Winter hit us this week; snow storm, strong winds, school cancelled, the works. Being temporarily out of commission due to a pesky set of crutches that seem to be particularly fond of me I couldn’t get to the grocery store.
Ba-ba-da-da!! (Insert catchy lilting “eureka” sound byte here…)
It hit me suddenly – We have a deep freeze full of everything wholesome, home grown and nutritious we needed to make some comforting cold weather, “I just want to wear crocheted slippers and an ugly sweater in front of the fireplace” food!!!! I had stocked up on fresh seafood and meat from the market who sources from local farmers and had the few remaining ingredients on hand, so not only would we not need to get to the store, at least 75% of the ingredients would be locally sourced as well! May I re-iterate it is January and not much is growing fresh in our neck of the woods = score 1 for the freezer!
After hobbling down the stairs on one crutch (so I could carry stuff with my free hand), I found everything I needed for 2 pots of soup, a veggie lasagna and stuffed spaghetti squash between the freezer and cold room. I would have gotten the girls to help, but they were too cute sledding in the front yard I didn’t have the heart to call them in…ahhh to be so excited about snow to be oblivious to the actual weather conditions…
So if you are chilly and need a warm, filling, hug from a bowl of soup or a good hearty pasta alternative, the next four posts will include recipes to warm you up! The first one is Veggie Lasagna because it was the recipe posted on Italian Kitchen that got me craving lasagna in the first place, thanks!
Veggie and 3 Cheese Lasagna (adapted from Italian Home Kitchen)
From the Freezer (Vacuum sealed fresh from the garden)
2 cups cubed Zucchini (thawed), 4 basil chunks (see Kitty’s Presto Pesto post if you’d like to see how we froze our EPIC basil harvest this year!) – about 4 tbsp, the equivalent of 3 large cans of frozen tomatoes and 1/4 cup chopped garlic scapes
2 big handfuls of spinach and 1 1/2 cups (ish) of mushrooms
From the “Cold Room”
4 cloves of dried garlic, thyme, oregano, chives, chilis and 1 small butternut squash
From the Cupboard/Fridge
2 cups of grated mozzarella, 2 cups cottage cheese, 1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan, 3 eggs
1 box of lasagna noodles (I didn’t have any fresh zucchini to slice into “noodles” with the mandolin).
Sea salt and Fresh ground pepper
How I did it..
The sauce: In a pot, I put all of the whole frozen tomatoes (about 20 or 2L), the garlic, basil, herbs and scapes with 1/2 cup of water and then let it all simmer until it was hot and bubbly. The few skins that I had been too lazy to remove before freezing floated to the top and I just skimmed them out.
Once it smelled amazing and the juice had the right taste to my liking, I blendered it into a sauce and left it to continue reducing until I was ready for it.
In 2 separate bowls, I made the filling layers. The first bowl contained the eggs, well beaten, the cottage cheese and 2 big handfuls of fresh chopped spinach seasoned with sea salt and ground pepper. The second bowl had the zucchini (liquid mostly drained after it had thawed), mushrooms and thinly sliced butternut squash.
Layering: Starting with a thin layer of sauce in the bottom of a stone lasagna pan, I alternately layered uncooked noodles, the spinach and cheese mixture, the veggies then more sauce. I sprinkled each layer with a bit of mozzarella before starting the next noodle level. On the very top, I spread the mozzarella and the parmesan.
Into the preheated oven it went – 350 degrees for about an hour and a half – I covered it with foil for the first 45 minutes. Once the noodles could be pierced with a fork and everything was bubbly, it was all ready!
The verdict – success! I served it with a loaf of bread I had found in the freezer from a baking marathon earlier in the winter and a green salad. Only my wee girl complained about the mushrooms, but she conceded that it was easier for her to pick them out than for the rest of us to put them in! It was a bit runny, the next day for leftovers it was perfect. The only other feedback from the carnivore section was that there was a serious lack of meat, but they too grudgingly admitted that it was delicious without it!
Thankfully I have enough sauce left over to make the meat-a-tarians happy and will make stuffed spaghetti squash tonight. Check back – I might get the girls to take more pictures of that one too!