Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Green lasagne + roasted cauliflower ricotta

This is a Beethoven string quartet of a food post.  It starts out slow, it starts out rather colorless and dull and not very promising, gathers speed and momentum and brio, and ends with an explosion of colour and flavour.  I've even got a coda at the end :)

I'm featuring another little innovation from Appetite for Reduction that I just discovered today - roasted cauliflower ricotta.  Basically, it's roasted cauliflower and crumbled firm tofu mixed with a few other things and pulverized in a food processor (or by hand), and it's quite amazingly good, a ricotta-type product that actually has a taste, and if you like roasted cauliflower, this recipe is for you.

Isa uses it in her Lasagne with roasted cauliflower ricotta and spinach, and what I did today was inspired by that recipe, but since I can't ever do exactly what I'm told, I put my own spin on it.  The ricotta, however, is all hers. 

First, my sauce was green, a summer sauce from the freezer that was probably made with tomatillos.  At any rate, it was superb, so thanks, self of the past, for making and preserving it.  A layer of sauce:


A layer of cooked noodles (my whole recipe contains three lasagne noodles and is, incidentally, about one quarter of the entire recipe from the book, about a serving and a half):


Some of that ricotta:


Wow, are these pictures painfully dull or what?  Isa layers on a small amount of fresh raw spinach, but since I love greens, love 'em, and have a lot of them on hand, I quick-cooked some broccoli rabe, added lots of spinach right at the end, cooled it, and squeezed out some of the moisture.  Under it in the next layer is a sub-layer of red onions and chopped mushrooms:


So--


Do all that again, and finish up with a layer of noodles, the last of the ricotta, and a fresh tomato/kalamata olive topping:


Cook that at 350F for about 40 minutes:


It smells heavenly.  I served it with mashed carrots, steamed Brussels sprouts, and sweet winter daikon and red radishes:


Hooray, we have achieved the rainbow! And it was delicious to boot.  It's been ages...like years...since I had lasagne.  It's easy to make, but there was a certain (large) amount of cleanup required at the end.

Notice the mashed carrots?  I asked the Moon Goddess to pick me up some carrots at Costco the other day, since I was out, and she brought me back ten pounds.  Ten pounds of carrots is a lot of carrots.  Luckily, I'm quite fond of them.  I made supper for her and Diane the other night, and served these and they were a big hit--based on a recipe out of Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.  It's just steamed carrots, three big ones in this case, a heaping teaspoon of frozen concentrated orange juice, a teaspoon of grated fresh ginger, and salt and pepper, mashed.  That meal, however, got me into mashes in a big way.  Jamie Oliver has some nice ones in his Meals in Minutes, but none of them is as stupendous as this:


Kabocha squash, green beans, broccoli, peas, oh my!  It was served like this:


I was kind of following a recipe of Jamie Oliver's for this meal, but misread the recipe (my fault, not his) and ended up botching the tofu part, so I won't reveal which one.  It tasted pretty good anyway, and the mash made up for it.

I've been away from this blog for a little while, still cooking but also planning my garden (such a big job I've moved it over to its own blog so as not to bore the non-gardeners among my readers), and trying to figure out how to use my new smartphone.  Those things are amazingly addictive.


20 comments:

  1. Yes, this looks tremendous. How did I not notice the cauli-ricotta recipe in that book? I swear, it's (the book) like an onion. Layers!

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    1. Stacy, yes, it's studded with hidden gems that I'm really just starting to discover myself, hypnotized as I have been by the omelet and the crepes!

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  2. That all looks so wonderful.. what was your mash recipe? I'd love to try it!

    I didn't know you were such a gardener. I will follow your progress with envy. I am moving and my new place is mainly concrete.. so it will be mainly planters for me with a bit of a garden in the front. :)

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    1. Janet, the books I'm reading these days are all about what you can grow in containers on a patio, on an asphalt parking lot, wherever you happen to be. I'm growing many of my hot weather plants in containers this year, to keep them free of pests and right in heat. Good luck to you--I'd be interested to see what you can do!

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  3. Wonderful! Veggieful! It looks glowingly delicious! I'm very interested in that roasted cauliflower "ricotta".

    I'm excited about your garden blog too! I've got to get moving on garden planning.

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    1. Thanks, Rose! Believe it or not, I already have tomatoes and peppers sprouting...look for them soon on the garden blog...

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  4. Ha ha, we've bought the 10lb bag of costco carrots before too. They're actually really delicious and make for great juice, which is one of the easiest ways of getting through such a giant stash of 'em. Also that lasagne is beautiful - love.

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    1. I think I'm going to be juicing some of them, but I do love carrots a kind of a dessert too, weird as that may sound. So sweet, such exercise for your jaw, by the time you've chewed your way through a few, your sugar cravings are satisfied and you're also quite tired, I find!

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  5. First, I must take exception to the idea that the photos are boring — not at all! I love that you show all the steps, and how can a photo of roasted cauliflower be dull? I think adding cauliflower to cheese-like mixes is wonderful, but I do know a certain 4-year-old who refused to eat mac and cheese made with such a mix. The lasagna is exactly the sort I'd want to eat — so many veggies and flavors. Have you ever tried the lasagna noodles that don't have to be boiled? I haven't, but they would eliminate one big pot to clean.

    We recently bought one of the Costco bags of carrots and yes, 10 pounds really is a LOT. I remember I used to make a tasty carrot sauce for pasta. It tastes remarkably like tomato sauce, and it uses quite a few carrots. We both should make some. :)

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  6. Oh, yes, that sauce sounds very intriguing! Okay, I'll look it up! I also tend to agree with you that cauliflower is one of those foods like coffee that appeal much more to adults than to children. No one who has tasted roasted cauliflower and is over the age of twenty, however, you're right, can see even a crummy sort of picture of it without wanting some:)

    Mac and cheese + cauliflower? Just wait a few years for Miss E to grow out of her four-year-old palate!

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  7. Just for the record - you are never boring Zoa! Your words, photos and ideas are always inspiring! I have just checked out your new blog and it's just as awesome as this one! Thanks for sharing!

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  8. I agree with everyone else - I don't see the boring. I see delicious yummy looking food and as a bonus they're step by step photos! :-)

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  9. I agree with everyone else -- totally note boring. I enjoyed the garden blog as well. Zone 3b takes a lot of planning for such a short window of growth.

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  10. I love how you throw together casseroles so effortlessly  I’ve yet to try the ricotta recipe from AFR, I usually just stick to the V’con one, but I do love roasted cauliflower, so I can imagine that it only makes it better!

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  11. So...I'm totally late on blog reading, but I'm catching up slowly but surely - and I'm glad I did because I love everything about this post. I'm going to try so many aspects of this meal.

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  12. Nice post, i hope everyone will like your post..

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  13. Awesome post, thanks for sharing this post..

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  14. This is really nice topic, which is very useful for me.

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