Friday, October 10, 2014

Lasagna that is Meatless and Very Little Cheese.

Typically, when you hear the word "Lasagna", images of long, tender noodles holding layer upon layer of meat sauce and mixture of Italian cheeses might come to mind.  This new recipe I am going to post today is about a lasagna without meat, no typical red tomato sauce, and very little cheese indeed.  I'm writing about a vegetable lasagna, the same long, tender noodles, but instead there are layers chock full of sautéed vegetables, fresh spinach leaves and a béchamel sauce.  Béchamel is a white sauce, but since I did melt in a fair amount of shredded Parmesan cheese, it becomes an Alfredo sauce.

Even though the noodles are undercooked slightly, they will be pliable and not fall apart.  Will they cook evenly while baking?  Yes!  The sauce, plus natural liquid from the vegetables, will finish cooking the noodles; they will be tender and absorb flavors of both the sauce and the vegetables.  The Alfredo sauce allows the vegetables to retain their individual flavors and truly enhances them.

Vegetable Lasagna Rustico


For the Lasagna Filling:

12 Lasagna Noodles (full size, not the no-cook variety)
¼ cup olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 green bell pepper, julienned
½ lb. shredded carrots
½ sliced mushrooms
1 large zucchini, cut into ¼ inch slices
1 large yellow squash, cut into ¼ inch slices
2 Tbsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp Italian herbal mix
½ lb. spinach leaves; divided into 1/3 portions
5 cups Alfredo sauce

For the Alfredo Sauce:


8 Tbsp. butter
8 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
6 cups hot milk
1 (8 oz.) package shredded Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg


Prepare noodles according to package direction, but undercook by 5 minutes to leave the noodles pliable.

Prepare the Alfredo sauce which should be kept warm until ready for use.  In a large saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat until melted; gradually add the flour, stirring until smooth.  Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture turns a golden brown color, about 6 to 7 minutes; this is the roux.

Add the hot milk to the butter mixture one cup at a time; whisk continuously to avoid burning or clumping. When mixture is completely smooth, add the cheese and whisk until smooth again; remove from heat; season with salt and nutmeg.


Prepare the vegetable filling; in a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat; add onions, red and green bell peppers and carrots; mix and let cook for five minutes.  Add in the mushrooms, zucchini and yellow squash; mix and let cook for five minutes.  Mix in garlic and Italian herbal mixture; remove from heat.

 Preheat oven to 375F and lightly spray a 4-quart baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.


Begin the layering process: one cup sauce spread over bottom of baking dish; three noodles alongside each other; one third of the vegetables from the skillet spread over the noodles; one third of the spinach leaves spread over the vegetables; three noodles; one cup sauce spread over the noodles; lastly top with remaining two cups of sauce.

-        Or  -

One Cup Sauce
3 Noodles
1/3 Vegetables
1/3 Spinach Leaves
3 Noodles
One Cup Sauce
1/3 Vegetables
1/3 Spinach Leaves
3 Noodles
One Cup Sauce
1/3 Vegetables
1/3 Spinach Leaves
3 Noodles
Top with remaining two cups of sauce.


Bake, uncovered, for 40-45 minutes; until golden brown.  Let rest for 20 minutes before cutting into portions.

Makes 9 servings.

After resting, the cut portions hold their shape.
Mary Cokenour