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The Year of the Soup has successfully come to an end, and I’ve decided to continue my culinary education with a new project in 2011.  Despite many, many requests that 2011 be the year of the dessert (mostly from those of you living in town that anticipated gifts of chocolatey leftovers :) ), I’ve decided that 2011 will be The Year of The Noodle!  Sounds odd, I know.  But there are so many dishes that involve noodles or pasta of some sort, and I think it will be wonderful to experiment with them.  I’ll get to try new sauces, fillings, casseroles, soups, making pasta from scratch – all kinds of good things.  I also look forward to styling and photographing a new variety of dishes to up my food photography game.  So you can look forward to the next 52 weeks being filled with delicious noodle-related dishes.

On a side note, I’m anticipating making at least some of the pastas from scratch this year.  Seeing as John and I registered for our honeymoon instead of traditional wedding gifts, we don’t have a wealth of kitchen tools waiting around to be used.  If anyone out there received a pasta maker as a wedding gift, and its primary use over the last few years has been for collecting dust, I would greatly like to take it off your hands :)

Now, to the first noodle of the year!  The filling in this recipe is quite good, but I felt it needed more sauce to properly cook the noodles (they were kinda crunchy.)  Perhaps I got a little too impatient waiting for it to cook and took it out too early, I’m not sure.  A more patient person (without guests over to feed) might have a better experience with the recipe.  Unfortunately this lasagna didn’t make the best debut of the Year of the Noodle, but I have 51 more recipes to make up for it :)

Vegetarian Lasagna with Spinach and Ricotta Filling

  • 1 plastic produce bag stuffed tightly full of spinach (preferably not baby spinach)
  • 1 lb. ricotta
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 head cauliflower florets and some stem, cut small
  • 2 large (28 oz.) cans plain tomato sauce
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • 1.5 pounds no-boil lasagna noodles (or regular lasagna noodles, par-boiled)
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • 1 lb. grated mozzarella
  • 4 oz. grated parmesan cheese
  1. Clean the spinach well and wilt it, cool, squeeze out all water, stir it into the ricotta along with the nutmeg. Salt and pepper to taste, then beat in the eggs.
  2. Saute the onion & garlic  in a good amount of olive oil, add the cauliflower and saute 5 minutes, add the tomato sauce and lemon zest, simmer 5 minutes, salt to taste
  3. Oil an 11″ x 13″ pan (at least 2″ deep). Build up layers of noodles, sauce, ricotta mixture, and mozzarella. Be sure to get the noodles quite wet since they are the no-boil type and need plenty of moisture. You’ll have about 4 layers total. I do sauce on every layer, but ricotta on some and mozzarella on others. Do what you feel.
  4. Finish with a heavy layer of mozzarella and the parm, mixed together.
  5. Bake at 375 F., covering with tin foil part of the time if needed to avoid overbrowning. It is done when internal temp is say 170 F. (check a few spots) or when you can easily pierce the noodles with a fork, and the sauce is bubbling around the sides.
  6. If the cheese isn’t crispy and brown enough, finish judiciously with the broiler.
  7. Allow to rest at least 15 minutes before serving so it has time to set up a bit.
Source: Herbavoracious
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