If you have followed this site or read many of my posts and recipes for long, you know I am not a vegetarian. However, I do love vegetables and eat tons of them. I can't even think of a vegetable I don't like. Well, maybe brussel sprouts which I am not crazy about, but my sister showed me a way to cook them that made me actually like them.
I did try to give up eating meat once, for some reason that I cannot now imagine, and it was not pretty. By the end of a week, I was meaner than a junkyard dog. Everyone around me, who had to put up with me, begged me to just eat a pork chop! I was just not designed to be an herbivore. Bunny rabbits are cute, but it isn't me!
I do get requests for vegetarian dishes quite a bit, but I also get requests for low fat and sugar free ones and when I post them, no one pays much attention to them. I always wondered why there weren't more food blogs dedicated to vegetarian, vegan, fat free, sugar free, gluten free, light...now I know! Nobody reads them!
I do love this vegetable lasagna though and I promise you, you will not even miss the meat. I promise! I think Italian food can get away with not using meat easier than most, because of all of the flavor you put in it and of course, the cheese. This is a great recipe for summer when zucchini and yellow squash are so abundant. Here is what you will need for this:
9 lasagna noodles, cooked according to package directions
3 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium sweet onion, diced
1/2 cup green or red bell pepper, diced
1 Tbs. garlic, minced
2 cups zucchini, diced
2 cups yellow squash, diced
1 cup shredded carrot or cut in very small matchsticks
2 cups fresh mushrooms diced
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes with Italian seasonings
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 (6oz.) can tomato paste
1 cup water
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 Tbs. dried parsley
2 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. sugar
32 oz. carton of ricotta cheese
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
3 cups Mozzarella cheese, shredded and divided
In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil and add the onion and green or red pepper. Saute until just soft. Add the zucchini, yellow squash, garlic and carrots. I like to cut the zucchini and yellow squash in thin circles and then diced. I don't think they work as well if left in big hunks or huge slices. This should all cook down somewhat into sort of a vegetable ragout. Add the mushrooms right at the end, because the will cook fast and does not need to be cooked too much. You want the veggies soft but still with a little bite to them, not mushy.
Once all of the veggie are just soft, but still have some body to them, add the tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato paste. If the tomatoes are in big hunks, take your kitchen shears and cut them up some. I hate big hunks of tomato in my lasagna sauce. That's just me, if you like hunks, leave them in!
Add all of the seasonings, sugar and water to the sauce. Bring up just to a bubble and then lower heat to low, cover and simmer while you assemble the other ingredients.
Mix the ricotta with the beaten eggs until smooth. Add 3/4 of the Parmesan cheese, and 2 cups of the Mozzarella cheese and mix until well combined. This mixture should be fairly thick.
Spread a layer of the sauce in a deep 9"x13" baking dish that has been sprayed with nonstick spray.
Lay three of the lasagna noodles on top of the sauce. Dollop the cheese mixture over the noodles.
Continue to repeat the layers.
Finish with the sauce and the other 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese.
Finish the top with the last cup of Mozzarella and bake uncovered for about 40 minutes.
It will be bubbly around the edges!