Sunday, October 9, 2011

Desperation Lasagna

Doesn't "desperation lasagna" sound like something you might eat with Calamity Jane? The two of you could slam forkfuls of the stuff into your starvling mouths and wash it down with brimming tumblers of sour mash. Don't forget to swear. A LOT. I'm not sure why, but this morning I have a bit of Deadwood on the brain. If you haven't seen that regrettably short-lived show, I assure you that you are missing out. After watching a single season, you will doubtless notice a marked uptick in your use of the f-bomb, and you might even find yourself unconsciously mimicking Tim Olyphant's signature loose-and-stiff-at-the-same-time saunter. That's how you walk when you're not afraid of anybody or anything. And, really, couldn't we all use a little less fear? My goal for the day is to channel Olyphant. Not a bad objective, as such things go.
But I didn't name this dish Desperation Lasagna specifically thinking about the Old West, except for the fact that my work schedule has me running around so much that a patient observer might have been treated to the sight of tumbleweeds blowing through the virtual landscape of my much-neglected blog. Never fear, dear readers. Though I have taken other mistresses, writing for other sites, you are still my first love. But I digress. Desperation lasagna is actually sort of a euphemistic name. I also could have called it "kitchen sink lasagna," since I made free with the ingredients based on what we had around. For example, we didn't have mozzarella daiya, which is what I would normally use for lasagna, but we did have cheddar. Thinking about yellow and lasagna led me to sub other ingredients for those of a similar hue. Thus, I discovered that butternut squash and corn are actually quite delightful in a cheddary dish of lasagna in place of sausage and mushrooms. And why not? I already put all kinds of unconventional things in my enchiladas. Lasagna is the next logical step. I think if C could testify, he would tell you that it was quite delicious.

Finally, a note about the noodles. I don't precook lasagna noodles. Ever. In my view, it's a total waste of time and energy. And the no-boil lasagna noodles are a rip-off. Don't bother with them. Regular noodles work just fine without pre-boilng, so save your money for some beer and chocolate. That's what I do.

Desperation Lasagna

1 pkg lasagna noodles--I used brown rice because our new roomie has wheat issues, and I thought she might want some eventually, but any kind is fine. Just keep the quinoa away from me. It hates me.
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 pkg cheddar Daiya or Follow Your Heart cheese (Or go traditional and use mozzarella. See if I care. Or be totally crazy and skip the cheese altogether. You won't miss it that much.)

Ricotta -- Should I be calling this something clever, like "RiNotta"? Oh well.
2 pkgs tofu (28 oz total), extra firm
1/4 c nutritional yeast
1 T, heaping, dried basil
1/8 c olive oil
4-5 minced garlic cloves

Mash everything together in a big bowl, and set aside while you prepare your veggie filling.

Veggie Filling
2 T olive oil
1 pkg frozen butternut squash. (Normally, I would use fresh, but it's still pretty spendy in these parts--not quite yet in season--and I was [as usual] short on time. Sue me.)
1 c frozen corn kernels
1 large onion, thinly sliced
3-4 minced garlic cloves
1 head curly kale, chopped
Thyme and marjoram to taste
A few splashes of Bragg's

Saute onion in oil with garlic until translucent. Add squash and herbs and cook 2-3 minutes. Stir in kale and corn, add some Braggs, and cook until kale is softish and dark green. It can finish cooking in the oven.


Lightly oil a casserole dish.  Open the can of tomatoes and spoon about 1/4 of them directly into the pan. Spread around to cover the bottom in a thin layer. Layer half the noodles on top. Don't worry if they need to overlap a bit. It doesn't matter, and what are you going to do with leftover lasagna noodles? Nothing. So don't waste them. Spoon 1/2 of the tofu mixture on top of the noodles, then cover that with half the veggies. Add 1/2 cup of water to the can of tomatoes and stir, then spoon 1/2 of that mixture onto the veggies. Sprinkle with 1/2 your cheese. Repeat with the second layer: Noodles, ricotta, veggies, tomatoes, cheese. Cover the pan with aluminum foil. This is an important step as it traps the moisture for the noodles to absorb instead of releasing it into the oven. Cook 1 hour and 20 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

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