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Through my Cook-a-Palooza College and University Cooking Tour I get the opportunity to talk with a number of students. Something that I try to impart with them is that cooking can actually save you time. Sounds crazy doesn’t it?
Let's use this Vegetable Lasagna Recipe as an example. Lasagna isn't difficult to prepare but you'll have to dedicate about an hour to make it. That obviously doesn’t sound like a “time saver” type dish.
However if you’ve ever made lasagna you know that in most cases you're going to have lots of leftovers! This vegetable lasagna provides 8 to10 servings so if you’re living on your own that will cover dinner for at least 3 or 4 days! The bonus is for each of those days you won't have to spend time thinking about what to prepare for dinner. That’s saving time at its best!
Now you might be thinking frozen lasagna would be the best of both worlds. Think again! Frozen lasagna is both costly and it usually takes over an hour to cook…you’ll be done this fresh lasagna in less than an hour if you’re decent at chopping veggies. If you’re looking for some tips in this regard, check out this video.
This lasagna gets brownie points because it’s packed with nutritious vegetables and uses low-fat cottage cheese as the filling instead of ground meat. What I really like is it doesn’t make you feel sluggish after eating a regular size piece. No post lasagna naps required!
It’s the complete lasagna and that’s why I’m pairing it with The Tragically Hip's disc "Fully Completely". You'll probably get through songs such Looking For a Place to Happen, and even Locked in the Trunk of a Car before you're done making this dish but I have a good feeling you won’t be disappointed with the music or the lasagna!
Hip Vegetable Lasagna
Three cheese lasagna full of nutritious vegetables
2 tsp olive oil
2 cups small broccoli florets
1 cup each diced onions and diced carrots
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1½ tsp each dried basil leaves and dried oregano leaves
1 can (28 oz / 796 ml) stewed tomatoes, undrained and puréed
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
¼ tsp each salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
12 uncooked lasagna noodles (about 12 oz) (see cooking tip)
2 cups low-fat cottage cheese, divided
2 cups (packed) shredded cheese (8 oz / 227 g), divided
In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add broccoli, onions, carrots, red peppers and celery. Cook for 7 minutes or until vegetables begin to soften. Stir in garlic, basil and oregano. Cook and stir for 1 minute more. Add puréed canned tomatoes, vinegar, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan cheese.
While sauce is simmering, in a large soup pot, cook lasagna noodles as per package directions. Drain, rinse with cold water and drain again.
To assemble lasagna, spread 1 cup cooked sauce over the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Top with 4 cooked lasagna noodles. Spread 1 cup cottage cheese over noodles followed by 1/3 of the remaining sauce. Top with 4 cooked noodles, followed by the remaining cottage cheese, followed by ½ the remaining sauce. Sprinkle with 1 cup shredded cheese. Layer the remaining 4 cooked noodles on top. Spread remaining sauce over noodles. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top.
Cover with foil and bake in a 350º F oven for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Let stand, uncovered, 5 minutes before serving.
Volume: Makes 10 servings
Cooking Tip: If you’d prefer to use oven-ready lasagna noodles, be sure to add a 1/2 cup tomato sauce to the sauce or you may find the lasagna to be too dry. Cook-On!
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Brent Garell (The Kitchen Roadie)