Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Veggie Lasagna and Adventures in Ithaca

Happy Wednesday! This past weekend I visited my good friend in Ithaca again. The weather was still a bit cool and dreary there, but we had a blast anyways, making delicious channa saag and pancakes. We also took advantage of the rainy Saturday afternoon to watch Frozen, which I had partially seen with the MIT cycling team while in California, but this was the first time I was not distracted by a fiancé on the phone. (Instead he was sitting on the couch next to me.) Seeing it only strengthened my recent nostalgia for the Disney movies of the 90s. We also made a ton of popcorn using a classic popcorn popper and man, that was good! Much better than the stovetop. Saturday evening, we all went out to dinner with my cousins at Northstar House, which served delicious local food with many vegetarian options. I had a carrot & beet flatbread, but the dish that most impressed me was the BBQ Cauliflower, which I'll be attempting to recreate later this week. Before leaving on Sunday, I raced in the Hollenbeck's RR in nearby Virgil NY. I use the term "raced" loosely, as I was the only W123 racer signed up. So I got to race with the men's 3/4 field, which was quite the experience. The winds were brutal so I did my best to find someone's wheel to suck and stay low, both things that I need practice at anyways! I also got a loud and clear reminder to be more assertive in my pack positioning, as it was my positioning and not my climbing abilities that ultimately led me to be dropped. Oops. The course was just perfect for me though: several significant but not-too-long climbs, rolling, non-technical descents and a steep uphill finish. Afterwards, I was greeted by wonderful refreshments from Ithaca Bakery and Gimme Coffee and a cool-down bike ride with my friend on her new bike.

View from the finish line of Hollenbeck's RR. A nice little climb up for a stunning view of NYS!

But enough about what I've been up to! It's been a while, but I'm bringing you an Energy Neutral original: grain free lasagna. I made my traditional lasagna few weeks ago and was reminded of how much I like a good veggie lasagna. I traditionally make it with mushrooms, spinach, eggplant, and a heavily herbed ricotta. And this recipe is still made that way! However, I have yet to find a decent gluten free lasagna noodle, so this time, I replaced the noodle layers with kale and swiss chard so that I could share! As a result, this recipe packs even more of a nutritional punch. We've talked about the nutritional benefits of kale previously, but what about swiss chard? Like kale, swiss chard is a cruciferous vegetable and offers the anti-cancer antioxidants that you've come to know and love. Swiss chard also offers large doses of vitamins K, C, and A as well as calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium. I also find the flavor to be a bit more mild than kale or collard greens, but the leaves are still large and satisfying, making this a good substitute for lasagna noodles! To add back some of the carbohydrates I took away by using greens instead of pasta, I created a cheesy herbed hummus to use instead of my traditional herbed ricotta. However, if you aren't worried about your dinner being low-carb feel free to use my traditional herbed ricotta! Herbed tofu ricotta is also an option and delicious! If you just want to make a delicious basic veggie or vegan lasagna, use the ricotta and the noodles, that recipe is below as well. I hope you enjoy it!

Veggie Lasagna

1 bunch swiss chard (full-sized leaves, not chopped)
1 bunch kale (full-sized leaves, not chopped)
OR 1 box no-cook lasagna noodles
1 large eggplant, sliced
1 box baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1 package frozen spinach (Optional and recommended only with the noodles. You can only fit so much in a pan and the kale/ swiss chard takes care of your green needs!)
20 oz of your favorite spaghetti sauce (we use TJ's organic or basil)
1 recipe cheesey herbed hummus or ricotta (below)
1c shredded mozzarella or vegan cheese shreds (TJ's makes a good vegan option) for topping

Cheesey Herbed Hummus

1 large bunch basil
1 small bunch parsley
2T dried oregano (or fresh if you can find it! I never can)
6 cloves garlic
1/4 onion
2 cans white beans, washed and drained
2c nutritional yeast

Food process herbs, then add white beans and nutritional yeast. Food process until desired consistency is reached.

Traditional Herbed Ricotta or Tofu Ricotta

Substitute white beans & nutritional yeast for 3c ricotta or one package extra firm tofu (trust me, the tofu works!).

The assembly process

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Cover the bottom of a  9x13 pan with a thin layer of tomato sauce
3. Add a layer of kale and swiss chard (or lasagna noodles.)
4. Add a layer of the herbed "cheese" of your choice, then some mushrooms and eggplant (and spinach, if you're using noodles). Top the layer with a layer of spaghetti sauce.
5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 to fill up the pan. If you're adding the veggies right, it'll only be 2 or 3 layers...
6. Once the pan is heaping, add a final layer of kale/ swiss chard (or noodles) and then top with tomato sauce and a sprinkling of the shredded cheese of your choice. 
7. Cover with aluminum foil and cook for 45 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes, then slice, serve, and enjoy!

Bikes and Subarus, hurray!

No comments:

Post a Comment