In the spirit of Overshare Wednesday I’m not going to lie: today is awful. I’m trying to keep the house together while Anthony is gone, take excellent care of Isobel, and oh yeah, occasionally go to work and take care of myself, too. Last night Isobel woke up crying at least once an hour from midnight on. I’m pretty sure it’s just teething but today I started coming down with (another) cold and so I’m hoping she’s not sick, too. Because frankly, I already have as much as I think I can handle. (Oh, also, there’s all kinds of stupidity happening with coworkers, but that’s not something I’m at liberty to talk about.)
Anyway, bullshit aside, I have a wonderful post lined up for you today. I put out a call a few months ago for guest bloggers and Camilla signed up to be Miss January. I love her blog, Lead Paint Cookbook, because she’s hilarious and she writes about things I like: Food. Housekeeping. Crashing bridal shows and causing mayhem. If you’re interested in guest blogging or switching blogs for a day, email me! I’d love to have you.
Today my Miss January is going to teach everyone how to make a delicious lasagna, and I’m going to take some mucinex.
ANYONE CAN MAKE VEGETABLE LASAGNA
Hello there, I’m Camilla, aka Cookbook. I blog over at Lead Paint Cookbook about my (mis)adventures with home cooking and housekeeping. I’m delighted to be guest blogging on Little Big today. Thanks, Carrie!
A couple weekends ago, my dear friend M was in town, which meant a Saturday night sleepover at my place with his “hens,” which is his affectionate nickname for me and my pals K and Christine. I suppose we do spend a lot of time clucking over him, but trust me, you would too if you ever met Mark. He’s that adorable.
The plan was for everyone to gather at my place around dinnertime on Saturday night. I decided to make a lasagna, because it is a dish you can almost never go wrong with. It’s really my go-to thing for crowds. Minus a few gluten-free friends, I don’t really know anyone who doesn’t like lasagna at least a little bit.
Given that half the sleepover attendees were vegetarian, I looked at a lot of recipes online and settled on a hybrid spinach-eggplant dish. Honestly, I kind of prefer veggie lasagna over meat-based anyway. I have a bit of a predilection toward Stouffer’s veggie lasagna, the family-sized one. It is one of my darkest secrets. That stuff is good, though, and guess what? The Stouffer’s factory is only about 20 minutes away from my home in Cleveland and they have an outlet store where all the factory seconds go. Be just a little bit jealous.
We all know homemade is better, though. And besides its relative ability to please a crowd, another thing I really like about lasagna is that it’s pretty easy to throw together and it’s also very forgiving, which is great if you’re not a super-exacting cook. All you have to remember is layers, sauce, cheese, filling, bake. Boom.
Here’s the recipe I went with:
Cookbook’s Vegetable Lasagna
1 large eggplant, sliced and quartered
1 8 oz. container baby bella mushrooms, chopped
1 lb. spinach, minus the stems
1/2 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large jar pasta sauce (I used a plain marinara, but if chunky or white’s your thing, go with that)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
2 cups grated mozzerella
1 box cooked lasagna noodles
1 large container cottage cheese (yes, instead of ricotta)
dashes of oregano, basil, salt and pepper
Boil your lasagna noodles according to package instructions. When they are cooked al dente, remove from water. Lay them out on a cookie sheet to cool. To prevent stickage, spray with some cooking spray or brush lightly with olive oil.
Cut your eggplant in discs, then cut the discs in half. Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Oregano, too. Roast in oven at 425 for about 30 minutes.
This is pre-roast, obviously.
Meanwhile, prepare your other veggies. Have a friend help you, because cutting up veggies is a lot of work! If your friend finds a blade of grass mixed in with the spinach, allow him to pretend it’s a whistle:
Chop the onions and garlic and sautee in a bit of olive oil. This photo looks disgusting and I’m sure the folks at Cooks Illustrated would hang me for calling this my sautee, but it is what it is (and what it is is delicious):
Chop up the mushrooms too.
Add the mushrooms, onion-garlic sautee, and pasta sauce together in a pan and warm up. Season according to taste. Basil is always good. I recently found frozen fresh basil at Trader Joe’s which has kind of changed my life:
It’s frozen into individual 1 tsp portions. They also sell cilantro packaged the same way. THANK YOU ISRAEL.
While the sauce is simmering, mix the cottage cheese and eggs and about a cup and a half of the mozzarella. You can use ricotta if you want to, since that’s more authentic and everything. Ricotta weirds me out on some inexplicable level, so I stick with the dumbed-down American cottage cheese.
Then assemble everything. Coat the bottom of the pan with a bit of the sauce, then a layer of noodles topped with eggplant, topped with cheese, topped with sauce, then a layer of pasta going in the opposite direction, etc. In a typical pan you’ll end up with three layers of noodles.
Top it off with a very thin layer of sauce (to prevent the top layer of noodles from drying out) and cheese.
Bake for 45 minutes at 350, or until the cheese is nicely browned on top and sorta bubbly.
Then eat. Serve with a nice salad. Enjoy!