Have you ever had a hunger for something and decided to look for the recipe you had for it? This happened to me earlier this week. I had eaten vegetable lasagna a co-worker made about 20 years ago. At the time she gave me the recipe. I spent quite a bit of time looking through some of my loose recipes to find it. While I found some old recipes with good memories I did not find what I was looking for.
As sometimes happens that made me want vegetable lasagna even more. So I spent some time trying to remember what was in the lasagna I liked. Obviously, there was no meat and it did not have a red sauce. Instead it was made with a white sauce. I also remembered it having carrots, spinach and possibly some yellow squash.
Mind you this is vegetable lasagna, not vegan lasagna so there had to be cheese. I love cheese. Also, I knew I couldn’t call it lasagna if there was no cheese. There is more on the discussion of what makes a lasagna later.
I began gathering my ingredients for my lasagna. That is when I realized that I still had a box of Phyllo dough in my refrigerator from Pi day. Although I had lasagna noodles I thought this would be a good way to use the Phyllo. Additionally, I thought it would be a fun twist on lasagna, a good food adventure.
The prep was a bit intensive with all of the vegetable chopping, sautéing, layering, and oiling. I asked both girls to help me in the kitchen and they did. My sous chefs did much of the grating and chopping, and even a bit of the stirring. They were invaluable. Strangely though, they had both disappeared when it came time to layer everything. That is until I was putting the last bit of cheese on. Daughter Number Three popped into the kitchen to see if there was leftover cheese. I handed her a spoon to scrape out the bowl at which she seemed quite happy to assist.
To please or appease the red meat eaters in my house I made quarter pound meatballs as a side. Yes, I really did just refer to meatballs as a side dish. After all, the vegetable lasagna was the main attraction. I served a salad and some Italian bread with dinner as well.
My family was intrigued by the vegetable lasagna. Daughter Number Three, who does not like vegetables, took a small helping. She was glad I made the meatballs. I was surprised at how much of the lasagna she ate. Daughter Number Four liked it. She is not a picky eater and likes vegetables. The Hubs was also glad I made meatballs. He did not dislike the vegetable lasagna; however he refused to call it lasagna. In fact he announced quite loudly that he didn’t mind the Primavera Casserole, but lasagna has tomato-y meat sauce. After his second serving of the Primavera Casserole he said that he also liked the phyllo dough. He then asserted that also was a clear indication this was not lasagna.
Overall it was a success. In fact, I liked it more than I remembered enjoying my co-workers. I am so glad I made it, and I am delighted that I lost her recipe.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ cup onion (diced)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 2 carrots (sliced 1/8” thick coins)
- 2 small zucchini (sliced 1/8” thick coins)
- 1 package frozen broccoli
- 1 package frozen spinach (thawed and drained)
- 8 ounces cremini mushrooms (sliced)
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 8 ounces mozzarella (grated)
- 8 ounces cottage cheese
- 8 ounces Ricotta cheese
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese (grated)
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup whole milk
- Phyllo Dough (thawed)
- ¼ – ½ cup olive oil
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 X 13 baking dish.
- Put 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and cook until beginning to soften. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes, stirring. Add carrots and zucchini. Stir to combine. Stir in oregano and basil. Continue stirring until zucchini begins to soften. Add broccoli, spinach, and mushrooms. Add pepper. Toss gently to combine. Turn heat to medium low and place a lid on skillet. Stir occasionally until vegetables are soft. Set aside.
- While vegetables are cooking, melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan. Stir in flour to make a paste. Whisk in milk and stir constantly until thickened. Turn off and set aside.
- In a large bowl mix together grated mozzarella, cottage cheese, and Ricotta. Set aside.
- To assemble lasagna place ½ of the vegetable mixture in the bottom of the greased 9 X 13 pan. Spoon ½ of the cheese mixture over the vegetables, spreading to cover the vegetables. Grate ½ of the parmesan cheese over the top of the cheese mixture. Place 1 sheet of phyllo over the cheese layer, tucking the corners and edges down. Cover the unused phyllo with a sheet of waxed paper and a damp lint free towel or paper towel. Using a pastry brush, brush the top of the sheet of phyllo on the cheese mixture with olive oil. Repeat until you have four sheets of phyllo. Add the remaining vegetable mixture on top of the phyllo layer. Spoon remaining cheese mixture over the vegetables. Be sure to spread the cheese completely over the top of the vegetables. Grate remaining parmesan cheese over the top. Carefully pour the white sauce over the cheeses. Top with 4 sheets of phyllo, oiled between each. Make sure to tuck the corners and edges down and oil well.
- Bake in preheated oven for 20-30 minutes until the phyllo is lightly golden and crisp.
- Remove from oven to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. This allows the sauce and cheese to set up slightly before serving.