Tuesday, December 13, 2011
It was exciting to find a lasagne pasta made of brown rice so that I could prepare a gluten-free lasagne for people on a restricted diet AND while thinking about dietary needs of others, I decided to make this recipe for lasagne to be dairy-free as well. Did I have concerns how this recipe was going to turn out? You bet I did. Did I have concerns about how a lasagne without cheese would hold up in the cooking process? You bet I did, again.
I am happy to report that this lasagne with ground beef and sauted vegetables turned out to be one of the best tasting culinary experiments I have prepared. There was an abundance of flavor in this meat lasagne from the spiced-up seasonings used during the cooking of the ground beef. The sauted veggies of choice for this recipe added their own flavor and texture to the entire lasagne. How surprised was I? Very surprised and satisfied with this homemade creation.
Although I technically am not restricted to a gluten-free diet, I enjoy the wonderful new products appearing in the markets for those restricting gluten in their nutritional diets. A personal observation: when eating too much bread or white pasta, I find a bloated feeling after a meal and see more puffiness under my eyes. Again, this is just a personal observation. The same feeling is personally observed when eating a lot of dairy products. So, good to know that substitutions of ingredients still allows for a hearty flavor in favorite meals.
Noting here that I chose ingredients for this lasagne without promoting any products. I enjoy their flavors.
What you will need to prepare this dish:
Large pot with matching lid
Large cutting board
Wooden spoon, two
Large lasagne pan or high baking dish
Olive or Canola Oil spray
Lasagne pasta, gluten-free
Olive oil, 3-4 tbs for sauteing vegetables and ground beef.
Small onion, chopped
Garlic, 3 cloves, fresh and chopped
Carrot, 1 large, washed, peeled and grated
Red or Green pepper, 1 medium, washed and cut into small pieces
Butternut squash, 1 cup, fresh, cut into small pieces
Zucchini, 1 small, washed, cut into small pieces
Kosher salt, 1-4 tbs (add half of total amount during vegetable saute; add some salt to taste during cooking process after the ground beef is added but save some salt to add to boiling water for cooking pasta)
Black pepper, 1 tsp, crushed
Ground beef, 1 lb, lean OR White ground meat turkey, 1 lb.
Tomato sauce, one jar prepared tomato sauce of choice (with/without added herbs, but no cheese.)
Tomato paste, 4 tbs from tube or small can
Water, 1 cup, cold (add half of the water to determine thickness of mixture)
Tumeric, 1 tsp, powder
Smoked paprika, 1 tsp, powder
Oregano, 1 tsp, dried
Basil, 1 tsp, dried
Gluten-free bread crumbs
Lasagna Preperation Process:
Fill the large pot with cold water, put lid on the pot and put the pot on a stove burner, high heat, to bring water to a rolling boil. This will take 8-10 minutes depending on your stove temperature. When large bubbles appear in the boiling water, remove the lid, add some Kosher salt and carefully add the dried lasagne pasta. Stir gently to separate each noodle so they do not stick together.
When all the lasagne pasta is softer, but still firm, turn off the burner under the pot, put the colander in the sink and carefully lift the pot with pot holders and slowly drain the boiling water from the pot leaving the partially cooked lasagne pasta in the collander.
While the water is reaching a boiling temperature, preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
At this time put the large skillet on another stove burner, add the olive oil into the skillet and turn the burner under the skillet to medium-high heat. In a minute or two, carefully add the chopped onion and stir around the skillet with a wooden spoon. When the onions look softer add the rest of the vegetables and keep stirring the mixture. Add some of the Kosher salt and all of the crushed black pepper. Keep stirring the mixture with the wooden spoon.
When all the vegetables look softer, add the uncooked ground beef (or ground turkey), add all of the herbs, the tomato paste and continue to stir with the wooden spoon until the ground beef (or ground turkey) turns brownish, more firm looking texture to the meat. Then, add 3/4 of the jar of tomato sauce. (save 1/4 of the tomato sauce for the top of the lasagne before baking)
Keep stirring the mixture above and then add the water, as much as needed for the desired consistancy of the mixture. The mixture of vegetables, meat and sauce should not be too watery.
Turn the temperature under the skillet with cooking mixture to a low setting and keep stirring with the wooden spoon until cooking mixture is fully heated and bubbles begin to form in the mixture.
Turn the burner off under the skillet after the mixture is hot and bubbly.
Spray the large baking dish with some olive oil spray to keep the bottom of the lasagne from burning while baking.
The Layering Process Before Baking:
With a clean wooden spoon, add a little bit of the cooked mixture from the skillet to the bottom of the baking dish.
With tongs, carefully take several partially cooked lasagne pasta and put them on top of the first layer of cooked ground beef (or ground turkey) and vegetable mixture. Add a bit more cooked mixture on top of the lasagne pasta and repeat this process until the top layer is cooked meat and vegetable mixture.
Add a thin layer of gluten-free bread crumbs for a crunchy topping (optional)
Add last 1/4 of jar of tomato sauce to the top of the lasagna.
Put the baking dish on a clean baking sheet so oven will not get messed up if the cooking lasagne overflows with tomato sauce.
Put the baking sheet with the lasagne baking dish on it into the preheated oven.
Bake the lasagne for about 20-30 minutes until heated totally in the middle.
Cut the cooked lasagne into large squares and serve each individual portion with a spatula on a dinner place.