Thursday, 18 December 2008

Roasted Veggie and Spinach Lasagna

I literally crave Italian food every now and then and making this lasagna really hits the spot on those days!

I made this roasted veggie and a spinach lasagna using fresh pasta sheets, I've been using the fresh pasta for a while now instead of the dried ones and boy, does it make a difference- for the better, of course!
Here is my recipe for this family favorite, I am also going to include a recipe for my pasta sauce.
I make my own pasta sauce because I love its flavor....I am so used to the homemade one, I cannot go back to the jarred or canned ones! Sit down with a cup of coffee to read ahead, its kind of lengthy - but worth it!

You will need:
~1 box- fresh pasta sheets (Lasagna Sheets, I used Olivieri brand)
~1 small packet - baby spinach, 1-2 bell peppers, 1 large red onion, 2-3 zucchinis and squash ( yellow or butternut squash works well) or use both!
2 carrots - all chopped, except the spinach, I added that as is.
~Tomato Sauce - as needed
~Bechamel Sauce - as needed
~Italian Cheese blend or you can use Mozzarella and Parmesan
~1 heaping tbsp - Italian seasoning blend, Salt to taste and Olive Oil

First, Make the sauce ahead of time: For the fresh TOMATO sauce, you will need:
  • 2- 35oz cans of whole plum tomatoes or 3-4 lbs fresh ripe plum tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp- olive oil
  • 5-6 med cloves of garlic- sliced, 1 red onion - sliced, 1 small chili pepper - sliced
  • Few Fresh leaves of Basil, use some dried ones if you can't find fresh ones
  • Salt and a pinch of sugar
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
Heat the oil in a deep pan, and add the garlic, onions, chili and the red pepper flakes. Don't let the garlic brown too much.
Add in the tomatoes. If you are using canned tomatoes mash them up with the masher. Bring the sauce up to a simmer, let it cook for 10 minutes. Add the salt, black pepper and the sugar and then the Basil. Let it simmer until it reaches a thick consistency. Blend it towards the end to make it uniform.

Now get ready to grill the veggies:

Chop up all the veggies except the spinach - add a drizzle of Olive oil, some Italian seasoning if you have some on hand, or use some dried parsely and oregano flakes, mix well and layer on a cookie sheet. Heat your oven to 375F and let it cook until semi soft. Do NOT add salt to these veggies, they will turn mushy. Set aside.

While the veggies are baking, make the bechamel sauce, I usually follow this recipe and it turns out well.

Bechamel Sauce:
  • 6 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2 ½ cups hot milk ( 2% is ok)
  • 2 tbsp- parmesan cheese
  • salt
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • pinch of nutmeg (about ¼ tsp)
To make the sauce, melt the butter with the olive oil in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the flour and stir well, being careful. Then slowly add the hot milk while whisking vigorously. The mixture will seem to clump, but keep whisking and it will end up smooth. Add the salt, pepper and nutmeg. Put it back on the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the Parmesan cheese at this point.

Now,on to the lasagna:

Spoon some sauce in a baking pan, and layer a sheet of the pasta, add the grilled veggies and some of the fresh baby spinach - as is. Add a little bit of the cheese and then add both Bechamel and some tomato sauce on top. Repeat for another two layers. On the top layer, add some more cheese, bechamel sauce, tomato sauce and some crushed pepper flakes if you like. Bake in a preheated oven (375F) for 30 minutes covered with foil, and then for 15 more minutes, uncovered.

Serve this delicious meal with a side of garlic bread and a salad.

Happy Holidays to all of you.


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