Friday, July 15, 2011

"Loaf Pan Lasagna" with Cottage Cheese & Spinach

The one thing that I don't like about making lasagna for our small family of 3 is that half of it goes to waste. I do love leftovers but somehow they always get pushed to the back of the fridge, forgotten about until cleaning day. And that doesn't end well.
I tried a new thing yesterday - making mini lasagnas in the meat loaf pan. I am not the first person to do this but for some reason it had never occurred to me before - it's magical! Half the cooking time and one pan equals one dinner for a small family. This recipe makes two loaf pan sized lasagnas so eat one tonight and freeze the other for a rainy day.

Now I know some people have a thing against cottage cheese so you can easily substitute ricotta in this recipe if you must...

Ingredients & Prep - Makes 2 loaf pans. Each serves approx. 2 adults & 2 kids with small appetites.  Recipe adapted from the meatier version on the blog Hogwash.

  • 2 cups 2% cottage cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • dried basil
  • dried oregano
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • fresh minced garlic to taste
  • 3-4 cups marinara sauce
  • 2 cups frozen shredded spinach, thawed (I like to use frozen spinach because once you microwave it to thaw, you can easily squeeze the excess water out and it removes that pesky task of washing, chopping, stemming, cooking the fresh stuff).
  • 2 1/2 cups of mozzarella, shredded
  • 1 box no bake lasagna noodles.  Try to get the flat edge lasagna noodles that are smaller than traditional noodles. I like to use the Garofalo brand. They look like the noodles in the picture below. Perfect for a loaf sized pan.

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Whisk the eggs to blend in a mixing bowl, and season with basil, oregano, garlic, salt and freshly ground pepper. Stir in cottage cheese, and set aside.
3. Thaw the spinach and squeeze out excess water.
4. Spread 1/4 cup of the marinara sauce on the bottom of each of two loaf pans. Add a sheet of pasta to each, followed by another 1/4 cup sauce, 2/3 cup of the spinach, and 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella. Next, add another sheet of pasta, followed by 1/2 cup of the cottage cheese mixture. (It will be slightly runny, that’s okay.) Top each with another noodle, then 1/4 cup sauce, and divide the remaining spinach between the two pans. Top each spinach layer with another 1/4 cup mozzarella, then a sheet of pasta, and divide the remaining cottage cheese mixture between the two pans. Finally, top the cottage cheese with the last of the pasta. Divide the remaining sauce over the noodles, spreading it to cover them all the way to the edges. Sprinkle each with about 1/2 cup mozzarella.
5. Cover each pan tightly with foil, and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil, and bake another 15 minutes uncovered, until cheese is melted and beginning to brown. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.
6. To freeze cooked lasagna, let cool to room temperature, then cover the top with foil, wrap in plastic, and freeze up to 2 months. Transfer to refrigerator 24 hours before baking, with foil on top, for 20 to 30 minutes at 350F, or until hot all the way through.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Stacked Caprese Salad

Hands down these are my favourite individual salads to make especially for a group of people if you are trying to be a little fancy but don't have much time! They look so nice on a dining table if plated on a white plate with a drizzle of good quality, rich olive oil.

I picked up some gorgeous vine tomatoes the other day and knew I had to make these for dinner. One thing I find harder to find is fresh mozzarella. Where I live there aren't too many specialty cheese boutiques so I make do with the fresh mozzarella at the grocery store. Still yummy but not quite the same. Keep in mind, this cheese is the soft, round cheese packed in water not the ball of firm mozzarella.

Ingredients & Prep: Serves 4
  • 1 ball fresh mozzarella
  • 4 vine ripened tomatoes
  • bunch of fresh basil
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
Wash and slice the tomatoes into equal sized pieces.  Arrange on salad plates alternating mozzarella and basil. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil. Allow guests to add salt if they prefer and offer fresh ground pepper at the table.

13 Bean Soup

I love Bob's Red Mill products and like to try as many different things in their line as I can.  I bought this soup mix thinking it was an all-in-one mix with stock/flavouring etc. but turns out it was just the beans - 13 types of beans, but still just beans (and a few lentils).

As instructed on the package, I soaked the beans overnight and for most of the next day to get them a little softer. I drained and rinsed the beans and then boiled them for 3 hours on low with 2 1/2 quarts of water and 2 chicken bouillon cubes.  Once they were quite soft I added more water to thin out the soup, tomato paste, garlic, onion, salt & pepper and the juice of 1/2 a large lemon.

Overall, the bean mix made a great starting point for this soup.  If you are looking for a way to get more fibre into your diet and/or a vegetarian source of protein, this is the way to go (but use vegetable bouillon instead!).

Ingredients: Serves 6-8
  • 2 cups mixed beans
  • 2 1/2 quarts water
  • 2 bouillon cubes
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 15 oz can tomato paste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • juice of 1/2 large lemon