Keep your family’s bellies warm this winter with this Mini-Vegetable Lasagna recipe from Cricket Azima and our friends at iVillage! What makes this recipe so fantastic is that it makes several tasty mini-lasagnas that can be eaten the day of, or can be wrapped up and stored in the freezer for a busy day with no time to cook. AND what makes the recipe even more versatile is that you can switch up the veggies to include your family’s favorite veggies or have the kids pick out the veggies they want to add to make it more appealing. If that doesn’t attract them then involve the whole family a great winter indoor activity, making the lasagnas together! Have mom and dad cook the veggies and have the kids use their creative layering skills to make their own mini-lasagna.
1 small eggplant
2 medium zucchini
2 medium yellow squash
1 pound mushrooms (or buy pre-sliced to save a few minutes)
Salt to taste, plus 1/2 teaspoon salt for ricotta mixture
Two (15- ounce) containers ricotta cheese
Two (10- ounce) packages frozen spinach, thawed and drained
2/3 cup parmesan cheese, plus more to garnish
2 large eggs, beaten
1 pound shredded mozzarella
1 pound lasagna noodles, oven-ready style (for ease) or traditional noodles, cooked and drained
Two (24- ounce) jars pasta sauce
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and set aside 5 3×5-inch pans and 2 8×4-inch pans.
2. Slice the eggplant into 1/8-inch pieces and lay on paper towels. Sprinkle salt over them to help draw water out.
3. Slice the zucchini and squash and place on a cookie sheet. Drizzle lightly with oil and add salt and pepper to taste.
4. If needed, slice the mushrooms and set aside.
5. Place eggplant pieces on another cookie sheet, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt.
6. Place both cookie sheets in the oven and set timer for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the zucchini and squash from the sheet and put into a bowl, draining any liquid.
7. Use the same cookie sheet for the mushrooms. Spread the mushroom slices on the sheet, lightly drizzle the oil and add salt to taste before putting back into oven. Flip the eggplant and put back into oven. Set timer for an additional 15 minutes. Once finished, remove both sheets from oven, draining any liquid, and place each vegetable into a separate bowl.
8. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix together the ricotta, spinach, Parmesan, eggs and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
9. Place the shredded mozzarella and the pasta sauce each into separate bowls.
10. Call in the kids and have a layering party. Layer the ingredients into each lasagna pan, starting with a thin layer of pasta sauce. Add a layer of noodles. Spread 1/4 cup ricotta mixture into the small pans and 1/2 cup into the large pans. Add a layer of vegetables (eggplant and mushrooms, for example). Sprinkle a thin layer of mozzarella cheese. Next, spread another layer of sauce, then add another layer of noodles, spread a thin layer of ricotta, vegetable and mozzarella. Add the final layer of noodles, spread some pasta sauce and more mozzarella cheese, and lastly sprinkle some Parmesan cheese on top.
11. Cover the lasagnas with foil. If desired, place some of the pans in the freezer for another night (simply defrost the lasagnas by placing them in the refrigerator in the morning and then cook that night for dinner).
12. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes, then remove foil and cook for another 5 to 8 minutes, or until cheese is lightly browned on top. Let the lasagna set for 5 minutes before serving.
The Creative Kitchen™, LLC, teaches children about food and how to cook in a fun, safe, and educational manner. Targeting families with children ages two to teen, the company focuses on teaching, writing creative content and curriculum, special events, recipe development, spokesperson work, webisode production and consulting to present educational and entertaining content through food-related activities. The founder, Cricket Azima, is an expert in cooking for and with children. She inspires kids to express themselves creatively through food and cooking, while complementing lessons with traditional educational material such as social studies, math, arts, science, and more. Visit www.thecreativekitchen.com for more information.