Posted by: Andi Angel | June 14, 2012

Simple, Quickish Vegetarian Lasagne


(See the bottom of the post for how to veganize this recipe.)

So I might as well start by telling you what I mean by quickish. I recently came across a recipe in one of my cookbooks which had the word “Fast” in the title – might have been Weight Watchers’ “Fast and Fabulous” – but the recipe, some kind of casserole, maybe even lasagne, took 20-30 minutes of active prep and an hour and 10 minutes to bake in the oven. Then it was supposed to sit for 5 or 10 minutes. No kidding? I have to start making it a good two hours ahead of when I actually want to eat, and you’ve included this in a “Quick Recipes” cook book.

Do you have time to deal with that sort of nonsense? I don’t. I’ve had chances in the past to putz around in the kitchen most of a day, but now that baby makes five, it ain’t happening like that anymore. 🙂

Most of my stuff these days comes out edible or better, but I still kinda consider myself a non-cook, maybe because I don’t have a whole lot of recipes memorized. I do a lot of improv to accommodate ingredients on hand, which means a lot of my dishes are sort of first-time experiments. This, coupled with my ADD, makes everything go a lot slower, so it takes me a lot longer to actually cook something that most people can breeze through in a snap.

Even when I do have a recipe, I often have to allow myself double the time it says it’s supposed to take, on account of my ADD… so the recipes I choose need to be simpler and quicker, or I end up not having time for other important things.

But, I still love me some home cookin’, so what happens is I look for simplicity and short-cuts, and for recipes with flexible ingredient ratios and easy-to-remember ingredient patterns. And I NEVER attempt any recipe that claims more than 30 minutes of active prep time.

The lasagne recipe I started with looked simple enough, but I found the first couple of attempts took me an hour or two of active time while trying to work with what I had on hand. Once I got the hang of it, subbed in some no-boil noodles, and adjusted some ingredient ratios a bit, I could assemble the pan in 20 minutes, including chopping olives by hand (because they’re way cheaper than the cans of pre-chopped).

Which means that YOU could probably slap this out in 10 minutes flat, including the time it takes to gather ingredients. If it takes the full 35 minutes to bake and a full 15 minutes to stand before serving, you can score yourself some homemade lasagne in an hour from start to finish, with only 10 minutes of that being active prep.

And without further ado –                                                                                                            ……….

1. Soak in water: 6 no-boil lasagne noodles (3 x 6 in.)

2. In medium bowl, beat: 2 eggs,

add 1 1/4 Cup ricotta cheese,

3 Tbsp. minced onion or  green onion,

2 tsp. dried parsley,

1/2 tsp. garlic salt or sea salt.

3. Preheat oven to 350 F and get handy some grated mozzarella (10-12 oz.) and 1/2-3/4 Cup parmesan. Pop open a 24-25 oz. jar of spaghetti sauce, and a can or two of chopped olives or mushrooms (optional).

4. In a 9″ x 13″ pan, smear a spoonful of sauce and place 3 lasagne noodles on top. Add a layer of half the ricotta mixture, about 4 oz. mozzarella, and 1/4 Cup of parmesan. Use half the remaining sauce for the next layer, then sprinkle on your olives or mushrooms to taste.

5. Repeat the sequence:  remaining noodles, remaining ricotta, 4 oz. mozzarella, 1/4 Cup parm, remaining sauce, and remaining olives or mushrooms.

6. Top with remaining 2-4 oz. mozzarella, and a few shakes of any more parmesan you might have, or a handful of shredded cheddar.

7. Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until cheese is golden brown.

8. Allow to stand and firm up for 10-15 minutes before serving.                                 ……….

Bonus time-saving tip:  If you want olives or mushrooms (or bell peppers, sun-dried tomatoes or other veg) without the extra step of adding them on top of the sauce, look for a spaghetti sauce that already has those veggies in it.

Other veggie options to add on top of the sauce:

* Roasted bell peppers

* Sun-dried tomatoes

* Shredded carrots

* Spinach

* Squash, sliced in coins then quartered

* Veggie “beef substitute” crumbles, “sausage-less sausage”, or veggie “pepperoni”

Fair warning:  I haven’t tried any of these yet, so if you don’t saute your bonus veg first, it might add to the cooking time. The good news is that I adapted this recipe from one that was using a 7″ x 11″ pan, so there should be plenty of room for two generous layers of veg if you want to really kick up the health and flavor factors of this dish.

Veganize it:  Use tofu in place of the ricotta, and vegan mozzarella and parmesan.

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