Thursday, February 19, 2015

Pepper, Spinach and Cheese Lasagna

A delicious and easy recipe for lasagna that can be modified and adapted to suit your needs and your tastes.  I made it with roasted peppers and spinach, but you can change those up to pretty much any vegetable you like (eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms etc.).

To save time and effort, I didn't bother making a proper tomato sauce, using good quality crushed tomatoes as they are. The flavors and seasoning from the cheese and the vegetables were more than enough.

To make it gluten free, just use gluten free lasagna. You could probably also make a vegan version by replacing the cheese layer with some baked beans or something similar. 

Pepper, Spinach and Cheese Lasagna

Ingredients (for 4-6 portions): 
 - 1 package of non-cook lasagna noodles (you may not need the whole package, but good to have one in hand)
-  1-2 bell peppers (or pre-roasted peppers)
- 1 package fresh spinach (or a small package of frozen spinach, defrosted and sieved)
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1-2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 small can (400 grams) of good quality crushed tomatoes
- 1 container of cottage cheese
- 1 container of soft white cheese, low fat cream cheese, or plain Greek yogurt
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup grated cheddar, mozzarella or other cheese of your choice + a few handfuls for topping.
- Salt, pepper, oregano, garlic powder.

1. Roast the peppers (you can skip this and put fresh pepper slices instead, but I think this tastes better):  Cut the peppers into several large pieces, getting rid of the ribs and seeds. Place them skin up in a baking dish, and place in a hot oven or under a broiler until the skin is charred and cracking. Take out the over and allow to cool down. Peel the skin off as best you can (don't worry if some skin is left over).

2. Prepare the spinach: heat the olive oil in a large pan on medium heat. Add the garlic and saute until lightly golden. Add the spinach, stir and allow to wilt (if fresh). Take off heat.

3. Preheat oven to 350 F/180 C. Combine the cheese mixture: put the egg, the cottage cheese, the white cheese, and 1/2 cup of grated cheese in a bowl and stir well. Season with salt, pepper, oregano, garlic powder and any other Italian-style seasonings you enjoy.

4. Put the lasagna together: take a smallish lasagna dish, and coat the bottom of it with a few tbsp of crushed tomatoes (this should be a thin coating, not a big layer, so about 1/4 of the total amount of tomatoes). Place a few lasagna leaves on the tomatoes, to cover the dish. Top with a layer of the cheese mixture, then arrange a few pieces of pepper and some of the spinach, so that most of the area of the lasagna has some vegetable on it. Top with a few more tablespoons of tomato sauce (another 1/4), and sprinkle with a bit more grated cheese.  Add another layer of lasagna leaves, and repeat the process one more time. Top with one more layer of lasagna leaves, and coat these with the rest of the tomatoes (1/2 of the can), and as much grated cheese as you like.

5. Cover the lasagna with tin foil, and place in a hot oven for about 40 minutes, or until a knife slices easily through the soft noodles. You can remove the tin foil and allow the lasagna to bake a little longer to get some nice browning on the cheese. 

6. Enjoy! Like most lasagna, if you slice it right away it will be soft and become a mess. If you allow it to cool down a bit, then it will settle and become easier to slice into nice pieces after reheating.

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