Discovery of the day: Italian Layered Vegetable Casserole

You might be surprised to learn I did cook during my hiatus. Not a lot, but I did add a few new recipes to my repertoire. Take, for example, this Italian Layered Vegetable Casserole from Susan V's Fat-Free Vegan Kitchen. With all the slicing and dicing it doesn't quite qualify for Project Weeknight, but it's definitely worth doing.

It's pretty much lasagna with sliced veggies (eggplant & zucchini) instead of noodles. The recipe as written uses a creamy bean filling, but Susan notes that it wasn't as well-received as the tofu filling from her lasagna recipe. I'm not terribly concerned with being either fat-free or vegan so I subbed ricotta for the tofu and we were pretty pleased.

The only other mod I made was to omit the sugar from the tomato sauce and throw in just a 1/4 teaspoon or so of baking soda. I can't remember where I learned this trick - maybe from my SO? - but it knocks the acidity of tomato sauce right down. It's a little scary to watch your sauce foam up, but it's kind of fun too.

The thing I most appreciated about this recipe was her tutorial on how to pre-cook the eggplant slices in the microwave. I don't cook with eggplant often because, frankly, it intimidates me. But even I can overcome my fears to throw the eggplant slices in the microwave for 8-10 minutes.

To summarize, I used a good-sized eggplant, about 3 cups of sliced zucchini, and the sauce (omitting sugar, adding 1/4 teaspoon baking soda), along with her tofu filling (subbing 1 pound ricotta for tofu). Any marinara sauce and ricotta lasagna filling recipe will do, really.

Oh, and by the way, when a recipe calls for putting hot stuff from a saucepan into a blender or food processor, just say no. Please. Simply hit it with your trusty stick blender and save yourself from another large piece of kitchen equipment to clean. Seriously, a stick blender can be used in most instances. Just watch for splatters.

Hey, it feels good to be back.

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