A Different Lasagna... no red.

Well, I was at a loss. Saturday afternoon, idly checking cookbooks, half-heartedly sifting through my favourite blogs. No luck, wasn't feeling in the least inspired. Really, I wanted nothing more than to just order in Pizza and wings from our favourite local (p.s. this has to be one of the best web designs that I've come across in a long while) and call it a day. Well until I came across one blog that posted a veg/white lasagna. I'm thinking a little more energetically now - 'Wait... I have some no-cook noodles that I just haven't been able to bring myself to use (I can't stand the things to be honest and bought them in error whilst rushing through the grocery store one day), I have some Provolone cheese frozen - just waiting for some kind of reason to be, veggies. I could do this... and it was born! (think of the money saved on the pizza... hmmm money though that maybe they could put towards the website, no?!)

I've done this before but this is the first time that I'm putting it into black and white. I'm going to use what I have on hand (because its -14 C outside right now and I'm not going out there again) but I'll put proper quantities and items in the recipe list. Just for the record though, I used some onion, pepper, Chard (left over from the Sausage sauce) and garlic - in a pinch I would even finely chop some broccoli - you get creative when you are desperate! The result though was an awesomely gooey, creamy, cheesy creation - pure comfort love.

Lasagna with 3 Cheese Bechamel and Vegetables

1 package lasagna noodles (in this case I used 'Oven Ready' but it's not ideal - presoak in warm water if you use these)

5 cups milk (warmed)
2 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth (warmed)
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup flour
Worcestershire Sauce
Pepper Sauce
100 gr. Goat Cheese
150 - 200 gr. Provolone

200 gr. Mozzarella Cheese, grated

3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Onion, chopped
Zucchini, sliced small
Pepper, chopped small
mushrooms (about 10 - 12), sliced fine
4 cloves Garlic, chopped
1 package spinach (or baby spinach, or chard - I used Chard b/c I had it left in the fridge)

To make Bechamel(You might want to do this in two batches if you don't have a saucepan big enough):
Melt butter in a heavy saucepan. Once melted, add flour to make a rue, add the milk and blend. Then add the broth. Keep heat relatively low but let it slowly come to a light simmer, stirring regularly. Once sauce begins to thicken add the seasoning,Worcestershire and Pepper Sauce. Then add the Goat and Provolone Cheese and stir until melted.

Heat the Olive Oil and add the Veggies save the garlic and spinach. After 5 min. add the garlic and spinach and saute until limp.
To Assemble:
Start with Bechamel in the bottom of the Lasagna pan. From there, alternate noodles, bechamel, veggies and mozzarella in that order until everything is used. Place in heated 375 degree F oven and bake for 45 min. Allow to set for about 10 min. after taking it out of the oven before serving.

Saucy Chard!

I'm all about simple food (well, at least I think I am). Good casserole's, things that will last and make great leftovers. I work a lot during the week so either Sunday or Monday are the days when I cook and hopefully that cooking takes us through the week. This sauce is yet another hybrid (I'm definitely an 'Eco-Conscious' kind of person after all).
A friend of mine was making this for her family years ago when I first moved back to Canada (after being in Trinidad for a year and a half). It was just my kind of food... simple. Think hot italian sausage and spinach with tomatoes and pepper sauce. Great over pasta!

Some years later I found a recipe for Red Chard in a goat cheese sauce. I thought this might be great with Italian Sausage and Tomatoes. Well, the whole thing has been a marriage made in heaven (and how often does that happen ;-). I have to tell you how much I adore goat cheese (chevre). First had it in France (where else) with a wonderful family who had me for dinner. We were in a small town outside of Paris (one of those places where you could go for a walk after dinner and find yourself looking at fields and farms - Oh Yeah). They served a simple, tasty dinner and served cheese afterwards with coffee. The goat cheese that they served was warm and they got it from one of the farms nearby *sigh*. It was a beautiful thing and it was the beginning of my love affair with goat cheese.

Italian Sausage and Swiss Chard in Chevre Sauce (that sounds really complicated)

1/2 onion, diced small
1/2 medium sized zucchini, sliced

6 mushrooms, sliced
2 - 3 cloves of garlic chopped or crushed (I only had 2 little specimens left ;(

10 leaves (or so) Swiss Chard chopped
6 hot italian sausages (please use mild if you prefer)
1 can tomatoes
1 or 2 packets of bouillion (chicken or veg. - low salt)
2 tbsp brown sugar (yes)

1 tbsp parsley (I used dried but it you have fresh, even better, use more)

2 tbsp basil (same as above)
dash or two of pepper sauce (although this is optional)
2 cups water or red wine
2 cups milk
(cream if you are feeling in the mood)
1 small package of goat cheese (about 150 g)

Bake the sausage in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 min. or until just cooked through and firm (not dried out though).

In a large Dutch oven, use the drippings from the sausage to saute the onion, zucchini and mushrooms. Once the onion is slightly transparent, add the garlic and the chard. Saute for another few minutes, add more drippings as needed. Add the cooked sausage and mix well. I usually add the seasoning at this point - bouillion, salt, sugar, parsley, basil, pepper sauce - and mix well (let it get into the food just a little. Once well mixed, add the wet ingredients and then lastly, the goat cheese. Simmer at low heat for about a 1/2 hour and it's ready to serve!

Campbell's Soup makes you...

Okay, okay, I know. Tomato Soup Wanda? Are you for real?

Well, here's the deal. My kids really like Campbell's Tomato Soup (I put grated cheese in the bottom of the bowl - you know... YUM) and my daughter even likes it in her school lunch thermos. So, I wonder if instead of buying these stupid cans of the stuff, can't I just make it? I started searching. It's not as easy as I thought it would be to find a recipe for the stuff. But, 'A-Hybriding' (again, new word made up by me right here and now - DANG!) I go. I found a recipe from Joy at Joy the Baker and I also consulted one of my all-time cookbook favourites the 'More With Less' Cookbook. The picture on that site looks pretty much exactly like my own well-used copy.
So, since I'm just getting over the stomach flu and can't really handle much else on my stomach anyway (in fact it's been roughly 36 hrs since I've eaten! Not that I'm counting ;-), I think that it's the perfect time to test run this sucker.

Cream of Tomato Soup (my version)
1/2 an onion, diced small
4 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp flour
3 Tbsp Tomato Paste (had some frozen and finally got to use it up! Yeah)
2 cups Chicken Stock (also had some in the freezer but supplemented with a bit of bouillion)
Sea Salt and pepper (I used quite a bit of salt but everything, including the tomatoes were 'no salt' so season to taste)
1/4 (or thereabouts) of brown sugar
Basil (didn't have fresh but used some dry about 2 or 3 tsp.)
dash of Pepper Sauce (this is optional though)
2 cans of italian tomatoes (I used whole but ground them up in this handy food grinder that I got for a birthday gift a couple of years ago - Awesome! See picture at right)
1/2 cup of milk (I used 2% but whole or cream would be much better)
heat large dutch oven.

Melt butter and add onion. Saute onion until it's clear then add flour and spices. Incorporate everything together and then add tomato paste and stock. Once that is
incorporated and has thickened just a bit, add the tomatoes. Let that simmer for about 5 minutes and then add milk (I used cold milk right from the fridge). Let this simmer (try not to let it come to a full boil) until ready to eat. If you are feeling particularly energetic (not me today but maybe tomorrow) you could make some Apple Cheddar Cookies or Cheddar Scones to go with this.

The result was good. I would definitely do this again. In future, I would include some garlic, roasted garlic would be even better. I used homemade chicken stock which had some chicken pieces in it so I had to fish them out. It was still not as smooth as the canned stuff but nothing that an immersion blender (still haven't replaced my Braun which lasted for about 15 yrs - and it was already second hand) wouldn't fix. Taste was good. I would guess that I spent about $5.00 max on this recipe and it yielded about 5 bought cans of soup. Comes out a little cheaper but the taste is more than worth it. Plus, now I know exactly what is going into my kids bellies.

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St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.

My Favourite Cookbooks

  • Naparima Girls High School Cookbook
  • The Silver Palate Cookbook
  • More-with-Less Cookbook
  • Moosewood Cookbook

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Wanda Thorne
St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.
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