5.18.2011

creamy garden lasagna

Looking for a quick and healthy meal idea?
This is SO NOT IT.
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This is more like "company's coming and I want to showcase my garden veggies, plus I have extra time on my hands to make something incredible tonight". And while this white veggie lasagna is chock-full of healthy veggies, the "white" in title is, umm...not quite so healthy. But OH SO TASTY!

OK, time for the recipe. You remember, right, that I'm a throw-together kind of cook? I made this up using what I had in my fridge but if I would have had things to harvest in my garden or mushrooms on hand, those would have been in here, too.
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What's in this thing?
(Please don't rely on the ingredient photos. I was rushed and forgot to include everything.  Oops!)
- veggies...whatever your heart desires...I used eggplant, zucchini, summer squash, asparagus, vidalia onion, and red pepper.  Like I said before, mushrooms would be a good addition, as would tomatoes.  Slice and drain the tomatoes WELL if you do decide to add those.
- no-bake lasagna noodles (approximately 1-1/2 boxes)
- 3 HUGE cloves of garlic
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream (2 half-pints)
- one big glug of white wine
- 1 large container cottage cheese, small curd
- parmesan, I prefer shaved
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella
- 1 egg 
- garden herbs if you have them on hand...chives, oregano, basil
- EV olive oil for pan
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Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small saucepan, bring the cream, a big splash of wine, and 2 garlic cloves to a very gentle simmer. Cream will sneak up on you and boil over, so you have to watch it very carefully and stir often. For the garlic, while the peel is still on, place the side of your knife on the clove and give it a good, satisfying whack to crush it and break the skin, which will now easily peel right off. Just throw the cloves whole into the cream. The point of this is to infuse the cream with garlic and cook it down just a bit to thicken.

While the cream is cooking, slice the squash and eggplant into coins, roughly chop the onion (I love onion and used 3/4 of a huge vidalia), cut pepper into strips and the asparagus lengthwise.  Then, saute all in a big pan coated with olive oil JUST to soften a BIT.  Start with a big clove of garlic that has been halved, then onion, red pepper, next eggplant and squash, and finally the asparagus just for a minute. Season to taste. I always used Jane's Krazy Mixed-Up Salt.
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While the veggies are cooking, quickly mix together the cottage cheese, one egg, and about one cup of parmesan. I know the photo shows grated parm but my store was out of the shaved which I prefer.
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Now for assembly. In a large baking dish (I used my extra deep 9x13), drizzle some of the cream and spread into a thin layer. Top with noodles. I like to make sure that the noodles fit the pan exactly in one non-overlapping layer. I break those crunchy noodles to fit the pan exactly.
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Next, carefully spread 1/2 of the cottage cheese mixture on the noodles. Then arrange half of the veggies on top. Just use your hands! You'll see in the first photo below that I evenly placed the asparagus in rows but then I came to my senses and just chucked it on there for the next layer. 

Anyways, after the veggies, sprinkle with the shredded mozzarella and any chopped herbs you desire. Finally, add more of the cream sauce. And, repeat. To clarify, it should be cream, noodle, cottage, veggie, shredded, cream, noodle, cottage, veggie, shredded, cream, noodle, then end with shredded cheese, more parmesan cheese, and the rest of the cream.  Make SURE you end up with a good bit of cream to pour over the top...those no-bake noodles soak up all that liquid.  
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Lastly, bake at 350 for approximately one hour. Ovens vary...please just keep an eye on it.  Bubbling and browned=done. If I didn't have the kids breathing down my neck to dig into this, I would have topped it with my chopped herbs. Oh, well. It's still looks yummy, doesn't it?
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Our family of five ate 3/4 of the pan. My hubbie polished the rest off for lunch the next day (when it probably tasted even better!)

Let me know if you make it, OK?  Bon appetit!
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