My toddler is going through an incredibly picky phase for eating. He only wants to snack, and he prefers if the snack is sweet. We limit processed foods, only offer water for drinks, etc. and I’m now having to be creative with food choices to get vegetables in his mouth. “Ick” is his new favorite term, and he will often “ick” something that he enjoyed just a few days before.
I assembled this recipe yesterday and baked for tonight’s dinner. You can make this gluten-free or grain-free by choosing the appropriate noodle. I used gluten-free oven-ready pasta to cut down on time. A plus is we have an over-grown basil plant in our front yard 🙂
Veggie + Cheese filling
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 large carrots, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 medium zucchini, chopped
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 5 to 6 ounces baby spinach
- 2 cups (16 ounces) low-fat cottage cheese, divided
- ¼ teaspoon salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Tomato Sauce (or prepared tomato basil marinara)
- 1 large can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes
- ¼ cup roughly chopped fresh basil + additional for garnish
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- no-boil lasagna noodles
- 8 ounces (2 cups) freshly grated low-moisture, part-skim mozzarella cheese
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
- To prepare the veggies: In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Once shimmering, add the carrots, bell pepper, zucchini, yellow onion, and salt. Cook, stirring every couple of minutes, until the veggies are golden on the edges, about 10 minutes.
- Add a few large handfuls of spinach. Cook, stirring frequently, until the spinach has wilted. Repeat with remaining spinach and cook until all of the spinach has wilted. Remove the skillet from the heat and set aside.
- Meanwhile, to prepare the tomato sauce: Drain off excess juice from tomatoes. Then, transfer the drained tomatoes to the food processor. Add the basil, olive oil, garlic, salt, and red pepper flakes.
- Pulse the mixture about 10 times, until the tomatoes have broken down to an easily spreadable consistency. Pour the mixture into a bowl to use later. Rinse out the food processor and return it to the machine.
- Pour half of the cottage cheese (1 cup) into the processor and blend it until smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer the mixture to large mixing bowl. No need to rinse out the bowl of the food processor this time; just put it back onto the machine because you’ll need it later.
- Transfer the cooked veggies and spinach mixture to the bowl of the food processor. Pulse until they are more finely chopped (but not puréed!), about 5 to 7 times, stopping to scrape down the sides as necessary. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of whipped cottage cheese. Top with the remaining cottage cheese, then add ¼ to ½ teaspoon salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Stir to combine. Now it’s lasagna assembly time!
- Spread ½ cup tomato sauce evenly over the bottom of a 9” by 9” baking dish. Layer 4 lasagna noodles on top (overlap their edges as necessary). Spread half of the cottage cheese mixture evenly over the noodles. Top with ¾ cup tomato sauce, then sprinkle ½ cup shredded cheese on top.
- Top with 4 more noodles, followed by the remaining cottage cheese mixture (we’re skipping the tomato sauce in this layer.) Sprinkle ½ cup shredded cheese on top.
- Top with 3 more noodles, then spread ¾ cup tomato sauce over the top (you may have a little sauce leftover) to evenly cover the noodles. Sprinkle evenly with 1 cup shredded cheese.
- Wrap a sheet of parchment paper around the top of the lasagna (or cover the lasagna with aluminum foil, but don’t let the foil touch the cheese). Bake, covered, for 20 minutes, then remove the cover, rotate the pan by 180° and continue cooking for about 10 to 12 more minutes, until the top is turning spotty brown.
- Remove from oven and let the lasagna cool for 15 to 20 minutes, so it has time to set and cool down to a reasonable temperature. Sprinkle additional basil over the top, then slice and serve.