Tag Archive | mushrooms

Roasted Vegetable Lasagna

Roasted Vegetable Lasagna

While other Canadian families were enjoying pot roasts for Sunday dinners, our Sunday treat was homemade lasagna, including fresh pasta made from scratch and we didn’t have it for dinner. On Sundays, we enjoyed a late lunch around two pm and then everyone fended for themselves for a light dinner, late snack.

Oh, how I looked forward to Sunday lasagna and we never tired of it. How could we? Pasta is the ultimate comfort food, and lasagna, well, it’s the ultimate comfort dish. More often than not, the lasagna was made in its simplest form: pasta sheets, tomato sauce, Parmesan, and mozzarella cheese. Every once and a while,  my mom would mix it up and add ground veal, miniature meatballs, hard boiled eggs, etc., but everyone’s favourite was the classic style, so delicious for no reason other than it was uncomplicated. Italian cooking at its best. Few ingredients, so fresh, that’s all you need.

We don’t buy store bought tomato sauce, which is why I don’t offer a recipe for it. Ours comes from mason jars and contains homemade, jarred sauce that’s made and preserved annually in the month of August, the height of tomato season. I’ll feature a recipe this year to be made with seasonal ripe tomatoes, so that you can have a taste.

The grilled/roasted veggies is my addition. My way of adding substance and heartiness (and of course, veggies). Taking the time to place only one type of vegetable per layer ensures the ultimate bite. This way, every bite contains: zucchini, peppers, mushrooms, and eggplant.

The drizzled, beaten egg is the addition of my genius mother. I like hard boiled eggs, but have never enjoyed them in lasagna and my husband absolutely hates them. Reluctant to eliminate them from her recipe, she started adding beaten eggs. She’s been doing it for years and none of us knew. You can’t detect them, but they definitely add something plus make the dish heartier. Now that the cat’s out of the bag, I’m going to hear it from the Mister, I’m sure.

One last thing, you’ll notice that though the mozzarella is ample in this dish, it’s not overloaded. Italians don’t layer their lasagna with mounds of cheese. It’s an important feature, but not the only one. Remember, it’s about balancing a handful of your freshest ingredients and allowing them to come together as one, not drowning the dish by overdosing on cheese.

When I take the time to make this dish, I double it up. Can’t tell you how nice it is to enjoy this on a week night. I made these lasagne sheets with my mom – the gift that keeps on giving. Thanks mom!

My favourite Italian dish is pizza, but this is without a doubt a close second. With the veggies, it’s a lighter alternative that has substance and the grilled/roasted aspect add a flare for the gourmet. As my mother says (my husband knows it well), “mangia!”

Roasted Vegetable Lasagna 2

Serves 6 -8

Ingredients:

 Lasagna sheets, fresh  10
 Tomato Sauce, prepared   20 oz
 Eggplant, medium – large  1
 Zucchini  3
 Mushrooms, oysters  8 oz
 Peppers, red and green, medium  2
 Parmesan, grated  1/4 cup
 Mozzarella, shredded  340 g
 Eggs, beaten  2

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. To roast the eggplant, line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice eggplant width-wise into quarter inch slices. Brush both sides with olive oil. Salt and pepper one side only. Place eggplant slices on baking sheet, so they don’t overlap.

For the zucchini, cut them width-wise into half inch disks. Place on a plate and drizzle lightly with olive oil, salt, and black pepper and toss. Line a smaller baking dish with zucchini ensuring all disks touch the paper and are laying flat.

Line a third, small baking pan with parchment paper. Place mushrooms on pan and drizzle them with olive oil, salt and black pepper and toss.

Place peppers whole on a small baking sheet.

Place all four pans in the oven. Bake/roast for approximately 45-60 minutes. Peppers will need rotating from time to time, so that all sides get charred. Keep an eye on them as they may be done at slightly different times. When peppers are done. Remove them from the oven and place them in a bowl covering them with plastic wrap. After they have cooled, approximately 10 minutes, they should be easier to peel.

I normally roast veggies from the day before to save on time. Alternatively, you can grill all vegetables on the barbecue.

3. Bring a medium pot filled 2/3 with water to a boil. Generously salt the water and bring to a rolling simmer. Two at a time, place lasagna sheets into pot. Move them around using a wooden spoon, so they don’t stick to each other. When the pasta sheets rise/float to the top, approximately 1-2 minutes, remove sheets from boiling water and transfer to a bowl with cold water. Continue, two at a time, until all lasagna sheets are cooked. 

4. To assemble, using a 11 by 16 baking pan, spread some tomato sauce on the bottom of the pan. Remove two sheets of lasagna, one at a time, from the bowl with water, running your hand down the sheets to remove as much of the water as possible. Lay both sheets down on the pan side by side until they touch.

Spread more tomato sauce on first layer of sheets. Follow with Parmesan cheese, egg drizzle, zucchini disks, and mozzarella cheese.

Repeat three more times, in the same order, but switching the zucchini with another vegetable in the following order: peppers, mushrooms, eggplant. I place the more watery veggies on the bottom for better cooking and to avoid a soggy lasagna. This method ensures that each of the four veggies encompasses each bite for that perfect bite!

The fifth layer, last layer, includes all the ingredients, including egg, but no veggie.

5. Cover lasagna with foil paper and bake for 20 minutes in a 375 degree oven. Remove foil paper and bake for another 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to set for 10 minutes. Serve with a side salad.

Polenta, Pomodoro & Oyster Mushrooms

Mushroom Polenta

I love polenta, but don’t make it often because all semblance of self-control seems to go out the door as I inevitably always end up overheating. It’s not so much the serving that makes it onto my plate (I won’t lie, it’s bigger than it should be), but more so what I tend to eat while I’m plating and then when I’m storing leftovers.

What can I say? It’s Italian comfort food at its best! I have such fond memories of watching my mom make this classic dish. Its golden colour, beyond creaminess, and extremely satisfying. In our household, it served as a bed for no other than our homemade tomato sauce, what I call liquid gold. Anything else would have been sacrileges.

What you are getting in this week’s recipe is actually two classic dishes
: polenta and pomodoro and pomodoro and oyster mushrooms. What a treat!

Though I make this dish as I was taught in the traditional way, with olive oil, parmigiano, and fresh herbs, I’ve changed it up this time to boost the protein content. Beware, though delicious, my mother would not approve. I kept the olive oil for richness, but instead of the parmigiano, I used nutritional yeast, added hemp seeds for protein, and chives instead of fresh herbs, as the pomodoro is amply aromatized with fresh rosemary, a very nice complement to the oyster mushrooms as well as the pomodoro. My mom was quick to tell me that basil would have, of course, worked better, but I disagree. Fresh basil is classic with pomodoro, but rosemary works better with oyster mushrooms. I’ve convinced her to give it a try.

As for the oyster mushrooms, normally they are sautéed in some olive oil and then the processed tomato wedges get added. It’s delicious, but the mushrooms tend to water down the pomodoro for a more liquidy consistency. I opted to cook both separately and added the mushrooms to the pomodoro at the very end after they were both fully cooked.

Truly, this is one of my favourite dishes and by far my preferred way to serve polenta. It’s creamy. It’s sweet. It’s chewy. So satisfying on so many levels.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

 Mushrooms:
 Olive oil  ½ cup
 Mushrooms, oyster  3 lbs (48 oz)
 Salt
 Black pepper
 Parsley, fresh, chopped
 Pomodoro:
 Tomato wedges  64 oz
 Olive oil  ½ cup + 2 tbsp (or 10 tbsp)
 Salt  1 tsp
 Black pepper
 Garlic, crushed, whole  3 cloves
 Rosemary, fresh  2 sprigs
 Polenta:
 Cornmeal  1 cup
 Water  4 cups
 Salt  ½ tsp
 Black pepper
 Olive oil  3 tbsp
 Hemp seeds  4 tbsp
 Nutritional yeast  1 tbsp
 Chives, fresh, chopped  10 grams (1/4 bunch)

1. To prepare the mushrooms, in a large pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add mushrooms, salt, and black pepper and cook until liquid is evaporated and the mushrooms start to caramelize, approximately 30 – 45 minutes. Remove from heat and garnish with parsley.

2. To make the pomodoro, process tomato wedges through a food mill or in a blender. In a medium pot, combine pureed tomatoes and olive oil and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add salt, black pepper, rosemary, and garlic. Cook for 45-60 minutes, or until thickened. The pomodoro should reduce by more than half.

3. For the polenta, in a medium pot, add salt, black pepper, olive oil and water and bring to a boil. Add cornmeal and nutritional yeast. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, using a whisk to stir constantly. Remove from heat and stir in chives and hemp seeds. 4. To assemble, divide polenta onto 4 plates. Top with pomodoro and mushrooms. Garnish with more parsley.

Mushroom & Kale Melt

Mushroom & Kale Melt

I recently visited Fresco Bistro with colleagues for a holiday lunch and had their open-faced mushroom melt consisting of leeks, baby spinach, portobello, cremini and oyster mushrooms, goat cheese and truffle oil. I rarely go to Italian restaurants, but do enjoy Fresco’s food from time to time and love that it always has a vegetarian option. My only complaint is that the portions seem to be getting smaller…

I’ll admit, I selected this option because it was the only vegetarian sandwich on the menu. I was excited because it is very common for Italians to feature cooked leafy greens in sandwiches, but have to admit that I had my doubts about how exciting this sandwich would actually be. I was pleasantly surprised. The sandwich was delicious, perfectly seasoned and my only complaint was that the portion was modest leaving me wanting more. The upside was that it left room for tiramisu!

So, here it is on my menu plan for the week for two reasons: I had 2 bunches of kale in my fridge from my veggie box delivery and because I couldn’t stop thinking about the flavour combinations.

My husband was not pleased when I forgot to defrost his meat inclusion for this sandwich, but surely went back for the second half… 🙂

Where do I begin with this sandwich other than to say it leaves you wanting more in spite of the fact that it is extremely filling. Mushrooms, kale, and gruyere are robust flavours that stand up to each other, but also work very well together. I am always looking for new ways to eat Kale and apart from Kale chips, which is my absolute favourite way to enjoy Kale, this is a close second. As tempting as it may be, be sure not to overload on the gruyere. I used it sparingly as a binder, to boost the protein content, but mostly as a flavour enhancer and coupled with the little hint of truffle-infused oil, this sandwich is pretty incredible.

Sandwiches have always been a challenge for me, as a vegetarian, but this one is big and bold and it rivals most traditional options. Thank you Fresco Bistro for the thought and consideration you give to creating your vegan/vegetarian options. The restaurant scene, though not fully there, is improving for us vegees. As much as I enjoyed my sandwich at the Bistro, I do prefer it with the kale and gruyere.

Serves 4 (with a side salad or 2 hungry people)

Ingredients:

Olive oil 4-6 tbsp
Mushrooms, oyster/cremini/king, sliced 2 lb
Leeks, chopped 2
Garlic, cloves, minced 4
Rosemary, fresh, chopped 1 tbsp
Salt
Black pepper
Kale, Dino/cavolo nero (not curly) 2 bunches
Gruyere, shredded 150 g
Baguette, multi-seed 1
Truffle-infused olive oil 4 tbsp

1. In a large saute pan, over medium heat, heat olive oil.

2. Add mushrooms and cook until mushrooms release their juices and most of the juices are evaporated.

3. Add leeks, garlic, rosemary, salt and black pepper and continue to cook until mushrooms and leeks are caramelized, approximately 10-15 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of water to a boil, season with salt and add kale. Reduce to a rolling simmer and cook for 4 minutes or so until the kale is cooked. Strain the kale and allow to cool. Once cooled, press out any excess water. Chop kale with a knife and set aside.

5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut baguette into 3 pieces diagonally. Slice 2 pieces in half lengthwise. Reserve third slice for another day. Toast baguette for 5-10 minutes until you reach desired crispness. Remove from oven and drizzle a spoon full of truffle-infused olive oil on each half slice of toasted baguette.

6. To assemble, divide the kale into 4 and top each toasted baguette with the kale. Place a little bit of the grated cheese on top of the kale. Follow with a good serving of the caramelized mushrooms. Finish with another sprinkle of cheese and freshly ground black pepper.

7. Place sandwich halves on a baking sheet in an oven preheated at 375 degrees until cheese is melted, approximately 2-4 minutes.