Grandma puts green stuff in it!

We’re planning a family party to celebrate granddaughter Elyn’s ninth birthday, son Dean’s 44th birthday and Grandpa’s 70-something birthday. Grandpa is my husband Jim, who is called, “Papa Jim,” or “Papa Daddy” by the clan.

All three birthdays are within days of each other so we’re having one big blast before all 10 of us go to see Elyn in her Christmas Pageant at St. Michael’s Lutheran Church in Bloomington, Minn.

When it was decided that the main course for the birthday dinner would be lasagna, Elyn quickly spoke up. “Can Grandma make it?” she asked her mother, Sheri. “Grandma puts green stuff in it and I like that.”

How sweet it is to hear a 9-year old say she likes the “green stuff,” when the green stuff is spinach! Elyn is not alone. The entire family loves my lasagna which does indeed have spinach as one of its layers. A huge pan went in the freezer yesterday and is ready for the oven as party time nears.

A double batch in a 12x15-inch pan

This is “Vegetable Lasagna,” and it is the best lasagna recipe that has ever crossed my path. No other lasagna I’ve made sets up like this one does.

We, however, are not vegetarians so I cheat and add hamburger of the buffalo variety — raised by my nephew, Mike, in north central North Dakota. The spinach also is my own addition. Many lasagna recipes call for cottage cheese but this one has ricotta cheese which in my opinion makes it so fabulous.

If you are already planning menus for around Christmastime you may want to try this lasagna. It’s so nice to prepare ahead of time and then freeze. You can pop it in the oven just before going sledding at Lincoln Park and come home to a great dinner complemented with Texas toast and a lettuce salad.

VEGETABLE LASAGNA

  • 1/2 package (8 oz.) lasagna noodles, uncooked
  • 8 ounces sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 3/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 to 3/4 container of fresh spinach (my addition)
  • 1 pound hamburger (my addition)
  • 2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 (26 oz.) jar pasta sauce (I use Prego chunky garden)
  • 1 teaspoon oregano leaves
  • 1 (15 oz. or 16-oz.) container ricotta cheese
  • 3 cups (12 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Cook lasagna as package directs. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In large saucepan, over medium heat, cook hamburger, mushrooms, green pepper, onion and garlic in oil until tender. Stir in pasta sauce, basil and oregano. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Combine ricotta, 2 cups mozzarella and eggs; mix well. Spread 1/2 cup sauce on bottom of greased 13×9-inch baking dish. Top with half each the lasagna (overlapping in dish), ricotta cheese mixture, spinach, more sauce and Parmesan cheese. Repeat layering except for spinach. I just do that layer one time. Top with remaining 1 cup mozzarella. Cover; bake 45 to 50 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Uncover. Let stand 15 minutes. Garnish as desired. Refrigerate leftovers.

 Make-Ahead Directions

Prepare recipe as directed, but do not bake. Cover with plastic wrap, then foil. Refrigerate up to 24 hours or freeze up to 2 months. Remove plastic wrap; replace foil. Bake refrigerated lasagna 350 degrees about 40 to 50 minutes; frozen lasagna at 350 degrees about 2 hours or until hot and bubbly. (Times given are approximate).

If you decide to try it, let me know how yours turns out. Don’t forget the green stuff. Happy Eating!

Until Soon

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