Observant Catholics will be eating meatless meals for the next seven Fridays. Details about this and other Lenten practices can be found on the American Catholic website.
Instead of automatically thinking “fish” or “pizza,” an adventurous cook can view Lent as a good time to expand his or her vegetarian culinary repertoire.
Vegetarian lasagna is on the menu for 2014’s first meatless Lenten Friday. This recipe, which is an old family favorite, can be easily adapted to meet individual vegetable preferences. Serves six.
1-2 tsp. olive oil
1 cup sliced mushrooms
2 cups zucchini or eggplant cut in rounds
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup thinly sliced onion
1 package frozen spinach, cooked and drained
4 cups fresh or bottled marinara sauce
1 (15-ounce) carton part-skim ricotta cheese
½ tsp. each basil and oregano
1 box lasagna noodles, previously cooked and kept warm
1 small package (8-10-ounce) part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
Preheat oven to 375º F.
Add oil to frying pan and heat
Add mushrooms, zucchini or eggplant rounds, the bell pepper and onion. Sauté for about 8 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender, stirring often
Combine egg, ricotta cheese and spices in a medium size bowl
Heat marinara sauce
Coat the bottom of a 9 x 11 inch baking dish with cooking spray and then pour about ¾ cup of marinara sauce on the bottom of the dish. Lay noodles over the sauce.
Begin building the lasagna by alternating noodles, cheese and egg mixture, sauce, vegetables and spinach, in that order Finish layering with noodles on the top. Cover top layer of noodles with marinara sauce and shredded mozzarella cheese.
Cover and bake for 45 minutes. Let stand 10-15 minutes before serving.
Serve with Italian bread and a green salad.
If this vegetable lasagna makes giving up meat too easy, make a Lenten sacrifice and eat only half a portion.
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