Here’s another post from your newest PDH blogger, Ellen. –Ed.
Tragically, my garden has been eaten to the last leaf by grasshoppers. I am still drying my tears as we speak. And wreaking vengeance every chance I get on those horrible bugs. However, other lucky gardeners probably had better luck (or skill) than I did. Which means they’re overflowing with zucchini, squash, corn, onions, tomatoes, etc., and looking for ways to use them. I think I’ve made the perfect recipe to use all these, so I’ll call it Garden Lasagna. Almost everything in it could feasibly come from a garden grown in Montana. Except cheese, which doesn’t grow on bushes last time I checked.* You could make your own if you had a cow . . . but I’m not getting into that.
I’d heard that using eggplant slices in place of noodles in lasagna was delicious. I like cooking things that are just a little different (not to mention healthier substitutions). When mom brought home an eggplant one day, I started looking for recipes. I found recipes with bacon that didn’t sound tempting. Even Cook’s Illustrated failed me, since their recipe just used chunks of eggplant in between regular lasagna noodles.
I ended up cobbling together my own, though I used some advice from the other recipes to help me along. For example, it saves time to stir together the ingredients for the sauce without cooking it, and it tastes just as good. After running out of eggplant, I learned that zucchini works well for “noodles” also, but use eggplant if you can get it.
This turned out pretty amazing. My brother called it “incredible” and my mother decided she would take it over the regular beef and noodle lasagna any day.** Here it is!
Ellen’s Garden Lasagna
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
½ onion, diced
2 tbsp. basil, fresh or dried
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pinch cayenne pepper
2 large eggplants (optional: zucchini)
Few shakes of salt
½ large zucchini, diced
1 yellow squash, diced
4 cups spinach
¾ cup gold kernel corn
2 heads broccoli
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp. basil
2 cups cheddar cheese
2 cups low-fat cottage cheese
Stir together ingredients for sauce in a bowl and set aside.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Slice eggplant into ¼ inch slices. Lightly salt slices and lay them on a large plate over paper towels to soak up moisture. Microwave between 3-5 minutes until slightly shriveled and dry.
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan. Saute the diced squash and zucchini with basil and garlic cloves for 5 minutes. Add 2 cups spinach and cook for about one minute until wilted. Remove vegetable mixture and repeat with broccoli, corn, and remaining 2 cups spinach.
Spray a 9×13 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Spread 1 cup of tomato sauce mixture in the bottom of the pan. Overlap slices of eggplant over sauce. Spread zucchini/squash vegetable mix in an even layer. Follow with 1 cup cottage cheese and 1 cup cheddar cheese.
Repeat layers with 1 cup of sauce, a layer of broccoli/corn, cottage cheese, and top layer of eggplant slices.Pour remaining sauce over top and sprinkle with last cup of cheese.
Bake at 375 for about 30 minutes, or until sauce is bubbling and cheese is beginning to toast brown.
*That would be awesome, though. –Ed.
**I suspect Dad was not so enthused about this. Remember when he made fun of my broccoli soup? –Ed.