Meatless Monday: Random Chatter + Vegetable Lasagna Recipe

     Hello World.  It has been a crazy whirlwind week for Eric and I.  For Eric it meant interviews in Cleveland, random calls at 6 am after weeks of nothing for substitute teaching jobs, landing another freelance job for an engineering firm, and working with my Dad and Brother on a giant flooring job.  For Eric a lot of randomness when all added up means he was very busy. My week just consisted of working at my current job full time, lunching with friends, and planning for an epic journey.  We are going on a fabulous road trip. It made me think how fortunate we are.  I will explain after a bit of random chatter that has been floating and flying around my brain over the past week.  Eric says I think too much and he may just be right.

     Living in a small town is at once awesome and at times very limiting.  I love the lack of heavy traffic, the quiet nights hearing nighttime sounds, the slow pace of life, being close to family. But the limiting part is the price paid.  I am speaking not only of having to plan the whole day around grocery shopping or hitting the town for dinner, (in our case which town because other than mexican, chinese, pizza, or chain burger joints our dining out choices here are very limited), but also attitudes. At times the little town mentality crowds around like a plague trying to push conformity to a certain way or even just an idea or way of thinking, if conformity doesn’t happen here comes the shunning like an Amish person that just decided to buy a hair dryer.  It is really funny and it gives you a good laugh when some people are so fake.  Eric told me once those kind of people aren’t friends to begin with.  He came to that conclusion once with ease.
     On the other hand there are pockets of good people everywhere but especially in and around our small town.  Like anywhere else there are people who love you for who you really are and value a person for their excellent qualities, not the things they possess.  They are the people about who the saying arose, they would give you the shirt off their backs. These are the people we have been spending time with recently, and is one of the reasons I am so fortunate.  Three years ago when my grandfather passed away I rekindled friendships with such people and made new friendships as well.  While on one front people I knew for years did not even speak to me to utter condolences, I watched as a childhood friend that I had lost touch with over a decade ago, involved her 3 children in feeding my family.  She and her family made 40 lbs of Puerto Rican rice and other such wonderful foods for our dinner afterwards.  Along with her husband, their children, and other friends of hers that we are privileged to call friends now, they busily and happily served my family food, thus helping to cure our saddened and weeping hearts.  Other people at the funeral spoke to me of the kind and sweet things that my grandpa did for them and out of these precious, sweet words, friendships developed and grew.  It is amazing what a few simple kind words at the right time can do for a persons spirit and inner peace. I am constantly grateful for these simple acts of kindness from these wonderful women and I mediate on them to this day.
     Last week on Thursday I had the privilege of eating a meal with all of these women mentioned. Many times I am invited to go out to lunch or to parties by these wonderful ladies and many times I am not able to go because I have to work.  It is a real bummer but I always think how they keep inviting me despite the many times work has interfered.  So last week I took it upon myself to invite them on one of my days off.  They all came.  It was wonderful, we talked about work, looking for work, facial line fillers, botax, how to hide dark circles, food, kids, travel, our next get together, and learning to speak a foreign language particularly Chinese.  It was a relaxing, stomach and soul filling day, as we exchanged ideas openly all while chowing down on some awesome Indian food and drinking my friend’s husband’s homemade wine.  Take that small town mentality! If I had been plagued by your prevalent wind, that day would not even have happened.  What does all this have to do with vegetable lasagna?  Nothing really, but I needed something for my meatless monday feature and I had a little bit of myself that I wanted to share.  I think when someone is loved and valued they deserve a shout out once in a while, otherwise how would anybody know the positive things we felt about them if we did not say?  It may have taken me awhile to say it aloud but after 3 years I am still so thankful for these fabulous women.
     I will be off the blogosphere for the next two weeks due to our road trip so I just combined everything into this one post.  We are embarking on a 4000 + mile trip to the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Arches National Park, Colorado and then home.  I may post a little something while on the road but I cannot guarantee it.  I hope my readers stay with me until then!  Due to all the packing, planning, and getting ready I do not have a picture for this recipe but it is really good. Try it out and let me know what you think.  Also if you are a loyal reader and have made it to the end of this post let me know anything you recommend we should see on our journey!


Vegetable Lasagna

Recipe by Jordan

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 5 tbsp flour
  • 5 cups milk
  • 2 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1-10oz package white cheddar cheese shredded
  • 1 box Barilla no boil lasagna noodles
  • 2 large carrots shredded
  • 1 medium zucchini shredded
  • 1 box frozen chopped spinach dethawed
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 1-16 oz container ricotta cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-8 oz package mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp rosemary

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350º.
  2. Make sauce: Melt 4 tbsp butter in 2 quart saucepan. Add flour and whisk to throughly combine. Cook over medium heat for 2 minutes while whisking.
  3. Add milk slowly one cup at a time, while whisking, to butter flour mixture. Cook until mixture comes to simmer over low-medium heat stirring frequently to avoid scorching.
  4. Add shredded white cheddar cheese, ( I prefer cabot brand extra sharp).
  5. Stirring frequently, cook for about 10-15 minutes allowing mixture to thicken until it coats the back of a spoon, (I mean it coats the back of the spoon and stays put. To test run index finger down the center of the back of a spoon coated with sauce, sauce does not come together at this point). Season with 1 tsp salt and nutmeg. Once thickened remove from heat and set aside.
  6. Prepare vegetables: sauté carrots, onions, and zucchini in a little olive oil until caramelized. Set aside.
  7. Squeeze all of excess water from dethawed spinach until it is very dry and flake apart. Set aside.
  8. Mix together ricotta, eggs, 1 tsp thyme, 1 tsp rosemary, black pepper, and 1 tsp salt.
  9. Assemble lasagna. In 13x9x2 sized greased pan place a thin layer of sauce. Follow with 1 layer of lasagna noodles, 1/3 of ricotta cheese mixture, 1/2 carrot mixture, mozzarella cheese, and finally sauce.
  10. Add another layer of noodles, 1/2 of remainder of ricotta cheese, all of spinach, mozzarella cheese, and sauce.
  11. Repeat step 9 using the last of the vegetables and ricotta cheese mixture.
  12. Top with final layer noodles, last of sauce and cheese.
  13. Bake at 350º for 50 to 60 minutes until golden brown and bubbly.
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