Meatless recipe #3. This is going to be a quick one because I am deep in the throes of the reviewing the new CHEST guidelines tonight. I'm on the docket to give a presentation over them next Tuesday, and it is quite the document to digest :)
Don't let my brief nature tonight detract from this recipe. In Cook's Illustrated style, this recipe has quite the list of instructions (kind of like my guidelines!). This is the recipe I had in mind when I mentioned that not all my meatless recipes would be quick. Nonetheless, each and every step is worth it. CI's steps are always worth it.
I can state that this is one of the best behaving vegetable lasagnas that I have tried. Vegetables cooked perfectly. No extra liquid. With the cream and the cheese, it's not the healthiest vegetable lasagna I've seen, but how many people really look to lasagna when they're trying to cook healthier. At least this one has some veggies :)
'Best.' It is quite the title. This is not my word, but theirs. Give it a shot and see if you agree. Enjoy!
Best Vegetable Lasagna
Cook's Illustrated Sept.-Oct. 2011
No-Cook Tomato Sauce:
1 (28oz) can crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
No-Cook Cream Sauce:
4 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated (2 cups)
1 cup whole milk cottage cheese
1 cup heavy cream
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1-1/2 lbs. eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 7 cups)
Kosher salt and pepper
1 lb. zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (4 cups)
1 lb. yellow squash, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (4 cups)
5 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. minced fresh thyme
12 oz. baby spinach (12 cups)
12 no-boil whole wheat lasagna noodles
1/2 cup minced pitted kalamata olives
12 oz. low-moisture whole-milk mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 3 cups)
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
For the tomato sauce, whisk all ingredients together in a bowl. Set aside.
For the cream sauce, whisk all ingredients together in a bowl. Set aside.
For the filling, adjust the oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Toss eggplant with 1 teaspoon salt in large bowl. Place a double-layer of coffee filters or paper towels on a plate and lightly spray with vegetable oil spray. Spread eggplant in an even layer over the plate. Microwave, uncovered, until dry to the touch and slightly shriveled, about 10 minutes, tossing once halfway through to ensure that the eggplant cooks evenly. Let cool slightly. Return eggplant to bowl and toss with zucchini and squash.
Combine 1 tablespoon oil, garlic, and thyme in a small bowl. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add half eggplant mixture, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are lightly browned, about 7 minutes. Push vegetables to sides of the skillet; add half of garlic mixture to clearing, and cook, mashing with spatula, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir to combine garlic mixture with vegetables and transfer to medium bowl. Repeat with remaining eggplant mixture, 2 tablespoons oil, and remaining garlic mixture.
Return skillet to medium-high heat, add remaining teaspoon of oil and heat until shimmering. Add spinach and cook, stirring frequently, until wilted, about 3 minutes. Transfer spinach to paper towel-lined plate and drain 2 minutes. Stir into eggplant mixture.
To assemble, spray a 9x13-inch baking dish with vegetable oil spray. Spread 1 cup tomato sauce in the bottom of the dish. Layer 4 noodles on top of the sauce. Spread half the vegetable mixture over noodles, followed by half of the olives, half of cream sauce, and 1 cup of mozzarella. Repeat layering with 4 noodles, 1 cup tomato sauce, remaining vegetables, remaining olives, remaining cream sauce, and 1 cup mozzarella. Place remaining 4 noodles on top layer of cheese. Spread remaining 1 cup tomato sauce over noodles and sprinkle with remaining 1 cup mozzarella. Lightly spray large sheet of aluminum foil with vegetable oil spray and cover lasagna. Bake until bubbling, about 35 minutes. Cool on wire rack 25 minutes. Cut into pieces, sprinkle with basil, and serve.