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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Noodleless and Vegetarian LASAGNA!!!

If you're Italian then you may need to cover your eyes and hit the back button quick!!....OK, now that the Italians are gone it's safe to unveil what I will call lasagna, even though the word lasagna is a big-time understatement for what I am about to share.  I realized that some reading this blog may actually be trying to make these dishes, and that it is really annoying when I list ingredients right in the paragraph as I usually do, so from now on I will list them...sorry about that.  For this you will need the following scrumptious ingredients:
2 large potatoes
3 large carrots
1 large white onion
1 1/2 cups mushrooms (I used canned organic)
1 can plain artichoke hearts
1 or 2 packs frozen leaf spinach
1 large container crushed tomatoes (Pomi makes them in a box instead of a can, but they only come in smaller containers so if you go this route you will need about 3 boxes.  Also, the amount of sauce you use can vary depending on how much sauce you like in your lasagna.)
1 whole head of garlic
3 cloves of garlic separate from head of garlic
Mozzarella cheese
Cheddar cheese
Feta cheese
1 large container cottage cheese
Fresh Italian herbs (oregano, thyme etc.)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (first cold press)
salt and pepper
Having a block of Parmesan on hand wouldn't hurt

Are you still awake?  I know, that was a huge list, but a lot of these things may already be on hand if you cook on a regular basis.  If many of these items aren't already on hand, it's no problem because most of them are pretty cheap.  Just remember that buying fresh produce does not mean more "nutritious" and that frozen items may still have more intact nutrients than some of the "fresh" stuff because the frozen was more than likely frozen directly after harvest whereas the "fresh" stuff in your produce section has been travelling from California, or another country and most of the available nutrients have been oxidized, not to mention the fact that many of them have been sprayed by who knows what during the trip in order to preserve the cosmetic quality of the produce.  I would go on, but the main point here is to not get fooled by "fresh produce" because truly farm fresh items, that should be our first choice for produce, is rarely sold at our supermarkets.  Let's move on.

I will make this quick -Do not forget to do this first - heat the oven now to 350 and slice just the very top off of the head of garlic.  Pour some olive oil in to the top of the garlic head until the head is full, wrap in tin foil and put it in the oven for about an hour or the time it takes you to do everything else in this recipe. Finely chop the carrots, and onions, and 3 cloves garlic and saute them in the EVOO until soft.  While this is going pour your tomato sauce in a saucepan and add some salt, pepper, and about 2 tablespoons of Italian herbs and keep on medium heat stirring occasionally.  Peel the potatoes and slice them cross ways (so you are left with something resembling chips) about 1/4" thick.  Put those in a pot, cover with water and boil them until almost soft, but with a little crisp left.  OK, give your big fat lasagna pan a little pep talk about what is fixing to happen and then proceed to the following:

Lather the bottom of the pan with a smidge of your Italian tomato sauce (you are going to use the sauce three more times so make sure and conserve it throughout this process)
Mix in about half of your cottage cheese in a  fine layer over the sauce
Ring the water from the spinach and layer it on top of the cottage cheese
Randomly crumble feta cheese on top of spinach
Grate a little mozzarella on top of this
It is a good idea to lightly salt the top at this point
Now for the kicker, layer half the potatoes on top of this first layer series
Now layer more sauce and the rest of your cottage cheese
Layer the sauteed carrots and onions and garlic on top of this
Layer the artichoke hearts and 2/3 of the mushrooms on top of the sauteed carrots and onions
Crumble more feta and grate more mozzarella on now
lightly salt
Use the rest of the taters to make another layer on top of this second layer series
OK, at this point, take the garlic out of the oven.  It's hot, but carefully squeeze the garlic out of its skin in to the remaining tomato sauce.  Mix in well with the sauce to make an Italian roasted garlic tomato sauce, and layer it on the top of your potatoes.
Grate mozzarella and cheddar with long strokes (so the cheese doesn't dry out and burn) to cover the sauce.  Lay the remainder of mushrooms all over the top of the cheese and if you have it, grate some fresh Parmesan on top of this.
Bake on 300 degrees until the cheese is all melted and bubbly, and then crank it up to 450 for just a few minutes to brown it a little.  All in all you should only have to bake this for 20-25 minutes.  Take it out, let it cool a little and serve some up, but remember, it is about twice as good the next day.  I know this is a lot to do, but it is worth it.  Gluten free, vegetarian, and minimally processed food.  Remember that when you go shopping for all of these ingredients, whatever brand you buy, you should be looking for 5 or less ingredients, but on most of the stuff here you should really shoot for 3 or less.  So do you want to see it?  By this point, if you're even still reading you are probably thinking that in order to tackle this you are going to need some real it is, Enjoy!!

Also, here is a pic of some goodies Mandy and I picked up at Whole Foods on our way to see Harry Potter last night.  Mung beans, red lentils, french green lentils, and California brown basmati rice!!! Wooohooo!!  I encourage everyone to check out the nutritional data for this stuff through this link .  This site is really cool and can really enlighten you as to the value of what you are eating.  Please check it out!!

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