Mary Anne here. This week, in honor of Meatless Mondays, I offer another recipe that stems from my love for feeding my grandson, “The Manster.”
On Saturday morning I awoke with visions of the little guy dancing in my head, so I dreamily debated what delights to whip up for him this week. Lying in my bed, I thought about the foods he loves best – like Mariel’s Pumpkin Lasagna, my recent Mushroom Quiche, our Penne with Mozzarella and Eggplant, the incredible, edible, quick-to-the-table- Pesto-Parmesan Meatballs…
The little fellow chows down heartily on many-a-man-sized portion from our Feast on the Cheap repertoire, alongside a healthy serving of diced veggies and fresh fruit for dessert. No sweets like ice cream quite yet, but this boy is a cookin’-mama’s dream. Seriously!
I realize the lasagna I’ve conjured up might seem a bit pricey, but when I compared it to similar products – primarily frozen and organic – my dish is far cheaper. In comparing costs, Amy’s frozen veggie lasagna commands a whopping $4.29 for a single adult-size serving. Do the math and that equates to $51.48 for a full tray of lasagna to feed 12. My arguably “rich” (Fontina…wild ‘shrooms…) rendition is a mere $24.42 to serve 12 and can easily be further reduced cost-wise by swapping out those portabellos for white buttons and using mozzarella in lieu of Fontina.
No matter your budget, this dish is a definite crowd-pleaser, and more importantly, a healthful, child-friendly meal guaranteed to garner a hug or two!
Vegetarian Lasagna with Spinach, Sweet Potatoes, and Fontina Cheese
Whole wheat lasagna noodles (12 oz.) – $2.19
1 lb. sweet potato, peeled and cut into medium dice – $1.23
2 Tablespoons olive oil – stock
1 large Vidalia or sweet onion, diced – $1.19
1 ½ lbs. assorted mushrooms, sliced (I used domestic and portabello) – $4.89
3 cloves garlic, minced – stock
14 oz. can of crushed tomatoes in puree – $0.99
½ cup red wine – stock
¼ Teaspoon ground nutmeg – stock
½ Teaspoon ground ginger – stock
1/3 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped – $0.99
2 eggs, lightly beaten – stock
32 oz. part-skim ricotta cheese – $4.19
2-10 oz. packages frozen chopped spinach, cooked and squeezed dry – $2.67
½ cup grated Parmesan plus a handful to sprinkle at the end – stock
salt and pepper, to taste
½ lb. part-skim mozzarella, grated – $2.09
½ lb. Fontina cheese, grated – $3.99
Grand Total Assuming a Well-Stocked Pantry: $24.42
Total Per Serving: $2.00
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray the bottom and sides of a lasagna casserole with Pam or similar product.
2. Cook the lasagna noodles according to package directions. Drain in a large colander and lay the noodles on a sheet of waxed paper or tin foil.
3. Meanwhile, bring a medium size pot of water to boil. Add the diced sweet potato and cook until fork-tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
4. In a very large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high flame. Add the onions and mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently until golden, about 15 to 20 minutes.
5. Add the garlic and sauté an additional 5 minutes. Pour in the wine and tomatoes. Stir in the nutmeg and ginger and simmer, partially covered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
6. Remove from the flame and stir in the chopped parsley and cooked sweet potatoes.
7. While the veggies simmer, combine the eggs, ricotta, Parmesan, spinach, and season with salt and pepper.
8. To assemble:
• Spread a little bit of the vegetable mixture in the bottom of the lasagna pan.
• Arrange 4 of the cooked lasagna noodles length-wise in the prepared pan, overlapping them if necessary. If needed, lay a 5th noodle perpendicular to cover the entire length of the pan.
• Spread about 1/3 of the spinach/ricotta mixture over the noodles. Sprinkle about 1/3 of the grated mozzarella/Fontina mix over the ricotta.
• Top with a 1/4 of the veggie mixture. Repeat 2 more times, finishing with a larger amount of the vegetable mixture so that it covers the top.
• Sprinkle with some more grated Parmesan an cover with tin foil.
9. Bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until golden and bubbling, about an additional 25 minutes.
10. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for about 10 minutes before slicing.