ARTS

  /  

October 24, 2006

Out to Lunch—October 24, 2006

On this campus, it is not just the impending winter that makes the days seem shorter. Somehow, between the research assistant jobs, the RSO responsibilities, and the inevitable demands of classes, 24 hours fall far short of what’s needed to get everything done, even when only four of those hours are devoted to sleep.

While we have all accustomed ourselves to the constant lack of sleep, what still surprises me is how willing we are to sacrifice meals for the sake of these other obligations. Is it not amazing that a few months of Plato and calculus can persuade us to forsake our most basic of needs?

The things that we do now might help us cure cancer, save the world, or go to school for ten more years, but once in a while, let’s shed this mindset of delayed gratification. Let’s forget about Plato for a moment and channel Orson Welles, who cheekily instructs us: “Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch.”

Today’s lunch is a hearty meat lasagna with zucchini, squash, and spinach. Get a group of your equally stressed friends together to enjoy a satisfying and easy home-cooked meal. This lasagna is my take on a standard recipe, sans much of the ricotta cheese that I don’t like and adding many vegetables that I adore.

You can easily accommodate this recipe to your own tastes by adding different vegetables or including more or less of any of the standard ingredients. The success of a lasagna rests largely in how soupy or firm it becomes, so make sure that you drain whatever vegetables you choose of any excess liquid. Bell peppers, onions and mushrooms would all work wonderfully in this recipe.

Heavenly hint: To save time, buy spaghetti sauce that already includes some of your preferred ingredients, such as mushrooms or onions.

The Ingredients

1 lb. ground beef

3 cups spaghetti sauce

1 cup tomato sauce

3/4 cup ricotta cheese

1/2 slightly beaten egg

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves

12 pieces oven-ready lasagna

4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

2 zucchinis

2 yellow squash

2 bundles of spinach

Vegetable or olive oil

The Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375° F.

2. Wash the vegetables. Slice the zucchinis and squash into 1/4-inch thick slices.

3. Cook the spinach in a little vegetable or olive oil until fully wilted. Let cool. Squeeze out as much liquid as possible.

4. Cook the zucchinis and squash on medium heat until fairly soft. This might take a little while. These vegetables don’t cook much more in the oven, for some reason, so make sure you get them to just the texture that you want them.

5. Brown the ground beef in a large pan. Drain. Stir in spaghetti and tomato sauces.

6. In a separate bowl, stir ricotta cheese, egg, basil, and oregano, set aside.

7. In a 13 x 9 x 12-inch dish, spread enough meat sauce to cover the bottom.

8. Place three pieces of pasta parallel to each other over the sauce. Spread a thin layer of the ricotta mixture over each piece of the pasta. Spread about 3/4 cup of meat sauce evenly over the ricotta. Make sure to cover the pasta completely. Place a layer of the zucchini, squash, and spinach over the meat sauce. Sprinkle with one cup of mozzarella cheese.

9. Repeat step 8 twice.

10. Top with the remaining three pieces of pasta. Spread the remaining meat sauce. Sprinkle the remaining cheeses.

11. Cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil. Bake for another 10 minutes, or until the top layer of cheese is hot and bubbly.