New Here? Read The Story behind the Box

Thursday, April 28, 2011

keeping my nose above water

After my little panic session about our calendar yesterday, and having an unexpected three hours alone this morning, I decided to try to get ahead on some cooking. And catch up on some vegetable consuming. I managed to make a batch of scones, a pan of granola bars, some roast cauliflower, and two lasagnas. I may enter an exhaustion-induced coma and end up missing all of the activities we have coming up, but at least my family will eat.

And I will start to see some space in my refrigerator. Somehow this week we haven't done that great of a job of using up all the vegetables we got in the box. It wasn't the variety itself... there wasn't anything weird or that I don't like. It was partly that the veggies are starting to become summer vegetables that don't take much cooking (lettuces, tomatoes, green onions). The kids are really tough to sell on raw vegetables. It was partly that I have been running on fumes this week. When I am exhausted and trying to play catch up on things like laundry, housecleaning, and the kids' endless piles of papers from school, I am not feeling very creative or very ambitious. I just didn't look at the box as a fun challenge this week. Rather, I unpacked it in a rush (since it came about half an hour before we were due to have 25 family members over for brunch and Easter Egg hunting). It all got shoved wherever it could fit in a refrigerator that was overly full of party foods. Then, we had two days of Easter celebrating. Which meant that we were eating everything except the veggies.  On top of all that, we ended up with tons of extra food left over from the Easter brunch and dinner we hosted.

Regardless, the veggies are here and I need to find ways for us to eat them, or live forever with the guilt of letting them rot.

Somehow, I ended up with two large heads of lettuce, and a huge bag of spinach in my refrigerator.  After eating salads with every lunch and dinner for the past few days, I still have a ton of the greens.

Before the spinach could go bad, I decided to cook it up, and put it into a couple of lasagnas.

Here is how I make my very un-authentically Italian lasagna. I made two small lasagnas (one to freeze), but this recipe works equally well for one larger lasagna.

First, boil 12 lasagna noodles. There are several varieties of no-boil lasagna noodles available, but I haven't had much luck with them. I find that they often leave crunchy patches. If there is one thing lasagna shouldn't be, it's crunchy. When the noodles are done cooking, rinse them in cold water.

While that boils, wash and remove stems from the spinach. Then, steam it until it is wilty but not soggy. I went ahead and did this in the microwave.

Drain the spinach, and mix it together with two cups of ricotta cheese, two cups of shredded mozzarella cheese, and a cup of grated parmesan cheese.

You can make your own sauce, or you can use your favorite jar. Today, uninspired me used a jar. I am hoping that between my garden and my CSA box, I will get enough tomatoes this summer to make some sauce to keep on hand for the rest of the year. For now, though, a jar of Classico did the trick.

Once you have your cooked noodles, your cheese-spinach mixture and your sauce, you are ready to layer.

Begin by spreading a small amount of sauce in the bottom of the pans. This will prevent any of it from sticking.

Next, layer on the noodles.

On top of the noodles, spread about 1/3 of the cheese/spinach mixture.
Spread sauce on top of this, and continue layering in the same order two more times (for a total of 3 layers): sauce, noodles, cheese. Top it all with one last layer of sauce, and sprinkle on some more parmesan cheese.

That's it! Now you are ready to bake it, freeze it (this really long post has my tips for freezing dinners), or give it to a friend.

To bake it, preheat the oven to 350. Bake it, covered, for 20 minutes. Then uncover it and bake another 10 minutes.

I put one in my freezer, and the other is a little gift for a friend of mine. I hope she enjoys a night off of cooking dinner!