Pray, Garden, Exercise, Cook – those seem to be my daily coping activities right now that are getting me through this time. I have enjoyed cooking for my family, for older neighbors, and for families in our community during quarantine – so one dish meals are a hit all around. Paying homage to an Italian favorite – this lasagna with a twist has been one my dad enjoyed and seems to be a hit with those I’ve delivered meals too as well. Put on a little Italian music, enjoy the aromas of garlic, tomatoes and fresh herbs, and transport your family to Italy one night. This is also a recipe that kids can easily help with too, in fact their little hands are ideal to roll up the noodles.
1 lb lasagna noodles
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2-3 cloves garlic, diced
1/4 cup onion and 1/3 cup onion, diced and separated
2 1/2 cups fresh cherry or grape tomatoes, halved and separate 1/2 cup
1/2 cup kalamata olives
7-10 basil leaves
3-4 sprigs of fresh oregano, de-stemmed
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme, de-stemmed
For Cheese Mixture
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (Viola Life Just Like Parmesan Wedge)
1 cup + 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, separated
1 1/2 lb (24 oz) ricotta cheese (Tofutti Better Than Cheese Ricotta)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, separated (Daiya Shreds)
1 large egg (1/4 cup pureed tofu)
Salt and pepper, for seasoning
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the lasagna noodles according to the package directions. Be careful not to over cook noodles. Rinse noodles to stop cooking and go ahead and lay out each noodle on countertop or prep space.
While the noodles are cooking, make the sauce in a heavy bottom sauce pan. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat, saute garlic and onion, add 1/2 cup tomatoes and reduce heat to medium-low.
In the Vitamix (or other blender) put in remaining tomatoes, olives, onion, and herbs. Pulse 3-5 times until desired consistency is reached. Pour sauce into pan with garlic, onion and tomatoes, bring temperature back up to medium-high. Let bubble them reduce heat to low and let simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
In a large bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese and the egg. Season with salt and pepper. Roughly chop 1/2 cup parsley and mix into the cheese mixture
Add a thin layer of sauce to the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking pan.
Spread about 3-4 Tbsp of the cheese mixture on each noodle strip (you will be able o judge this pretty well after first few noodles you spread.) Top with a about 1 Tbsp sauce. Roll each noodle up and place into the prepared baking pan seam side down.
Top the completed lasagna rolls with the remainder of the sauce. Evenly distribute the remaining 1 cup of mozzarella cheese on top.
Tent foil over the pan and bake for a total of 30 – 35 minutes, removing foil after the first 15 minutes.
Allow to cool for a couple minutes before serving. Sprinkle with remaining fresh parsley and serve. Bon Appetit!