Do you know how many vegetables you can hide in lasagna? Many, many…is the correct answer. I used to make things like this all the time so that my kids wouldn’t die from malnutrition and so that I didn’t have to listen to their long litany of lists of vegetables they didn’t like. Turnips, for instance. My mother in law once cooked us a liver and onion and turnip meal which my daughter described as a child’s nightmare supper. I thought it was delicious. My kids did not inherit my taste buds. They had to develop them, with a little help from their devious mother. Now of course there is no need to disguise these gorgeous vegetables but I continue to do it anyway just because I can.
Come to think of it, this also works well for spouses who still think the only vegetables worth preparing are canned kernel corn and mashed potatoes. Yes, I married one of those. Now he eats a much wider variety than he knows or even suspects. Spaghetti sauce and chile and cream soups are other clever places to load up with vegetables.
But yesterday it was a New Years Eve lasagna surprise that satisfied my creative vegetable hiding urges. There’s white onion and garlic cloves in the chopper, with yellow, red, and green peppers, celery, zucchini and bok choi waiting their turn. Sometimes I add a carrot or a parsnip. Really, just about anything goes.
Because this is what it looks like simmering away in browned lean ground beef and a jar of chunky vegetable tomato sauce. I call this death by vegetables. I don’t really, but this picture makes it look like it a big pot of God only knows what. At this stage I added some vegetable and roasted red pepper seasoning and salt and pepper.
Okay! I use the oven ready noodles that don’t have to be boiled. I can’t find them in gluten-free but I figure all that other good stuff cancels out their badness. I am very skilled at rationalization when it suits me. One layer of the lasagna is beaten eggs mixed with cottage (or ricotta) cheese and lots of chopped spinach. I buy big bags of fresh spinach and freeze them. The frozen spinach is easy to crush and crumble so it takes up less space and works great in smoothies. Or in any kind of hidden vegetable concoction.
I think the layers went something like this. Sauce, noodles, cottage cheese mixture, noodles, sauce, Parmesan cheese, noodles, sauce, two full bags of grated Italian mix cheese (mostly mozzarella). This of course makes a pan so close to over flowing that you have to rummage around for a big cookie sheet to place it on when you bake it (covered with foil at 350 for about an hour) because otherwise it will bubble over and then you’ll have to clean your oven, and nobody wants that.
I have a recipe for lasagna that substitutes steamed cabbage leaves for the noodles. Doesn’t that sound amazing? One gigantic unrolled cabbage roll! But that’s a bit too much of an experiment if you’re having company, even for me. I’ll save it for W, even though I know already he’ll be less than impressed. Unless I throw in a can of corn.
I used the broiler to brown the cheese. There’s nothing like hot bubbly browned cheese to camouflage whatever disaster lurks beneath.
Of course I didn’t take a picture of the uncut perfection and of course mine was the only slice that fell to pieces on the plate. The salad came from a bag and included cranberries and pumpkin seeds and some other strange but delicious green things.
There was enough left over for our daughter to take home (and possibly feed her dog for a week). But it was pretty good, so the dog might be out of luck.
It was a good last supper for the last day of last year. Today I’m going to use my homemade chicken stock and make my first vegetable soup of 2015. It may or may not contain turnips. No one but me will ever know.