I Love Lasagna and Happy Mother’s Day!

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This meal is in honor of Mother’s Day! Last summer my mom and I took a vacation to Disneyworld. It was the first time either of us had ever been and it was so much fun! We stayed at the Movie All-Stars resort and we were able to go to Epcot, Magical Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios. Truly an amazing trip and it was so great to get to hang out just my mom and I. One night we made dinner reservations for Tony’s Town Square in the Magic Kingdom. We both ordered the vegetable lasagna and it was actually pretty darn good. Of course the portion sizes were huge so we wound up wishing we just would have shared (but then I wouldn’t have been able to eat ALL of the cheesy top so maybe it was better that way). Since that time I have had vegetable lasagna on my to-try list.

Part of the trouble with lasagna is that it makes a ton. It was just me eating the lasagna last night so I didn’t want to make a 9×13 pan. I initially planned on using a small Le Crueset baker that I have but after pulling it out I thought the sides weren’t tall enough. I wanted to have lots of room for cheesy goodness in my lasagna. I looked around the rest of my bakeware and finally I decided that my 9×5 bread pan was best suited for the small lasagna job. It worked out perfectly! I think as is this recipe would serve 3 people perfectly, or in my case dinner and leftovers for 2 lunches.

This lasagna was DELICIOUS! The bechamel sauce added a rich flavor that went so well with the tangy tomatoes. I used zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, onion, mushrooms, and spinach, but this recipe is so adaptable you could really use any of your favorite vegetables. Eggplant and bell peppers would make an excellent addition. Play around and see what combination you like best!


Bread Pan Vegetable Lasagna

Vegetable filling –
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 zucchini, sliced
1/2 yellow squash, sliced
1/2 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced
4 baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1 (14 oz) can whole peeled tomatoes in juice
1/2 tsp dry basil
1/2 tsp dry oregano
pinch of rosemary
pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp kosher salt
fresh ground pepper to taste

Ricotta filling-
8 ounces (1 cup) ricotta cheese
1/3 cup frozen spinach, thawed and excess liquid squeezed out
1/3 cup shredded italian cheese blend (or a mix of mozzarella and parmesan)
1 egg, lightly beaten
3-4 large fresh basil leaves (cut in a Chiffonade)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Bechamel sauce- (adapted from Mario Betali)
2 tbsp butter
1 1/2 tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/4 tsp salt
pinch of nutmeg

1 1/3 cups shredded Italian cheese blend
6 no-boil lasagna noodles

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large skillet, over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the zucchini, squash, onion, mushrooms and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes or until the onions start to turn translucent. Add the seasonings and can of whole tomatoes. Use a wooden spoon to break apart the whole tomatoes. Reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer while you make the bechamel sauce.

In a small saucepan, over medium-low heat, melt the butter. While the butter is melting heat the milk in the microwave for 1 minute and 30 seconds. When the butter is melted, slowly add the flour whisking constantly. After 4 minutes, when the butter is a light golden color, slowly add the hot milk whisking constantly. Increase the heat to medium and bring the mixture to a boil, whisking often. Cook for 10 minutes then remove from the heat and add the salt and nutmeg. (during this time I made the ricotta mixture, remembering to whisk often) Then remove from heat and set aside until ready to assemble the lasagna.

In a small bowl combine the ricotta, Italian cheese, spinach, egg, basil, salt and pepper.

Pour a small amount of bechamel sauce into the bottom of a 9×5 bread pan. Lay one whole lasagna noodle and break a piece off of another to fill the pan (about 1/3 of another noodle). Continue to layer the ingredients in the following order:

1. Noodle
2. 1/3 of the Ricotta cheese mixture
3. 1/3 of the Vegetable mixture
4. 1/3 cup Shredded cheese
5. 1/3 cup Bechamel sauce

After the 3rd group of layers, top off the lasagna with another noodle, the last of the Bechamel sauce and the last 1/3 cup of shredded cheese.

Cover the bread pan with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes. (I also gave mine 2 minutes under the broiler to make the cheese a deeper golden brown)


So You Grew a Garden…Now What? 1

** This post was imported as a part of my top 30 from my old blog – What’s Cooking in the Orange Kitchen**

For a month now I have been patiently waiting to find a ripe vegetable in my garden that is ready to pick. Finally, when I went to water the garden yesterday, I saw a cucumber through the big beautiful green leaves. When I went to pick it I was even more excited to find that there was another one just a few inches away! Every year I am always amazed at how quickly a vegetable will grow. One day you’ll see a little cucumber that’s a measly 2 inches and then the next day, BAM, it’s a full grown cucumber and that’s exactly what happened! We planted several different kinds of cucumbers and the 2 that were ready yesterday were an English style, so they were long and skinny. (We also planted a pickling variety so you can except a pickle recipe in the series!)

It really was perfect that a cucumber was the first vegetable that was ready because over the weekend I thought of a recipe idea and it has been on my mind ever since. This recipe would also be great with fresh garden tomatoes but mine are still all green, so I bought one from the store. Hopefully it will be my last store bought tomato of the summer!

So You Grew a Garden… Now What? – Recipe #1
Cucumber and Tomato Salad

Salad Ingredients

1 cucumber, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
1 tomato, cut into bite size pieces
1/4-1/2 small red onion, cut into 1 inch strips
2 tbsp crumbled feta cheese

Dressing ingredients

3 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp dry oregano
salt and pepper to taste
juice of half of a lemon

Directions

Whisk together all of the dressing ingredients. Pour the dressing* over the chopped vegetables and feta cheese, refrigerate for several hours. I dressed the vegetables in a Tupperware so that I could occasionally give it a shake and redistribute the dressing.

* I recommend pouring just half of the dressing on at first and tossing with the vegetables. Then if it needs more you can add more. Depending on the size of your vegetables you may need all or less of the dressing.