Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A day off - Vegetarian Lasagna - Orange Scented Chocolate Cheesecake

Hey there. Hi there. Ho there. It's me. Thought I would drop in and say hi to any followers who might still be following me. :)

I had a day off today. A day off  from my house cleaning business and a day off from Starbucks. That meant I could sleep in and play in my kitchen. Playing in my kitchen makes me happy. In fact, playing in my kitchen makes me very happy. I knew ahead of time that I would have today off and had chosen a couple of recipes I wanted to try. One was for my Chocolate with Francois group and the other one was a practice run of an all vegetable lasagna. My beautiful daughter-in-law, who is pregnant with my first grand-child, is a Vegetarian. I am getting together next week with her and my son, my daughter and her hubby and we are going to have dinner together and play Quelf, a really fun board game. It will probably be the last time we can all get together before Baby Gulla is born. I plan on baking a pan of the vegetable lasagna and putting it in the freezer so that Sean and Katey have something they can just heat up and eat when they come home from the hospital with the baby. At least one night they won't have to worry about cooking dinner. :)

So, today I decided I would make a vegetable lasagna that I had come across a recipe for. It's from Italian Food Forever and it sounded easy and yummy. I even made the home-made sauce she links to. I used my submersible blender so that there wouldn't be chunks of tomatoes but kept to the basic sauce recipe.

I also bought my lasagna noodles. I do have a pasta roller, but I use it for my cake decorating business. Besides, I was more interested in what was going between the noodles rather than the noodles themselves. The recipe suggests using eggplant, roasted red peppers, fennel, and onions. I could not find fennel anywhere (and should confess here that I wouldn't know fennel if I bumped into it) so I decided to go with zucchini, eggplant, red peppers and onion. Knowing my hubby and his "it has to have meat or it isn't dinner" attitude, I bought some "Gimme Lean" sausage style veggie protein. I know, it isn't meat, but, I wanted to see if he would even notice.

I also cheated by buying roasted red peppers in a jar. I could have roasted some, but, I don't have a gas stove, it's electric. I do have a gas grill, but hated to crank it up to roast three red peppers. Thus, the jar of already roasted peppers.

I made the sauce first. It was super easy. Heat up some oil, drop in some minced garlic, pour in diced Italian style tomatoes, bring to a boil, lower heat, add salt and pepper and fresh chopped basil. And, any other spices or seasoning you would like. Super easy and really good.

I worked on the veggies next. Sliced the eggplant, brushed it with olive oil and grilled it under the broiler. Sauteed the onions till they were soft and light brown. Sliced the zucchini and sauteed that up. Fried the "sausage". Drained the roasted red peppers. Once I had all the ingredients cooked and on separate plates I began to assemble the lasagna.

A little sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. A layer of noodles. A little more sauce. Some "sausage", cheese and eggplant. Cover with noodles. Sauce. "Sausage". Cheese. Roasted red peppers. Noodles. Sauce. "Sausage". Cheese. Onion. Final layer noodles, sauce, "sausage", cheese, zucchini. Last layer of noodles, a little more sauce and a good amount of cheese. Covered the whole thing with foil and put it in a 375 degree oven and baked it for 45 minutes. The recipe on Italian Food Forever doesn't call for covering the dish with foil and it bakes for a shorter time, but I think that's because the noodles are fresh made rather than boxed.

The lasagna smelled fabulous while it was baking and looked wonderful when I took it out of the oven. I let it set for about 20 minutes before cutting and plating it.

I loved it!! So many flavors blending together. It was not greasy or overly heavy like some lasagnas can be. The vegetables were soft but not mushy. There was just enough sauce, not overpowering the dish or drowning the noodles, but just enough to enhance the flavors of the veggies and bind the noodles, cheese and veggies together. What was even better was that the hubby also loved it! At one point he asked about the ingredients, wanted to know if it was all veggies, besides the sausage. It was then that I told him the truth about the "sausage". He shrugged and kept eating. Success!!

Even if you aren't a Vegetarian, you should try this lasagna. Trust me when I say you won't miss the meat that's not in it. Or the ricotta cheese that's not in it. Or the eggs. Just roast or grill some veggies. Layer them with some shredded Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. A little sauce and you are good to go. :)

In the title of this post I mention an Orange Scented Chocolate Cheesecake. That recipe is from my CWF group and it is my pick for the month of June. According to the rules of our group, I am afraid I can't post my review until the 30th of June. But, trust me (again) when I say you need to come back at the end of June and get the recipe for it. Wonderful! Light yet rich. Orange and chocolate flavors blending together. A tender, sandy, sable' crust. The cheesecake baked up tall and beautiful. I really liked it. The hubby thought it was okay. He said I have made better cheesecakes before. However, he is not a big orange/chocolate combination fan. Guess you will have the try the recipe and decide for yourself.

I will be back on the 30th of this month, if not before, to post the latest CWF review...Chocolate Tiramisu. This was unbelievably delicious! I kid you not when I say that the 11/2 quart bowl I made lasted just over two days. And, there were only two of us here to eat it. :] You can find that recipe at Seattle Pastry Girl's blog. It's worth the effort. Trust me. :)


6 comments:

  1. Wonderful lasagne and wonderful cheesecake Susan !

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  2. Wow you were busy! The lasagne looks delicious. Can't wait to make the cheesecake!

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  3. Wowee, a day off and you accomplish all of this-I'm impressed. Veggie lasagna is my favorite and yours looks incredible. Now I can't wait to do the cheesecake and your tiramisu looks absolutely decadent .

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  4. Oh, Susan! My veggie heart loves you even more than usual for the beautiful lasagna you made - and you used one of my all-time favorite fake meats in it!! I wish I could've eaten some of that dish - it looks positively mouthwatering! You have contributed greatly to the awesomeness of vegetarian cuisine.

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  5. Yumm! delicious feast for the eyes too!!

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Please let me know what you think. I love to hear from other bakers.