We’ve been trying to heed the advice of many nutritionists by cutting back on the amount of meat we’re eating. Mark Bittman makes the case for “vegan before dinnertime“, but we found that a little too restrictive since we like the occasional cold-cut sandwich for lunch. So we’ve modified the philosophy by trying to eat meat at only one meal per day; so far it has worked out pretty well.
Stuck on what to do with a boatload of veggies the other day, I realized I had everything I needed for ratatouille. As exciting as stewed vegetables sound, we wanted something a little more substantial for dinner. As it happened, I also had no-boil lasagna noodles — hmm, would subbing ratatouille for the meat in my lasagna recipe work? As it happens, it works marvelously!
For the ratatouille, I used Alice Waters’ recipe from The Art of Simple Food. You could use any recipe (this one is good) as long as you remember to chop your vegetables on the small side. Most recipes call for a 1/2 inch dice, but that is a little too chunky for a lasagna filling. Even though you’ll probably only need half of a recipe, make the whole thing so you have something to snack on the next day.
Buy a box of Barilla no-bake lasagna noodles (yes, I’m being specific with the brand for a reason — they’re just better) and follow the directions for their lasagna, using your favorite tomato sauce recipe. Mine is simple — a box of Pomi strained tomatoes with a little olive oil and salt stirred in (it’s going to cook in the oven).
If you want to make it vegan, leave out the cheese; but I like cheese, so I mixed a one pound tub of ricotta with a healthy grating of pecorino romano, a pinch of fresh nutmeg, some grated mozzarella, and one egg to use for the layering.
Wherever it called for ground meat, I subbed the ratatouille in assembling it in a greased 9×13 baking pan. Bake it, covered in foil, for 55 minutes at 375. Remove the foil, add some more grated mozzarella and return to the oven for 5-10 minutes more.
It’s a great way to turn veggies into a filling dinner and will probably be a staple around here for a while.