Monday, April 6, 2009

Grilled Zucchini Lasagna

This lasagna is evil. Usually I say that and mean it's so good it needs to be locked away so that one isn't tempted to eat the whole thing. This time I actually mean it, this recipe is evil.

Several times while making it either the fella or I have had to leave the room or house, tensions run that high while trying to make it. It is a complicated little bugger. Getting the sauce the proper consistency, the noodles cooked just right, and zucchini grilled is enough to make the best cook rip out their hair. We learned after the first time not to bother making the roasted pepper ourselves, it just adds to the stress.

I've made much more intense and complicated recipes without losing my head so I'm not quite sure what makes this recipe so irritating. Probably doesn't help that the original recipe is written in confusing language bordering on gibberish, which is a problem with all the recipes in this particular book. Unfortunately the recipes in High Flavor Low Fat Vegetarian Cooking are so good we keep going back to it even after being tortured by it time and again. It's just we let 6 months or so go before we attempt to cook anything in it, which is about the amount of time it takes for me to forget how frustrated the recipes make me and decide it's a good idea to create one of them again.

The good news is the end result is almost worth all the effort. For a dairy free vegetarian recipe it does a very good job of faking the taste of a big cheesy high fat lasagna full of grease and other bad things. It's surprising what well seasoned sauce and grilled vegetables can achieved. It's rather filling and satisfying and went really well with the Cline Syrah. Then again I'm biased and have loved everything from Cline.

Cline is solar powered and self sustaining though not certified organic (they aren't all natural and that certification process is damn expensive.) Last summer the fella, his two sisters, and I went on a trek through Sonoma and had the best time at Cline. They had a farmers market of veggies grown on the grounds and the garden they do their tastings in is beautiful. I can't wait to go back soon.

Sadly only their very basic wines are readily available in Madison. Their Cool Climate Syrah is to die for but I haven't found a bottle of it since Sonoma. Their basic Syrah was a decent substitute, nice fruit and tannin balance. It was everything I expect out of a $10 California Syrah, it was easy to drink and not too big though I do love a fruity Australian monster Syrah just as much. When I'm in the mood for a particular varietal but can't make a decision I go for the Cline, all of their wines are winners. And they help take the edge off after waiting endlessly for dinner to finish cooking.

Grilled Zucchini Lasagna

4 roasted red peppers (homemade or from a jar)
1 tablespoon oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3/4 cup bread crumbs (we skipped this)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon saffron, soaked in a tablespoon of hot water
2/3 cup vegetable stock (1/3 cup if not using bread crumbs)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

6 medium zucchinis
2 teaspoons oil
9 whole wheat lasagna noodles
20 basil leaves

Roast, peel, core and seed the red peppers if roasting them yourself. Set aside.

Heat oil in large skillet over medium high heat, cook onion and garlic until soft but not browned, about 4 minutes. Combine peppers, onion mixture, and bread crumbs (if using) and puree to a smooth paste in a food processor. Add vinegar, saffron, and enough vegetable stock to make a thick sauce (it should be the consistency of soft ice cream.) Correct the seasoning, adding salt, pepper, cayenne and vinegar to taste.

Preheat a grill pan to high heat. Cut zucchinis lengthwise into 1/4 inch thick slices. Brush zucchini slices on both sides with oil and grill until limp, about 2 to 4 minutes per side.

Cook the lasagna noodles in rapidly boiling salted water for about 8 minutes or until al dente. Drain noodles and rinse with cold water.

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly oil a 8 by 11 inch baking dish. Spread 3 of the noodles over the bottom. Arrange 1/3 of the zucchini over the noodles. But 1/3 of the basil leaves over the zucchini, then 1/3 of the red pepper sauce on top of that. Make a second and a third layer in this fashion.

Bake the lasagna for 30 to 40 minutes or until thoroughly heated through.

Original recipe from High Flavor Low Fat Vegetarian Cooking.

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