Easy Veggie Lasagna – great for summer!

I’m new to the meatless world.  I’m delighted to have found it to be much more creative than I could have guessed.  I’m actually kind of surprised how few salads I’ve made since taking on one meatless meal a week.  It’s also a nice break from all the chicken I end up making. Also, it helps stretch the meat I buy, and cuts down a bit on the grocery bill.  While I grew up in a very red-meat-and-potatoes home, the price of beef these days makes me sad, and makes me stick to more reasonably chicken and pork cuts.

This week the meatless world has blessed me with a gem of a lasagna recipe.  I love lasagna in many forms, but I’ve only made it a few times in the last few years.  I absolutely hate wrestling with hot, slippery, boiled noodles to hold in a pair of tongs without breaking, then to lay flat in a baking dish.  A friend of mine enlightened me to the realm of fresh pasta: when laid into a lasagna, the sauce is juicy enough to cook the noodles in baking – so no more boiling!

This recipe, found originally on SkinnyMs.com, clarified here.  Aside from boiling the noodles, the filling doesn’t require any stove top cooking, and is baked low and slow, so it minimally heats up your house.  To sweeten the deal, if you make it by the original recipe, there’s less than 300 calories per serving!  I changed the recipe here just a little, as I didn’t have all the required vegetables, but I made up up in extra quantities of others.  Also, as you have probably inferred, I swapped out the whole wheat pasta for fresh.  A single batch of this stuff will feed a crowd – as many of you know, it’s just me and my husband at our house, so I halved the recipe.  It still filled a 7 x 11 baking dish.

Super Veggie Lasagna

Veggie Lasagna
Great use of summer vegetables!

3 cups grated carrots
2 cups grated zucchini
3 cups frozen spinach
1 medium bell pepper, chopped (any color)
31/4 cups diced fresh tomatoes
2 (15-ounce) cans tomato sauce, no salt added (we used Hunt’s brand)
1 teaspoon oregano
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/2 pound brown mushrooms
1 (12-ounce) package whole-wheat lasagna noodles, cooked to package directions
11/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese, divided
8 ounces grated mozzarella (2 cups)
Chopped fresh basil for garnish (optional)

Combine all ingredients, except the noodles and cheeses, in a large mixing bowl.  Stir well to combine.

Layer in a lightly greased 9×13-inch baking dish: noodles, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, 1/2 the veggie mix, noodles, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, remaining veggie mix, noodles, remaining Parmesan cheese, and all the mozzarella.  Bake at 350° for 40 minutes.

Another way I like to break the monotony of chicken is in fish.  I know my husband doesn’t like it, but at least once a week I fend for myself for supper, so I make something he doesn’t like.  Normally on these nights I wrap them up in a foil packet with butter, herbs, and a hint of lemon juice, but this week I felt like changing it up a little.  This is one of my MacGuyver meals – where I looked around the pantry and hoped for the best.  I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.

Dijon Tilapia
Sometimes I even surprise myself.

Dijon Tilapia

  • 4 tilapia filets
  • 2 tsp. Dijon Mustard
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 Tbsp. Old Bay (or seafood seasoning mix of choice)
  • 1 C Panko crumbs

In a small bowl,  stir together the panko and Old Bay.  In another small bowl, beat the egg and mix in the Dijon until well combined.  Dredge the fish in the egg mixture, then the panko mixture, patting to adhere the crumbs.  Bake at 425 for 20 minutes.

My last offering to you this week is a great side dish, reminiscent of my childhood.  One of my favorite sides is cornbread casserole, but one batch makes so much of it, it doesn’t make sense to make it for just two people.  This recipe is very similar in flavors, but fried up like silver-dollar pancakes, though next time I might halve the recipe since they made so many.  I was surprised to find how great they are with a spicy guacamole or a hearty salsa.

Cheesy Corn Cakes

Cheesy Corn Cakes
A wonderful reminder of childhood happiness.
  • 2  cups of frozen corn
  • 1 can creamed corn
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 C grated cheddar
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 C flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 C milk

In a large bowl, combine corn, creamed corn, eggs, cheddar, paprika and salt.  Sift in flour and baking powder.  Mix until combined.  Slowly pour in milk, stirring but not too much, as to not thin out the batter, which should slide off spoon easily.

In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, heat a few tablespoons of oil.  When warmed, drop in large spoonfuls of batter, frying until bubbles rise to the top, then flip.  When the other side is done, transfer to a paper towel to drain excess oil, though in my experience there isn’t much.  Keep warm and covered until all are ready to serve.

Tip of the week: Go enjoy all the fruits and veggies this season, and enjoy them even more on a grill.