Monthly Archives: May 2012

A Glorious Feast: Garden Harvest Lasagna

Spoiler: A link to the best ever Vegetable Lasagna recipe can be found at the end of this post.

My teenage son became a vegetarian this winter, so I’ve been cooking more meatless dishes whenever possible, or altering my meat-containing recipes (such as soups and stews) so that I can add protein separately. For years I’ve seen recipes for zucchini lasagna and it never sounded very exciting to me, but I love vegetables and want to find new ways to use them in meals other than the usual sauteed or steamed side dishes.

Ricotta ingredients

Now, in early summer when our vegetables start maturing, I usually end up with one of this, one of that, an undersized other—not enough for a complete meal’s side dish.

A recipe for homemade ricotta cheese I found through Pinterest promised to make the best tasting ricotta in about 15 minutes. That caught my attention—and imagination. Thinking back on one of my favorite vegetable pasta dishes, Pasta Primavera, I came up with my own vegetable lasagna dish that totally knocked my socks off! Not only was it one of the best lasagnas I’ve ever had, but it was easy!

I already had most of the vegetables I needed. After a quick trip to Whole Foods I also had ricotta ingredients, pasta sauce, mozzarella and lasagna noodles. I decided to try Whole Foods’ 365 brand no-cook lasagna noodles. That saved me some time right off the bat—no cooking, rinsing and keeping the noodles unstuck for my recipe.

Try it, you’ll like it!

I also found a new 365 pasta sauce I’d not seen before—Sun Dried Tomato & Basil. That turned out to be a very fortuitous choice! I have to say I LOVE this sauce. It’s so good that it tastes great cold, right out of the jar. I think it would be a fantastic dip for pizza-dough breadsticks or as a quick and easy bruschetta. It has incredible flavor, thick sauce and lots of chunks of tomato. Belissimo!

I made a double recipe of ricotta and yes, it was so quick and easy that I don’t know why I haven’t tried that before. It’s extremely fresh tasting, sweet and delicious!

I julienned the vegetables, sauteed them in olive oil until they were only slightly softened and then set up my assembly line on the kitchen island: sauce jar, raw lasagna noodles, ricotta bowl, vegetables, shredded mozzarella. I used an 8×8 Pyrex baking dish. I layered my ingredients, baked at 350 for about 45 minutes and voila, pulled the bubbling beauty from the oven.

Yum!

The vegetables were perfectly al dente, the ricotta sweet and rich, the sauce an enticing combination of flavor and texture. The pasta was cooked perfectly! My guest even spontaneously commented on how delicious and satisfying this meal turned out to be. It was SO good that I had cold leftovers for breakfast the following two mornings.

And as for my son? I had actually made this dish for him. But between his night job at Noodles & Company and spare time spent with his girlfriend, he didn’t have a chance to even try it. One of life’s little ironies! My vegetable lasagna recipe can be found here.

More soup?… this time it’s Beefed Up (or not) Mushroom Barley


12+” trout from Georgetown Lake

Spoiler: A link to my best Mushroom Barley Soup recipe can be found below.

Okay, if anyone is reading my posts (and I question that), I have to apologize for getting off the urban farming track for, once again, a soup recipe. I just can’t help myself.

I had the most amazing weekend with some girlfriends. We spent the night at a rustic cabin on five wooded acres in the Rockies. It’s near the Georgetown Cemetery and I go up there every chance I get.  On this trip I, my ghost hunting friend Callea and two ghost hunting “virgin” friends gathered to investigate the cemetery and cabin during the Super Moon and Triple Portal. The weather was amazing up there for May, very clear, warm and sunny. We couldn’t ask for better. I fished for a short time on Georgetown Lake and caught two gorgeous trout, which I brought home and cooked for dinner last night. Sunday morning we cleaned up the cabin and headed home.

It’s now Monday and I woke up this morning to chilly temperatures and rain, which is rare and very welcome in Colorado. The cooler temps and clouds make me want to cook soup for dinner. So, like I said, I can’t help myself.

Leftovers

When we have leftover steak (or chicken, turkey or pork) I tend to freeze it rather than reheat for not-so-exciting leftovers. Then later on I use it for soup, stew or green chili. Today I cleaned out the freezer and found a nice piece of frozen steak. It was marinated in one of my favorite concoctions and so decided that mushroom barley soup with beef would be on tonight’s menu.

I once read that you could call yourself a gourmet cook if you can make a delicious and satisfying meal from whatever you have on hand — no trips to the grocery store. Another confession. I am now so old (and have been cooking for most of my life) that I know what tastes good together. But I do love creating something new from what’s available. I think my hero, Thomas Edison, would have liked me. And I’m starting to wonder if this blog is really about urban farming, or simply food. Food to grow, food to cook, food to eat. Am I a foodie or an urban farmer? I think they just go together naturally. Whatever you call me, my recipe can be found here.