Tuesday, June 12, 2012

One Day at a Time Lasagnettes with Dark and Rich Sundried Tomato Sauce

I'm an impatient person. When I want something done, be it a mental task, a physical exploit or even a loaf of bread, I want it done now. I'm always being told to hang on a second, wait a minute, or that something will get done "soon". I detest the last one - especially since it's always in reference to something I have no control over, have no skill set for, and yet for some reason still believe that I could do it better. The strange thing is that I'm always thinking towards the future, but I over-think along the way and either find myself too distracted or afraid to make any sort of movement towards the next day. That's probably the reason why I have such poor time-management skills, though the actual chemical imbalances in my brain don't help - I'm doing everything and nothing for tomorrow and yesterday, and forgetting to live in the now. When that happens, and it so often does, I dwell on it, fretting and humming and hawing about how I failed or coulda-shoulda-woulda. These days more than ever, I really need to learn to take life one day at a time.

Our whole family is being forced to take that "one day at a time" mentality on these days, due to my grandfather's recent illness. As much as we'd like not to think about it, we must, and the best way we've found to cope with the stress is just by living each and every breath and blink as it comes. Of course, I also try to keep the days going by keeping meals and treats coming, which may come back to bite us all on our (larger) rear ends. For my mother and grandmother's sakes, I've been trying my best to keep their eating patterns as regular as I can - while my mom is pretty good with it since the rest of the household is eating with her, my grandma is alone at home right now and during the day the hospital's food is either too expensive or impractical for her to have, or the offerings are so imbalanced that they would never constitute any sort of nutritional meal. Because of all this, she hasn't been eating well, and coupled with her not sleeping well, it's causing me a fair amount of concern. Now I know why families in crisis are stereotypically given tons of casseroles.

Mom's Artichoke Version
When I was creating these individual, easy-to-heat-and-eat "lasagnettes", I wasn't necessarily making them with an eye towards antioxidant and anticancer benefits. However, that seems to be what happened - especially in terms of the sauce. I broke out the garden tomatoes I had canned and dried last year and teamed them up with some fresh and dried herbs from our backyard and pantry, enriched the sauce with balsamic vinegar, turmeric and cocoa, and finally tossed in some extra veggies from the depth of the fridge. While that cooked out, I whipped some homemade ricotta with a can of navy beans and a full package of frozen Cookin' Greens™ all-natural spinach. Meat was replaced by some rehydrated TVP (except for a few of mom's where chopped artichoke hearts fit the bill) and the whole shebang was enveloped in hearty whole grain pasta and capped off with some low-fat Mozzarella cheese. I baked a few of them to send home with my grandma on Sunday night and froze the rest "raw" so mom could have them over the coming weeks. Either way, they are delicious, and a great minimal-thought, high-impact meal for however many you have at the table.

I'm sharing this with Presto Pasta Nights, hosted this week by Elizabeth of The Law Students Cookbook.

Dark and Rich Sundried Tomato Sauce
Makes about 8 cups, or 16 (1/2-cup) servings
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
6 oz carrots, grated finely
1/2 zucchini, grated finely
1 red pepper, diced
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp kosher salt
7 1/2 cups no-salt-added crushed tomatoes
1/2 tbsp turmeric
1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tbsp dried basil
3 oz sundried tomatoes
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp lemon balm leaves, minced (alternatively use 1-2 tsp lemon zest)
  1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil.
  2. Add the onion and cook over medium heat until translucent.
  3. Add the garlic and carrots and cook until the garlic is fragrant, then add the zucchini, red pepper, black pepper and salt and cook 2 minutes more.
  4. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, then add the turmeric, cocoa, oregano, thyme and basil.
  5. Cover and simmer for 40 minutes, then puree with an immersion blender or in a regular blender in batches.
  6. Return to the pot, stir in the sundried tomatoes and simmer 15 minutes longer.
  7. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and lemon balm and remove from the heat.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 88.6
Total Fat: 1.7 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 31.7 mg
Total Carbs: 14.7 g
Dietary Fiber: 5.0 g
Protein: 3.6 g

One Day at a Time Lasagnettes
15 servings

"Un-Beef" Filling
2 cups dry TVP
1 1/4 cups hot "un-beef" broth
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 3/4 cups sauce (see above)

"White and Green" Filling
2 cups cooked navy beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups low fat ricotta cheese (I used homemade)
500g chopped frozen spinach (I used Cookin' Greens)
pinch each black pepper and kosher salt

20 whole wheat lasagna noodles
3/4 cup sauce (see above)
375g low fat Mozzarella cheese, finely grated

"Un-Beef" Filling:
  1. Combine the TVP, broth and soy sauce in a bowl. Cover and let stand 15 minutes.
  2. Stir in the sauce and set aside.
"White and Green" Filling:
  1. In a food processor, puree the navy beans until smooth.
  2. Add the ricotta, spinach, salt and pepper and pulse in until combined.

  1. Grease 15 4 x 3" foil baking pans and place on cookie sheets.
  2. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook lasagna noodles until they are 2 minutes shy of the "al dente" time stated on the box.
  3. Drain and spread flat on a cookie sheet to cool slightly.
  4. Cut noodles into thirds across the "short" side. You should have 60 pieces.
  5. On the bottom of each mini-pan, spread a thin layer of sauce. Top with 1 noodle piece, then a layer of spinach filling, another noodle and a layer of "Un-Beef" filling.
  6. Top with the last noodle, a (generous) layer of plain sauce and a layer of mozzarella.
  7. You can bake these all at once and freeze them cooked for fast reheating, or freeze them raw and bake later.

If cooking immediately:
  1. Preheat the oven to 375F.
  2. Bake lasagnettes on the cookie sheets, covered, for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake a further 10-15 minutes, until browned and bubbly.
  3. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
If cooking from frozen:
  1. Preheat the oven to 325F.
  2. Bake lasagnettes on the cookie sheets, covered, for 50 minutes. Uncover and bake a further 10-15 minutes, until browned and bubbly.
  3. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
When reheating (assuming cooked previously):
  1. Thaw lasagne completely in the fridge.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F.
  3. Dock the lasagna all over with a fork and drizzle in about 1 - 2 tsp milk.
  4. Cover and bake lasagnettes on the cookie sheets for 15-20 minutes, until heated through.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 334.2
Total Fat: 8.3 g
Cholesterol: 24.7 mg
Sodium: 395.5 mg
Total Carbs: 40.2 g
Dietary Fiber: 11.4 g
Protein: 25.9 g


  1. Sun dried tomatoes have such a unique and rich flavor! I am sure these lasagnas was packed with aromas!


Thanks for the feedback!