I was given the opportunity to cook for a crew of 12 for 7 days, three of which were either a vegetarian, starch-free or pork intolerant (due to religion). I had no previous cooking experience but a very keen mind so naturally I said “Yes of course I will” and went out to buy my first cooking book from the best: Gordon Ramsay. I should have actually looked at the recipes before I bought it. But the pictures were so delicious that my mouth filled with spit just looking at them! Turns out the recipes were a little too complicated for my first cooking endeavor, so when it came time to begin I put his book down and picked up one of Jamie Oliver’s–who’s wasn’t much easier. When I found a recipe for Lasagna I thought of my mom; she makes the most delicious Veggie lasagna I’ve had (no one in my family is vegetarian) you can’t tell there’s no meat!. I didn’t like any other lasagna BUT hers! Once I skimmed Jamie’s recipe to make sure I had a good idea of how it worked and had all the ingredients, I put the book away and started.
Lasagna became one of my favorite things to make mostly because I get so many compliments and requests (thanks Rach) for it when I’m cooking for crew. But also because the good thing about lasagna is that the flavors aren’t specific; each layer can have it’s own flavor which can also be married into the overall taste– just like Neapolitan ice cream.
This Lasagna can be made vegetarian or carnivorous; the difference is in the sauce, and it can Also be made gluten-free, which I’ll explain later. The only thing that I ask of you: do not remove Ricotta cheese from the recipe. To me, this makes the lasagna and other chef’s have agreed with me!
Kristi’s Lazy-agna- Serves 2-3, or more depending on the size of pan you have.
Since we’re on a boat, the biggest pan we have is about 8x4x3″ but if you have a bigger pan, then just adjust the amount of ingredients accordingly.
- (I prefer) non-boil lasagna noodles (skip these if you’re going to be gluten/starch free)
- Large Jar of Marinara/Spaghetti sauce/ one that you like. ***If you want to make this from scratch just use some canned tomatoes (diced) and some canned pureed tomatoes, add garlic, spices like ‘italian’, S&P, Chili flakes etc. and bring to a boil in a sauce pan.
- If Carnivorous: Ground Beef/turkey
- Ricotta cheese (a medium sized container–the more the better)
- Shredded cheddar cheese (or you can grate it yourself if you buy a block)
As many or as little of the following: jut assume that all are sliced vertically into ribbons (if they can be–mushrooms and tomatoes can’t), and if you have a peeler to do this, it’s alot easier than ‘ribboning’ by hand.
- Zucchini (1)
- Carrots (about 2)
- Onions (about a quarter)
- Spinach-Fresh leaves
- Peppers (green, red/yellow–for this recipe amount I only use about 1/3 of 1)
- Anything else you fancy that can be sliced into ribbons, or very thinly.
To start, I like to get everything ready so all you have to do is assemble it, trust me: it’s a lot easier than Ikea.
- Slice your veggies like I explained– into ribbons or small slices. Put them on a plate or in a dish or wherever you like for the time being…
- If you are having ground beef/turkey, place an amount that you think will suffice into a saucepan (for 2-3 people I use just a little over 1/2 of the package. Cook until mostly done and add the sauce (whether it’s from ‘scratch’ or from a jar).
- Or if making the sauce from ‘scratch’, combine your canned, diced tomatoes and tomato paste, spices and heat until it boils. you can remove from the heat if you want, it doesn’t HAVE TO be warm when you put it together.
- Sometime between steps 1 and 4 you can mix your ricotta cheese. Put the cheese in a bowl and add italian spice, chili pepper flakes and S&P. Mix (as seen on right). Basil and rosemary are other options too.
- Turn oven on to about 340 degrees.
- Now for the fun part! Yay, assembling time: scoop enough [meat] sauce into the bottom of the dish you’re going to be cooking it in.
- Put A– when I say ‘A’ I mean ONE (The English like to put 2 or more) layer of noodles down. This makes the lasagna less chewy and not so heavy (plus the veggies make their own layers too). If you have to break the noodles to fit the pan go for it. I don’t like wasting noodles so I make them fit like a puzzle (see below).
- Then spread the ricotta out over this layer. If you have a bigger pan, save some ricotta for another layer! On top of the ricotta I usually put tomatoes, or something that has juice which will help the lasagna noodles cook to soft.
- Another layer of noodle, then more sauce. (If you run out of the meat sauce, don’t be afraid to just use the plain stuff). Add more veggies, like mushroom, carrot, zucchini, etc. you can add cheese here if you like too. –>
- A Layer of Noodle- This is the last layer– for me at least :(. Sauce *sniff*, some onion, peppers or left over veggies *sniff*, handful of SPINACH! And sprinkle with the grated cheese!
- Stick in the oven for about 20 min, or until everything is done and the noodles are soft (if you used non-boil noodles).
If you have a deeper pan, then feel free to add more layers and just divide your veggies accordingly; the veggies don’t have to be in a specific place, but I do like having spinach on top (even if it’s inside as well).
To make this recipe gluten/starch free, all you have to do is forget the noodles completely and instead use the ribbons of Zucchini, carrot, tomato etc. as the noodle layer. If you only have one ‘starch free’ guest, just have a separate oven-friendly dish so you can assemble both at the same time. If you have a ‘gluten/starch-free, vegetarian’ guest, then I think you should tell them to bring a salad 😉 (or have a separate sauce for their assembly).
Don’t forget to sprinkle them with love before serving!
Let me know what YOU think of this recipe!