Photo and column by Lindsay Kucera/The AS Review
Trust me, lasagna is a dish to love, not to fear. I like to think I am not afraid to try making new things, but I admit I was nervous about making lasagna—it looked so fancy and difficult.
It has also been part of my mother’s culinary dynasty for a while, something she put together using flat noodles and sorcery. I think now, however, I have a chance of overthrowing her and taking the throne. This lasagna is vegetarian and deceivingly easy to make. The only difficult part is finding a baking pan that fits the noodles. If you can’t, the struggle turns into devising a way to keep the lasagna from slipping into a landslide. Otherwise, it’s simple: layer, bake and devour. So ladies and gentlemen, let’s talk lasagna.
Makes: One 11-by-7-by-2-inch lasagna
9-12 uncooked lasagna noodles
2-3 cups pasta sauce
1 cup canned diced tomatoes, drained
2 cups fresh baby spinach
1/2 cup red bell peppers, chopped
1/2 cup onions, chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 cup zucchini squash, chopped
1/2 cup black olives, finely chopped
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, finely chopped
1 cup feta cheese
1-2 cups mozzarella cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste
Directions: Start out by coating the pan with non-stick cooking spray and setting it aside. In a small frying pan, sauté the peppers, onions, garlic and zucchini in olive oil until cooked through, which takes about seven minutes. Then, spread a layer of pasta sauce on the bottom of the pan, followed by a layer of the noodles, three or four as needed to coat the bottom and then add another layer of sauce. Yes, the sauce on the bottom seems silly, but without it your noodles will bake dry and taste awful, so do what I say! Follow this with half of the spinach, canned diced tomatoes and half of the red pepper mixture in layers over the sauce. Sprinkle with half of each of the olives and generous amounts of both cheeses. Top with another layer of noodles, sauce, spinach, tomatoes, red pepper mix, olives and cheeses. Add one more layer of noodles and top generously with sauce. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake at 350 F for 50-55 minutes. Remove the tin foil and top liberally with mozzarella. Bake for an additional five minutes or until the cheese is melting and starting to lightly brown.