|This vegetarian lasagna with kale may not be that photogenic, but it was delicious!|
Recently I was having lunch with some blogging friends and we started talking about casseroles. We all agreed that casseroles can be delicious and family-friendly, but they're also very hard to photograph! I think lasagna may be at the top of the hard-to-photograph list, but this Vegetarian Lasagna with Kale and Mushroom-Tomato Sauce was so delicious I had to put some in the freezer right away so I didn't eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner until it was gone. You may think I'm turning into the Kale Whisperer, because this year I've used kale in a Kale and Feta Breakfast Casserole, my new favorite pasta dish, and Kale and Romaine Caesar Salad. Yes, I do love kale, but if you're not a kale fan you can try this lasagna recipe with Swiss chard, collard greens, or spinach substituted for the kale.
I'm proud to say that so far I'm doing well on my goal of posting a meatless recipe every Sunday so it's ready for people who want ideas for Meatless Monday. You can find more meatless recipes by using the label Meatless Monday or checking Vegetarian Recipes in the recipe index. For Meatless Monday ideas from other bloggers, check Meatless Monday at BlogHer, where I write a weekly post spotlighting one of the fabulous meatless recipe ideas I find around the web.
Heat oil and saute the onions about 3 minutes; add the garlic, mushrooms, ground fennel, and dried basil and continue to cook until the mushrooms have released their liquid and the liquid is evaporated, about 5 minutes more.
While the mushrooms are cooking, cut up 4 cups of finely chopped kale. Blanch the kale 3 minutes in boiling salted water; then let it drain well and cool.
When the mushroom water has evaporated, add 2 1/2 cups vegetarian marinara sauce and 1/3 cup water to the mushroom mixture, turn heat to low, and simmer 15 minutes.
While the kale cools, stir together 2 cups low-fat cottage cheese, 3 eggs, and 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan. When the kale is cool, stir it into this mixture.
If you're a South Beach Diet fan you might be wondering how I make diet-friendly lasagna, but it's partly the Dreamfields low carb Lasagna noodles that make this recipe South Beach friendly. Lately I'm having a hard time finding them, but you can use whole wheat lasagna if you can't find Dreamfields. Spray a 9X12 inch dish with nonstick spray and then lay 3 uncooked lasagna noodles across the bottom.
Then add half the cottage cheese, egg, Parmesan, and Kale mixture. Use a rubber scraper to spread it around.
Then sprinkle over 1 cup low-fat mozzarella or other low-fat white cheese. (I used a four cheese blend of low-fat cheeses.)
Repeat with another layer of noodles, mushroom-tomato sauce, cottage cheese and kale mixture, and cheese.
Since you're starting with dry noodles it's very important to cover the dish with foil for the first 50-60 minutes of cooking.
I cut this into 8 servings, and here's my lunch on the day I made the lasagna! That's a small salad plate, but it was a generous lunch for me.
(Makes 8 servings; recipe created by Kalyn)
1 T olive oil
1/2 large onion, chopped small
6 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
8 oz. brown mushrooms, chopped small (I used Baby Bella crimini mushrooms, but you could use white mushrooms)
1 tsp. ground fennel
1 tsp. dried basil
2 1/2 cups vegetarian marinara sauce (I didn't have any homemade sauce, so I used Classico Tomato Basil sauce which was the lowest-sugar sauce I could find)
1/3 cup water (rinse out the jar or pasta sauce container)
4 cups finely chopped fresh kale, blanched 3 minutes in boiling salted water (see note below about using other greens)
2 cups low-fat cottage cheese
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
6 uncooked lasagna noodles (use Dreamfields or whole wheat lasagna for South Beach Diet)
2 cups low-fat Mozzarella or other low-fat white cheese (I used a low-fat four cheese blend)
Preheat oven to 375F/190C. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy frying pan over medium heat; add onions and saute until they start to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the chopped garlic, chopped mushrooms, ground fennel, and dried basil and saute about 5 minutes more, or until the mushrooms lose their water and the liquid has evaporated. Add the vegetarian marinara sauce and water (rinsing out the sauce container with the water) and turn heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.
While the sauce simmers, bring a pot of generously salted water to a boil to blanch the kale. Chop the kale and wash if needed. (If you have large kale leaves from the store you'll need to cut away the center ribs, then stack up the kale leaves and thinly slice one direction and then turn cutting board and slice in the other direction.) Add the chopped kale to the boiling salted water and cook 3 minutes, then pour into a colander placed in the sink. Let the kale drain well and cool at least 5 minutes.
While kale is cooling, mix together the cottage cheese, beaten eggs, and finely grated Parmesan. Add cooled kale and stir together.
Spray a 9 inch X 12 inch lasagna dish with nonstick spray. Lay 3 uncooked lasagna noodles across the dish. Cover with 1/2 the mushroom tomato sauce, spreading it across the noodles so they're all covered with sauce. Then add 1/2 the cottage cheese and kale mixture, spreading it out with a rubber scraper, and sprinkle over 1 cup of the grated low-fat Mozzarella. Make a second layer of lasagna noodles, tomato-mushroom sauce, cottage cheese and kale mixture, and cheese.
Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake 50-60 minutes without removing the foil. Take the dish out of the oven and remove foil. (I used a toothpick to check and see if the noodles were fairly soft at this point. If they aren't I would cook a few more minutes with the foil on.) Cook 25-30 minutes more with foil removed, or until the lasagna noodles are soft, and the lasagna is bubbling and lightly browned on top. Let lasagna cool 5-10 minutes before cutting; then cut into pieces and serve hot.
This lasagna freezes well. To reheat, thaw in microwave on low for 1-2 minutes, then heat on high for 2-3 minutes or until the lasagna is hot. (You can also thaw it overnight in the refrigerator and heat in a covered casserole dish in the oven toaster oven.
To make with other greens:
If you don't want to use kale you could substitute swiss chard, collard greens, or spinach in this recipe. All of those are "softer" in texture than kale (especially spinach) so I would blanch the greens for a shorter time, maybe as little as 1 minute for spinach.
South Beach Suggestions:
Using low-carb or whole wheat lasagna noodles and only a moderate amount of low-fat cheese and low-fat cottage cheese makes this recipe suitable for phase 2 or 3 of the South Beach Diet. I might consider it a "once-in-a-while-treat" for phase 2 if you're actively trying to lose weight, but it would certainly be okay to enjoy occasionally.
More Tasty Ideas for Meatless Lasagna:
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Vegetarian Lasagna with Quick-Roasted Tomato, Garlic, and Herb Sauce from Kalyn's Kitchen
Gluten-Free Roasted Vegetable Lasagna from Gluten-Free Goddess
The Best Vegetable Lasagna from Kath Eats Real Food
Spinach and Basil Lasagna from Andrea Meyers
Three-Cheese Pesto Vegetable Lasagna from Ms. Adventures in Italy
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)