Four Cheese Vegetable Lasagna

Layers of cheese, vegetables and tomato sauce sandwiched between tender noodles makes this lasagna a hearty meal for every day or special occasions.  

Making Lasagna really says, "I love you!" to your family and friends.  It's not hard to make but it is a bit fussy with the preparation and layering.  I suppose it doesn't take much longer to put together than most casserole dishes but the preparation may be a little longer, especially if you are chopping vegetables and simmering a sauce. But the good news is, you can do it the day before you wish to serve it and keep it in the refrigerator until ready to bake.

Don't worry if you don't have some of the vegetables on hand.  Just substitute more of the ones you have or add another vegetable you may like.  And the veggie burger is optional.  Leave it out or put it in--it's up to you.  It will taste good either way.

Four Cheese Vegetable Lasagna
12 strips lasagna noodles, cooked according to package directions

1 500 ml carton cottage cheese or ricotta cheese (2 cups)

1 cup grated Mozzarella cheese
1 cup grated Cheddar cheese
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
Pinch of salt
Pinch of black pepper

½ cup diced onion

½ cup diced sweet pepper, any colour
½ cup diced canned mushrooms (1 cup if using fresh)
1 medium carrot, grated
1 or 2 minced garlic cloves
2 tablespoons olive oil or favourite cooking oil
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon salt
1 package/can veggie burger crumbles (I use Yves Ground Round), optional
1 large can tomato or pasta sauce
1 teaspoon sugar, optional

*Fresh or frozen spinach, if desired, optional

1 cup grated Mozzarella cheese

1 cup grated Cheddar cheese
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Grease a 9x13x2-inch baking dish.

Boil the lasagna noodles according to box directions.  Rinse with cold water and drain.

Grate the first amount of Mozzarella, Cheddar and Parmesan cheeses and mix with the cottage cheese, egg, salt and pepper. Divide the cheese mixture into thirds and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan or saucepan and add the diced vegetables. Sprinkle with salt. Stir and saute until the vegetables have softened but not browned.  Add the basil and oregano and stir through.  Crumble in the veggie burger, if using and stir in the tomato sauce.  Bring to a simmer for about 5 minutes. Taste. Add sugar if the sauce seems too sharp or acidic. Remove from heat and set aside.

Spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of prepared baking dish, about 1 cup. Lay down 3 lasagna noodles. Spread one-third of the cheese mixture over the noodles and then a thin layer of sauce over the cheese, about ¾ - 1 cup.  Continue with next layer of three noodles, cheese and sauce.  Top with three more noodles, cheese and sauce.  You should have three noodles left.  Lay these on top of the last layer of ingredients.  This will be your top.  Spread a thin layer of sauce over the noodles. Sprinkle with the second amount of Mozzarella, Cheddar and Parmesan cheeses.

*If you wish, you may sprinkle wilted or thawed and squeezed frozen spinach to one of the layers.  You will only need a thin layer--maybe about a cup of the squeezed and chopped spinach.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  You may now bake the Lasagna or cover and refrigerate until the next day when you are ready to bake it.

Bake in the preheated oven 45 minutes or until bubbling and the cheese is starting to brown to a golden colour.  If the casserole has been refrigerated, you may have to increase the time to 50-55 minutes to allow for the difference in temperatures.

Remove from oven and let rest 10-15 minutes before serving.

Makes 12-15 servings.

Get a big pot of water boiling and follow package directions for cooking the lasagna noodles.  When the noodles are cooked drain and run cold water over them.  This will keep them from sticking while they are sitting in the strainer.

While the noodles are cooking get the cheese and sauce ready. Grate the cheeses and combine with the egg.  Divide the cheese mixture into thirds and set aside.

Prepare the sauce by frying the onion, mushrooms, peppers, carrots and garlic in the oil.  Add salt, basil and oregano.  When the vegetables have softened add the veggie burger and the tomato/pasta sauce.

Let the sauce simmer about 5 minutes.

To assemble the lasagna:  Grease a 9x13x2-inch baking dish and place about 1 cup of sauce on the bottom.  Lay 3 strips of lasagna on top of the sauce.

Place one third of the cheese on top of the lasagna noodles.  Spread it out so it covers most of the noodles. 

Spread about ¾ - 1 cup of sauce on top of the cheese. Repeat this layering two more times.  

When you have placed the last layer of noodles in the dish, spread the last of the sauce on top.  You will need about 1 cup of sauce. 

Mix the last amounts of Mozzarella, Cheddar and Parmesan cheese together.

 Evenly sprinkle the cheese over the top of the last layer of sauce.

You should have 4 layers of noodles, 3 layers of mixed grated and cottage cheese, 4 layers of sauce and a topping of grated cheeses.

Bake the lasagna about 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

Let the lasagna rest about 10 or 15 minutes before serving. Cut the lasagna in 12 - 15 pieces.  

Serve the lasagna with garlic bread and a green salad.

Delicious for every day or special occasions. 


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