By Brandon McDearis
As spring approaches and the weather starts to get nicer, the grill can resume as a key player in your weekly food preparation. Grilled vegetables are always a nice addition to almost any meal, and their uses can be almost endless. A convenient move is to go big on them one night in order to have some left over for another night’s meal. One of my favorite ways to use up extra grilled veggies is by using them in a casserole or lasagna.
This month’s recipe has no real set of rules. Most vegetables are fair game here, and they don’t all necessarily have to be grilled. You can also cut much of the dairy out or add more if you prefer. I recommend using no-boil lasagna pasta, but if you would like to be in on a little culinary secret, then I will let you know that you can get away with using any lasagna noodle raw, as long as it bakes long enough, preferably covered, and with a sufficient amount of liquid. This recipe meets all of these guidelines. If you do not trust me, then feel free to bake your noodles according to the package directions. Another option is cutting them out all together. You can easily omit the noodles and double up on the vegetables, making this dish finish much lower on the glycemic index.
You can get away with using 1 (26oz) jar of tomato sauce, but I recommend having at least 40 ounces as not to run short. There are some good quality store-bought tomato and pesto sauces out there these days, but if you want to keep it fresh and homemade then feel free to email me for recipes at Brandon@yourwaycuisine.com.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil (more if needed)
- 3 eggplants, cut lengthwise in 1/4-inch slices
- 3 large zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/8-inch slices
- 2 red bell peppers, quartered and seeded
- 1 red onion, cut into 1/8-inch slices
- 1 (15oz) container fat free Ricotta cheese
- 1 egg
- 1 cup of either grated Parmesan, Romano, Asiago or a mix of all three
- ¼ cup chopped basil
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons granulated garlic
- ½ cup commercial or homemade pesto
- 9-12 lasagna noodles
- 4-6 cups tomato sauce
- 1-2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, extra if needed
- Pre-heat grill to medium high heat, about 300-400 degrees.
- Brush vegetables with olive oil and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Grill each about 2-3 minutes on each side until tender.
- Slice each into half and put in a bowl with the Ricotta, egg, Parmesan, herbs, seasonings and pesto. Mix thoroughly.
- Spray a 9 x 13 inch pan with cooking spray and spread about ½ cup of sauce on the bottom of the pan. Arrange 3 lasagna noodles on the bottom, spread vegetable/cheese mix evenly, top again with sauce and sprinkle with a handful of the Mozzarella. Repeat this step 2-3 more times until the pan is full and the vegetable mix is gone. Cover with remaining Mozzarella and more if desired.
- Cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake uncovered for another 15 minutes until lightly brown on top.
Makes 12 Servings
Calories: 318 / Fat: 10g / Saturated fat: 4g / Carbohydrates: 41g / Fiber: 4g / Protein: 15g
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Brandon McDearis is the owner of Your Way Cuisine, www.yourwaycuisine.com, a personal chef and nutrition consulting business. He is also a professional wanderer that spends much of his year trotting the globe and working in places such as Alaska, Australia, and Antarctica.
Grilling is a great and healthy way to cook vegetables that will enhance their natural flavors. If finicky spring weather isn’t permitting you to grill outdoors, you can use a stove-top grill pan to prepare the vegetables for your lasagna. An additional benefit to a stove-top grill is that you will not have to worry about your vegetables slipping through the grill!
After washing your vegetables, chop them into pieces and discard the ends.
Soak the chopped vegetables in cold water for about 10 minutes to keep them moist and prevent them from drying while being grilled.
While the vegetables are soaking preheat the stove-top grill to medium-high heat.
Spray the grill with a light coating of nonstick cooking and then add your vegetables.
Occasionally turn the vegetables with a spatula while they are cooking.
Grill the vegetables for 10 minutes, checking them with a fork for desired tenderness.