There are a lot of lasagna recipes out there and many of them have spinach as an ingredient. I didn’t have spinach on hand but I did have mustard greens growing in my vegetable garden as of November 1, 2014. The question was would their strong, peppery, mustard flavor overpower my lasagna? I was up for the challenge. My lasagna with mustard greens is the New Food Friday Flash recipe for this month. They may not be new foods, but they are a new combination! Its red and green colors make for a festive holiday dish!
Lasagna is a great dish loved by all and there are many versions of it such as lasagna with sausage, with zucchini, with precooked noodles, with spinach noodles, with cottage cheese instead of ricotta cheese, with meatballs, and the list goes on. The problem with a basic lasagna recipe is that there is little fiber in it. Vegetable lasagnas help Americans who eat little fiber. I wanted to create lasagna with a good amount of fiber.
I had two jars of tomato meat sauce with garbanzos in it in my freezer. The reason I put garbanzos in the sauce was for when I got tired of putting the sauce on pasta. By just adding a few tablespoons of chili spice I could easily make a chili out of the garbanzo meat sauce! I did and it was wonderful! I had plans for the two remaining 8 oz jars of meat sauce with the garbanzos. They were going into my lasagna!
I went out into my vegetable garden after we had a mild frost and picked a bowl of all the baby-sized mustard greens. They looked good! I rinsed them carefully and put them in a pan with about ½ cup of water and cooked them until the water evaporated. Then I minced them. I gave them a taste expecting a strong flavor. To my surprise, there was hardly any flavor! Maybe the frost had something to do with the lack of flavor, maybe because the leaves I picked were all small, maybe my taste buds went on strike – who knows? I knew the mustard greens wouldn’t overpower my lasagna. The combination of garbanzos and mustard greens added a good amount of fiber to this dish. All the cheeses added a good amount of calcium.
8 oz of regular cooked lasagna noodles (1/2 box)
16 oz ricotta cheese
1/3 cup minced mustard greens
1 ½ cups grated parmesan cheese
8 oz mozzarella cheese sliced
2 8 oz jars of tomato meat sauce
1 cup (8 oz) tomato sauce (for bottom and top of dish)
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
salt & pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix ricotta, minced mustard greens, egg and spices until smooth.
Pour ½ cup of the 1 cup tomato sauce on bottom of an 8” x 8” baking pan. Cover sauce with a layer of cooked lasagna noodles; a layer of the ricotta mixture; a layer of the sliced mozzarella (about 9 thin slices); a layer of the meat-garbanzo sauce. Repeat until all the ingredients are used. The top layer should be your remaining ½ cup of the 1 cup of tomato sauce and the parmesan cheese. This makes a 5-layer lasagna. It weighs a ton! Bake 35 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes for easier serving. This dish stays hot for about an hour and stays warm for several hours. It slices better the next day. It serves 6.
Meat Sauce Recipe
My meat sauce recipe is never the same so I can only give you a basic recipe. I use two 32 oz cans of Dei Fratelli tomato puree. If there is a sale on Carmelina San Marzano canned tomatoes, I will substitute it with one of the Dei Fratelli cans. You can taste the difference. I don’t eat beef and instead use ground turkey and brown it the same way you would beef in a little olive oil. Sometimes I add diced carrots, celery, onions, sometime not. Usually I add one clove of minced garlic. Sometimes I add bay leaves, or dried basil leaves and/or dried oregano. Sometimes I add thyme from my garden. If I have red wine on hand, I will add ½ cup to deglaze the browned meat. Usually I add a teaspoon of sugar, ½ teaspoon salt, some black pepper, and a dash or two of cayenne. Sometimes I add a chopped Serrano pepper. The main difference this time was that I added a can of rinsed garbanzo beans. They don’t add any flavor but they are creamy in texture and high in fiber.
Note to novice cooks: I once went to a potluck where a man brought homemade lasagna. He didn’t know that there was such a thing as pre-cooked lasagna noodles and regular noodles. He bought the regular noodles and didn’t boil them first. He put them in the lasagna dish and needless to say, it ruined the dish. The noodles were hard and the dish was inedible although some did their best to eat it so as not to hurt his feelings. I wasn’t one of them! Make sure you look at the packaging. The pre-cooked noodles are less work, but you have to make sure you have a lot of sauce (extra) on hand because they absorb more liquid than regular lasagna noodles. The regular noodles have to be boiled and are slippery to work with. Sometimes they stick together so be sure to stir the pot often when they are boiling. I drained them and then rinsed them with cold water and left about ¼ cup water in the pot. I had no problems with sticking. I didn’t add any oil. I’ve used both types of noodles for lasagnas and don’t have a preference.
I divided the lasagna in portions and put three of them in the freezer for future meals. It freezes well and makes all the effort and pots worth it!
Tags: cooking, recipes,baking , vegetables, mustard greens, garbanzo beans, fiber, calcium, lasagna