Small Time Cooks – 4/12/05

Maria and I were resting after a long weekend out. We both felt like a couple of rags, and we needed some food to purify our systems. Maria suggested we make some home-cooked food, and vegetables always make us feel healthy, so we decided on vegetable lasagna and a salad. We didn’t want to abandon flavor, so we spiced up our salad with a curry sauce. We let the vegetables do the talking in the lasagna, and we were able to cut down the amount of cheese we put in.

These dishes serve 4.

Vegetable Lasagna

1 1/2 cups of ricotta cheese

1/4 cup of grated Parmesan

1 egg

2 Tablespoons minced parsley

2 Tablespoons minced basil

1-2 cloves minced garlic

salt and black pepper

1 26 oz. jar of tomato sauce (al forno or marinara is good)

lasagna noodles, uncooked

1 red bell pepper

1/2 cup raw spinach

6-8 crimini mushrooms

1/2 of a red onion

1/4 cup of Parmesan or mozzarella for topping

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. You don’t have to cook the lasagna noodles beforehand; the juices from the vegetables and sauce will cook them. Combine the first seven ingredients in a bowl. This is the cheese filling. Slice the bell pepper, spinach, mushrooms, and onion thinly. Get a casserole dish, something like 13-inch by 9-inch or a big soufflé dish.

Coat the bottom with some of the sauce, then put down a layer of the lasagna noodles, followed by a layer of cheese, then vegetables and sauce. Repeat with noodles, cheese, veggies, and sauce all the way up to the top. You can top the lasagna with a layer of noodles and sauce and then sprinkle the topping cheese on, and the top layer of noodles will remain nicely al dente. Bake for about an hour to 75 minutes, until the top layer of noodles is al dente (if it still has a little bite, it should be fine after it cools). Cool for at least five minutes before serving. If you don’t let it cool, the liquid from the vegetables will not soak back into the lasagna, and you’ll be left with vegetable noodle soup.

Curry Corn Spinach Salad

1 ear of corn or 1 cup of canned corn kernels

1/4 of a red onion

1 1/2 cups of sliced spinach

1 cup vegetable broth


2 tablespoons white wine

salt and pepper

dash of oregano

Begin by boiling the corn if it’s on the ear. Meanwhile, start the vegetable broth on a low simmer in an uncovered pot. When the liquid has reduced by half, add a Tablespoon of the wine and a couple dashes of curry. Let cook for a few minutes and then taste, adding more curry if you want it. Let the liquid cook down to just shy of a quarter cup.

If the corn was on the ear, stand the ear up and run a knife down the side of the ear to pull the kernels off. If you get a lot of resistance, you’re cutting too deep into the ear, and you should make a shallower slice. Slice the red onion thinly into half rings. Toss the onion and corn into the reduced vegetable broth and mix together. Let simmer on medium high for a couple of minutes, and add in the remaining white wine, salt and pepper, and the dash of oregano. Cook until the red onion is tender, which will take about five minutes. Place over the sliced spinach and serve warm.