Monday, January 21, 2008

Presto Pasta Nights: And They Ate the Whole Thing...

Hey, there! I'm back from school with a foodie day to share with you! Today is Cheese Day, which is a ridiculous and unrequired excuse to celebrate all things cheesy, from the mild and creamy, unassuming Brie to the repungent, gag-inducing Limburger! Though I cannot eat cheese now, I can still remember the days of playing with mozzarella Cheesestrings, gooey quattro-formaggio pizza, goat cheese stuffed meatloaves and of course, cheesecake!

Of course, one thing that simply couldn't be without the gooey stuff is baked pasta. Any form of traditionally baked noodle dish is laden with the stuff, and like all things is glorious in moderation. My latest make – ahead freezer dish for my mom during the busy weeks was just that... ooey, gooey, vegetarian lasagne. Interesting that I specify vegetarian lasagne in this case, if you have followed my random whiny posts about my carniverous stepfamily. I didn't simply omit the meat and double up on the cheese, because then not only would the sodium and fat levels fly off the charts but they would probably opt for some chicken nuggets on the side. Their questionable eating habits do not ever deter me from slipping them some healthy stuff on occasion, but most often it's worse than trying to feed preschoolers spinach.

So, with the family safely out of the house, I turned to one of my good old friends in the pantry, Textured Vegetable Protein. Though I've mentioned it's merits before of course, being high-fibre, cholesterol free and low in fat, it was probably the best substitution in this case because it picks up on all the surrounding flavours in the dish, and, well, looks like ground beef. This turned out to be not only a great and healthy dish, relying on whole-wheat pasta, 1% cottage cheese, frozen spinach and the TVP, but an economical recipe too! The best way to top off the sauce is simply throwing in a good glug of red wine and some dried herbs from your cupboard! This is definitely a good make on the weekend for Wednesday night type of thing too, since it needs to rest overnight before baking, and maintains flavour and texture even after a lengthy freeze. The one that was demolished by my family this past week was actually made in early December, and my mom and the unsuspecting "victims" *cue evil laugh* claimed it to be one of the best meals I'd ever made them.

This cozy, comforting dish is hopefully one to find itself cozied up amongst the other stars at Ruth's Presto Pasta Nights roundup this Friday! Don't forget that, like almost every other pasta dish, you have the power to play! That's the best part about the kitchen, everything is a learning experience and whatever you do will keep your mind buzzing!

Que Sarah Sarah Lasagne
Serves 8 (or 6, when your stepbrother eats for 2!)
2 cups 1% cottage cheese
1 tbsp garlic powder
½ tbsp oregano
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp black pepper
1 10-oz pkg frozen spinach, thawed and drained
½ large white onion, chopped
½ lb cremini mushrooms, chopped roughly
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup roasted red peppers, chopped
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
1 cup TVP granules
1/3 cup red wine
Pinch crushed chili flakes
½ tbsp basil
½ tsp lemon zest (optional, but good!)
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 box whole-wheat lasagne sheets, par-cooked and drained
1 oz finely shredded mozzarella cheese
1 oz finely shredded Fontina cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. In a blender or food processor, puree cottage cheese through black pepper.
  3. Pour into a bowl and fold in spinach until well combined. Set aside.
  4. In a large non-stick skillet, saute onion and mushrooms until golden.
  5. Add garlic and roasted peppers and cook, stirring, about 3 minutes.
  6. Pour in tomatoes, TVP, red wine, chili flakes, basil and lemon zest.
  7. Stir, reduce heat to low and mix in tomato paste.
  8. Turn off heat but keep skillet on burner.
  9. Spread a thin layer of the tomato mixture on the bottom of a 9x13" baking dish.
  10. Top with 4 par-cooked noodles, then layer the 1/2 the cottage cheese mixture on top of that.
  11. Follow with 4 more noodles, and 1/2 the remaining red sauce.
  12. Layer the final noodles on top.
  13. Stir the rest of the red sauce into the cheese mixture and spread on top of everything in the dish. Top with shredded cheeses.
  14. **Dish can be frozen at this point for later, if so, thaw out completely before proceeding with recipe.
  15. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until completely heated through and bubbly, tenting with foil if necessary.
  16. Let stand 5 minutes before cutting.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 353.9
Total Fat: 3.7 g
Cholesterol: 8.4 mg
Sodium: 834.3 mg
Total Carbs: 61.3 g
Dietary Fiber: 11.5 g
Protein: 24.7 g

4 comments :

Anonymous said...

hey angel angel this sounds so freaking good amazing post love ya

Ruth Daniels said...

great post and thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Night. I wonder how many other carnivores we can trick ;-)

Michelle said...

I love tricking carnivores! However, my grown-up kids are smart; they know that since I don't eat meat, I don't cook meat. So...they don't trust my meat-lookng dinners. :-) I'm working on them, though. This lasagna looks great. Have you tried doing part TVP and part finely chopped muhrooms, sauteed until they release their liquid and brown nicely? It's one of my standard meat-replacements for the times when I long for comfort-food from my omnivore days. I'll be back to visit again.

Nupur said...

That looks so hearty and delicious! I have tons of TVP that I need to use up, and I hope to try this recipe soon.