Let me firstly say two things to preface this post:
1) I do not consider myself to be a chef, so, if there are a ton of mistakes in this recipe, feel free to have a giggle or two at my expense.
2) I posted pics of my experimental lasagna on Instagram and a good friend of mine said I should blog the recipe, so here it goes!
I mentioned in a previous post that I have given up meat for Lent. This endeavor does not include my family (they had sausage pizza the night before I cooked this lasagna) but it has given me the opportunity to prepare some vegetarian meals, something I've never really done before. The only thing I've noticed not eating meat is that I've felt a little light-headed at times, before I realized I wasn't eating my daily piece of turkey sausage (yum!), and was thusly missing out on my daily dose of iron. Enter dark leaves: Spinach, collard greens, kale, etc. If I whip up a smoothie and throw in some spinach leaves, I feel great. Yes, sad to say, I was not eating dark green leaves every day ... but I was putting down turkey sausage! Woot woot!
Anyway. On Friday night, I had some lasagna noodles handy and decided to try my own version of veggie lasagna.
I made this on the fly, so I'm trying to remember exactly what I used. You'll see some strange things possibly, like garbanzo beans, or chickpeas. Let me tell you something I've discovered thus far in my meatlessness: A lot of what I love about meat is the texture. I'm totally a texture person. I did not know this about myself. I like just about any food, but I really love good texture above anything else. Huh. Who knew! That being said, I tried to think of something dense that could replace the texture that meat provides in lasagna. Enter pulvarized garbanzo beans. Sounds weird, but it worked.
Here is the rough ingredient list:
Lasagna noodles (a normal-sized package?)
Two tomatoes, sliced
16 oz. fresh mozarella, sliced
A good chunk of crumbly feta cheese, to taste (We were out of parmesan, so I used this--it worked great)
2-3 cups cottage cheese
8 oz. garbanzo beans (yes, I used canned)
A bit of onion, diced
A bit of garlic, diced
Handful of spinach leaves, stems removed
Handful of kale, stems removed
Whatever itty-bitty tiny amount of spaghetti sauce you find at the bottom of the jar in the back of your fridge
Red wine vinegar (optional)
Salt and pepper (always a good idea)
Shakey-shake of basil (fresh is better, but I didn't have any)
Preheat oven to 350.
I boiled my lasagna noodles. See? Right there, you can totally make fun of me. Call me nutty, but I just can't bring myself to not boil my lasagna pasta. Lame, I know. Anyway. If you boil your noodles, start heating the pot now. When boiling, add your noodles and cook until al dente. Drain. Lay them on paper towels to help pull some of the moisture out.
Saute half of your diced onion and garlic in olive oil on the stove. I also used a dash of red wine vinegar. Once the onions are clear, add the garbanzo beans (I like my garbanzo beans more when they are flavored a little, hence, the sautéing ). Stir them around in there until they get a little toasty on the outside. Then remove them from the pan and dump them in your food processor. I have a small one and they all fit fine. Pulse until they are crumbly. Not liquified, just crumbly.
Add another drizzle of olive oil to the same pan, with the rest of your garlic and onion. Saute once again, and when the onions are clear, add your handfuls of greens. Saute until they are nice and wilty.
Dump your cottage cheese into a medium bowl. Add your now-crumbly garbanzo beans and your crumbly feta. Stir like a boss. Add your wilty greens. Add a shakey-shake of basil. Continue stirring like a boss. If it gets too thick, add a drizzle of olive oil and continue stirring. Good job. Give it a tasty-taste. Add salt and pepper as needed. If the thought of lasagna filling without an egg freaks you out, throw in an egg. I forgot to. The finished product still tasted great.
Grease (spray?) a 13x9 baking dish with olive oil spray and add your first layer of lasagna noodles. Take whatever pathetically small amount of spaghetti sauce you can scrape from the bottom of the jar and use a spoon to spread it on the noodles. Add a layer of your cottage cheese/garbanzo bean/wilty green/feta mixture on next, then add a layer of sliced mozarella, and finish with your sliced tomatoes. Like this:
Continue that same layering pattern: Noodles, pathetically small amount of spaghetti sauce, cottage cheese/garbanzo bean/wilty greens/feta mixture, fresh mozarella, sliced tomatoes.
Finish with a layer of fresh mozarella on top, and throw it in the oven for 30-40 minutes.
Oh y'all. OH. It was so good. I don't know how, but it was. It was even thicker and better the next day after spending some time in the fridge. In fact, next time I might make it a day in advance and let it chill in the fridge (ha ha) to help the ingredients meld a little. Mmm.
My husband gave me a high-five and the kids devoured their pieces, wilty greens and all.
There you have it! Improvised Veggie Lasagna.
Have a lovely day!