markets and recipes to go with that. Daniel forwarded a recipe from his company Health and Fitness newsletter that uses butternut squash instead of meat in a lasagna dish. Not only is it meat free, it's also healthy! Yay!

Another inspiration for making this recipe came from the book "Alone in the kitchen with an eggplant" that I'm currently reading. As I mentioned earlier last month, I want to read more books about other people's adventures in cooking. This book is actually composed of many short essays from people just like you and me. They are people who work, who go to school, who are married or who are single. They write about how they cook for themselves and try their best to cook for themselves when their significant other is gone or they don't have the company of their friends. Sounds strange that an entire book could have essays relative to cooking for yourself but as I was reading it, I said to myself "I can totally relate." When you're home alone, do you really put the effort into cooking a a nice meal for yourself or do you pull out the canned goods and PB & J? I put the effort into cooking only if I'm entertaining someone other than myself - I definitely fall into the category of keeping it simple when I'm alone (I've had countless quesadillas/grilled cheese sandwiches/ham and cheese sandwiches alone). Sad sad sad. After reading a few of these essays, I was motivated to cook something nice for myself for once. I was going to put something together that would take time, not just 30 seconds of microwaving. Alas, this is the reason why the lasagna recipe is on my blog. Ta-da!

Ingredients (enough to make 2 lasagnas with 6 servings each - I ended up making only one lasagna though so cut this in half if you want that):
- Cooking spray
- 3 cups chopped onions (I would use a quarter less because it's a little too onion like)
- 10 cups fresh spinach
- 3/4 cup shredded sharp provolone cheese (I used jack)
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (I omitted this)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 eggs
- 1 (15 ounce) carton fat-free ricotta cheese
- 3 cups diced and peeled butternut squash (Trader Joes has it already prepared)
- 6 cups marinara sauce
- 12 oven-ready lasagna noodles
- 1 cup fresh Parmesan cheese grated (the smell is so intense)

- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Heat a large pot on medium-high heat with some cooking spray. Add the onions. Saute until it is tender.
- Add spinach, saute until the spinach wilts. Turn the heat off and set the pot aside.
- Combine provolone, parsley (omitted), salt, pepper, eggs and ricotta cheese in a large bowl.
- Place squash in a microwave safe bowl. Cover and cook on high for 5 minute or until tender with a fork.
- Coat the bottom and sides of an 8 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Spread 1/2 cup of marinara sauce in the bottom of one prepared dish. You are going to start layering ingredients on top of each other.
-Arrange two noodles over sauce (if you cut the recipe in half, adjust the noodles accordingly).
- Spread one cup of the cheese mixture over the noodles.
- Arrange 1 1/2 cups squash over the cheese mixture.
- Spread 3/4 marinara sauce over the squash.
- Arrange 2 noodles over the sauce.
- Arrange 1 cup cheese mixture over the noodles.
- Arrange 1 1/2 cups of the onion/spinach mixture over cheese mixture.
- Spread 3/4 cup of marinara over the spinach mixture.
- Add 2 noodles over the sauce.
- Spread 1 cup sauce evenly over noodles (if you see too much sauce, you might want to cut back).
- Sprinkle the top with parmesan cheese. Begin the same process for the second dish.
- Cover the pan with foil.
(You will notice that there might be more ingredients left on the side than in the dish. You can eyeball it and try to add more ingredients and layer any way you want. The directions are just providing some guidelines.)

- Bake for 30 minutes covered and then 30 minutes uncovered. 60 minutes total.

Enjoy!!! Sorry no final product photos because I ate it. LOL. :D

To come -
Slow cooker recipes (I got a slow cooker - one of the coolest birthday presents ever! Thanks Fran!)
Thanksgiving side dishes - I'm actually going to make them from scratch as I only have to feed 5 people :)