Five-Cheese Vegetarian Lasagna

Monday, September 7, 2015

Cooking has become one of my love languages.  If you love me, cook good food for me.  If I love you, I will cook good food for you.  That's why I love cooking for Adam and Fox; feeding them nourishing, delicious, and seasonal food is a way for me to tell them "I love you."  And in no other season is this easier than in fall.

Fall brings a lot of things that I love: sweaters, root vegetables, juicy apples, the dusty smell of the neglected heater, end of the day couch-snuggles, and warm food.  There is something wonderful about having Adam home at the end of a long, chilly day and eating a delicious warm meal together while we talk about the events of the day.

A key part of that ritual is the food.  Nothing makes for good conversation like good food.  And lasagna is one of our personal favorites.  It is a wonderful dish with some of my favorite ingredients:  Layers upon layers of soft noodles, fluffy ricotta cheese, flavorful puddles of sauce, seasonal vegetables, and—to top it off—melty cheese that hangs in strings off your fork.  Is there anything not to like about lasagna? I don't think so.

I typically make everything from scratch when I cook, but Mezzetta has a whole line of 'home made' pasta sauces that are made from fresh ingredients, have no added sugar, and add terrific flavor to a dish like lasagna.  Lasagna already has a lot of ingredients and can be a long process, so I prefer to shorten one of the steps by using a pasta sauce in a jar.

This fall, Mezzetta is doing a fun giveaway, where you can win a Perfect Pasta Night Kit!  The kit includes several delicious pasta sauces, pasta, an apron, a $500 grocery gift card, and a few other things for a great family pasta night!  I don't know about you but I love free pasta sauce and free groceries!  Head on over to enter!

As always, thank you for supporting the brands that make this blog possible! It is greatly appreciated!

Begin by slicing up your vegetables.  I sliced my zucchini and summer squash with a knife, but a mandolin would work great too.  Slice your onion and then cut the circles into fourths, for small pieces.

In a medium-sized frying pan, melt your butter, then add the onions.  Cook until they are soft and beginning to brown.

Remove the onions and place on a plate, then add the zucchini and cook until one side is brown.  Flip and cook the other side until it begins to brown.  Remove from the pan, add the summer squash, and repeat the process.

In a medium-sized pot, cook your lasagna noodles in boiling water until they are al-dente.  Drain the water out and remove the noodles so they don't stick.

In a small bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, basil, garlic, salt, and pepper and stir until you have a smooth mixture.

Shred about a cup of cheese. Or as much as you want.  The more the merrier, really.

 Spread an even layer of your Mezzetta Pasta Sauce in the bottom of your pan (I used an 11x7" pyrex dish).

Prepare all your ingredients for layering the lasagna.

On top of the Mezzetta sauce, lay down three noodles (I had to tear off the ends of the noodles, because they were too long).
Next, spread an even layer of ricotta across the noodles.

Now lay down your zucchini and summer squash on top of the ricotta and sprinkle with onions (not pictured).

Sprinkle cheese liberally over the vegetables.

Carefully spread Mezzetta Pasta Sauce over the cheese. And repeat your process again with noodles, ricotta, vegetables, onions, cheese and then one last set of noodles.

Over your top layer of noodles, spread a layer of Mezzetta Pasta Sauce and then sprinkle a little cheese on top (you can hold off on this until after it comes out of the oven; a lot of my cheese got stuck to the foil I had placed over it).

Cover with foil and cook in a preheated oven for about 25 minutes and then remove the foil and cook for another 10 - 15 minutes, or until the cheese on top is melted and the sauce is bubbling.  
Five-Cheese Vegetarian Lasagna:
makes one 7x11" lasagna (serves 4)

1 summer squash
1 zucchini
1/2 yellow onion
1 Tbs unsalted butter
6 cups water
9 lasagna noodles (about 1/2 of a 16-oz package of lasagna noodles)
1 15-oz container of ricotta cheese
1 tsp basil
1/4 tsp garlic
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 bottle of Mezzetta's "Parmesan, Asiago & Romano" Homemade Pasta Sauce
1 cup of shredded white cheddar cheese

On a cutting board, chop the ends off your squash and zucchini.  Lengthwise, slice your vegetables into thin strips.  Cut your onion into wheels and then dice those wheels.

In a frying pan, melt your butter, then add the onions.  Cook for about 5 minutes, until they soften and being to turn brown.  Remove them from the pan and add the zucchini, laying each piece of zucchini out so none of them are overlapping.  When the side facing down begins to brown, flip and let that side brown.  Remove from the pan, and repeat with the squash.

In a pot, bring about 6 cups of water to a boil, then add the lasagna noodles, turn the heat down to medium and let them cook for about 8 minutes, until the noodles are soft.  Remove from heat, drain most of the water and set aside (leave about 1/4 cup of water in the pot to prevent sticking).

In a small bowl, combine ricotta, basil, garlic, pepper and salt and mix until the spices are evenly distributed.

Preheat your oven to 375°F.

In a 7x11" baking dish, spread about 1/4" of Mezzetta pasta sauce across the bottom in an even layer. Lay three noodles on top, then spread half of the ricotta cheese mixture on top.  On top of the ricotta cheese, lay down the zucchini and summer squash slices, and sprinkle onions on top.  Cover with a layer of shredded cheese.  Repeat your process over again, beginning with the pasta sauce, and once you have laid down the other layers, cover your shredded cheese layer with three more noodles.  Spread another layer of pasta sauce on top, and then sprinkle cheese on the top.

Cover with foil (you may want to spray it so your cheese doesn't stick to it), and stick it in a preheated oven for 25 minutes.  When your time goes off, remove the foil and replace in the oven for an additional 10 - 15 minutes.  Remove when the cheese on top is melted, and the pasta sauce is bubbling.  Let it cool slightly and serve!

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