Monday, November 1, 2010

Meaty Grilled Vegetable Lasagna

This lasagna is crazy good!

Any (and all) of these things are delicious on their own...

Grilled zucchini.
Spicy Italian sausage.
Late summer tomato sauce.
Sauteed spinach.
Sauteed mushrooms.
Caramelized onions.

All together? Baked till bubbly? Wow....YUM!

Here's how you can make it.


1 pound good quality ground beef, browned
1 pound hot (or not) Italian sausage, browned and drained
8 oz mushrooms, sliced and sauteed with olive oil (I used baby bellas)
1 pound No-boil lasagne noodles (you won't need them all)
32 oz tomato sauce (I used my homemade tomato basil sauce...any good jarred sauce could work)
1 package of baby spinach, sauteed with olive oil then drained
3 onions, sliced and carmelized
4-5 medium zucchini (or summer squash) sliced longways and grilled
mozzarella cheese
ricotta cheese (I mixed in chopped basil just to gild the lily)

Ok, so I'm going to do my best to recreate the recipe here. I tend to cook on the fly, adding and omitting ingredients at the drop of a hat. It's what I do. Can't help it. I've been a professional chef for over a decade, but that doesn't mean I can actually take pen to paper (finger to keyboard) and write a recipe exactly the same way. Pretty darn close...

If you know your way around a kitchen, I think you'll catch my drift with this recipe. Sorry that I don't explain every step. But it is so good!

It seems like a lot of adavnce prep (and it is) but here's how you can think like a chef. Many of these things make excellent ingredients for other meals in your weekly meal planning. Caramelized onions? I do them by the VAT. They are so handy and pack a savory flavor punch! They are amazing on pizza, in sandwiches, sprinkled on a salad with crumbled blue cheese, mixed into mashed potatoes, topping a burger, and let's not forget to mention eaten on a piece of torn baguette while standing at the stove, cooking your family a meaty lasagne. What else could you make extra of? Well, you could cook extra beef and use it for tacos the next day. You get the idea.

But back to the lasagna...

1. Once the onions have been caramelized, the zucchini has been grilled, the meats have been browned, the spinach and mushrooms have been sauteed bring out all the other players in your lasagna construction. I like to use the set of glass prep bowls I've had for ages, but your kids cereal bowls also make great places to hold the prepped ingredients. Hey, your mis-en-place is ready! (That's fancy chef-talk for having your ingredients ready to go right in front of you).

2. Start building your lasagna. I assume by this point you have brought out your big baking dish, suitably deep. I use my big pyrex baker, but you can use any big oven safe dish...especially if your mom is coming to dinner and you want to bring the dish to the table for a nice wow factor. Remember, you can keep stacking and go as high as you want with this meaty stack of vegetables and noodles as long as it won't go over the side. Only have a cookie sheet? Get thee to the store! Big pyrex dish? Let's get cookin'!

3. I start with a layer of sauce and the ground beef. Next comes a layer of noodles. Ricotta. Sauce. Zucchini. Onions. Noodles. Mushrooms. Spinach. Noodles. Zucchini. Sausage. Sauce. Ricotta. Sauce. Mozzarella. I plopped the extra ricotta I had on top with the mozzarella. You could if you want. If you used all the ricotta in the earlier layers, don't sweat it.

4. Everything in? Pop it in the oven at 350 for about an hour. You'll know it is ready when the cheese is lightly browned and melted and the sauce is bubbling up. Be sure to let it cool down before you dig in, at least 15 minutes. Believe me, it will stay very hot in that dish. Go ahead, make a salad. Take a break. Dinner is ready, it is delicious and hopefully you'll have leftovers.