Vegetable Lasagna( pl: vegetable lasagna) is an oven-baked Italian dish which is a combination of vegetables with pasta, cheese, herbs, and sauces arranged in alternative layers. . Broccoli and spinach are widely used in the lasagna, although other vegetables may be used as well. Health conscious individuals prefer low-fat vegetable lasagna made with whole-wheat noodles where the commercial cheeses are usually replaced with cottage cheese. The lasagna is best served warm with a tossed or green salad and is considered to be a main dish.
Lasagna made with only vegetables is lighter than the meat based ones and may be prepared with both the sautéed as well as the roasted form of vegetables. Zucchini, squashes and aubergines are favored in Italy and parts of Europe while the Americans often add carrots, baby onions and spinach to it. The choice of cheese varies from region to region too as does the method of layering and serving the dish. Tofu and asparagus along with soya chunks are added to the vegan version while the countries of East often make do with their own indigenous vegetables as the main ingredients of this pasta dish.
Vegetable lasagna can also be prepared by using ‘oven-ready’ lasagna sheets of durum wheat which are nutritious as well. Vegetable lasagna leftovers can be stored for future use if kept under refrigeration.
History of Vegetable Lasagna
There are several theories about the origin of lasagna with the most popular one being that it was originally a Greek dish which consisted of unleavened strips of dough topped with meat, vegetables, and cheese.
The Loselyn is a similar dish which was described in 14th century English cookbooks making food historians assume that it had originated in England. However, the origins remain debatable; but, the vegetarian version consisting of baked lasagna sheets topped with vegetables and cheese, is a relatively new variation. Its popularity has grown due to the advent of vegetarianism in recent times.
Overview of Vegetable Lasagna Recipe
The most popular form of preparing the vegetable lasagna is to chop assorted vegetables like broccoli, carrots, zucchini and bell peppers and sauté them in olive oil first. The sheets of pasta may also be boiled in water before being assembled. A thin layer of sauce, prepared by blending garlic, tomato puree, onions and Italian herbs like oregano and basil and sautéing them in olive oil, is spread out in a baking dish which is covered by several lasagna sheets. The sautéed vegetables and ricotta or mozzarella cheese are added on topped and the entire arrangement repeated in layers. The top most layer consists of a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and the dish is baked at 375 degrees for about half an hour. It is served after slicing it into squares.
Popular Vegetable Lasagna Recipe Variations
The vegetarian version of the lasagna can be prepared in a number of ways according to personal preferences. While the choice of vegetables provides variations in most recipes, the sauce as well as the variety of cheeses used also provide ample scope for experimentation. Some of the most popular variations of the vegetable lasagna include:-
Greek Lasagna- This is an extremely light dish made with lemons, artichokes and aubergines. It is considered to be an ideal dish for vegans as it does not contain any animal product.
Lasagne Florentine- This is a classic Italian dish made with spinach and cheese baked together with a creamy white sauce.
Goat Cheese Lasagna- This is a healthy variation of the traditional lasagna as it uses the low fat goat cheese and assorted vegetables including Yukon gold potatoes as the primary ingredient.
Mushroom Lasagne- Three different kinds of mushrooms are combined with cheese and garlic to make this nutritious lasagna dish.
Red Kidney Bean Lasagna- This is considered to be a healthy dish as it is prepared by combining tomato sauce and red kidney beans together with béchamel sauce. It is traditionally served with a green salad.
- Roasted Mediterranean Vegetable Lasagna- This is a traditional lasagna dish made with aubergines, bell peppers, and courgettes which are roasted before being placed on a lasagna sheet.
Nutritive Value of Vegetable Lasagna
Lasagna, cooked according to any standardvegetable lasagna recipe can be eaten as a main dish which provides a balanced meal containing carbohydrates, vitamins, fat, and proteins along with certain minerals, essential for the body.
The lasagna sheets and root vegetables like the potatoes, parsnips, and pumpkins contain carbohydrates; while nuts, seeds, cheese, tofu, and pulses provide adequate protein to the body. The green vegetables and tomatoes are vitamin rich ingredients and olive oil is considered to be extremely nutritious as well.
The finalists of the cookery show, ‘Top Chef All-Stars’ were asked to make their own version of spring vegetable lasagna in order to be judged as the winner.