Monday, October 8, 2012

The Food Conservator Strikes Again

CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) season brings on my compulsive need to recycle food. Sometimes when I set out on my mission, I am totally uncertain about whether the noble act of using food multiple times in different ways will yield something edible. Most of the time, the results are tasty, even delicious; however, there are times that my concoctions and creations yield bites I simply tolerate. Last evening, when I assembled this new creation, I felt uncertain.

My challenge began with staring down a soup bowl's worth of leftover lemon-ricotta kale dip (recipe followed exactly except for the omission of the nutritional yeast). When I am faced with leftover dip, I grow concerned that it will squat in the refrigerator, eventually aging beyond palatability. Dip is something reserved for gatherings; it is not a member of my kitchen's regular food group. This dip also presented an extra challenge since Nan's initial reaction was "Ew--kale dip?" Fortunately, even though not her favorite, our dinner guests and I found it tasty.

When I pondered what to do with its remains, I zeroed in on the ricotta ingredient and thought, veggie lasagne. After all, the kitchen contained most of the needed ingredients: the CSA had delivered weeks of broccoli, yellow squash, and onions, and our harvest of garden tomatoes seemed endless.

What follows is a rough recipe/description of the process, since I didn't measure a thing. First, I made a very light tomato sauce, sauteeing a variety of tomatoes (complete with skin and seeds), onion, and garlic in olive oil. After cooking for approximately 15 minutes (until the tomatoes split apart and onions softened), I let it sit and cool to warm, thickening a bit, but without that thick consistency that tomato paste gives a sauce.

When I layered the lasagne, I only used a thin layer of sauce (enough to lightly spread on the layer without fully covering what's beneath). I did this with all the ingredients, layering but always leaving space where you could see between the layers.

Here is the order from bottom to top:
Sauce, lasagne noodles, ricotta-kale dip, scattering of raw vegetables (sliced mushrooms, broccoli pieces, diced yellow squash), shredded parmesan cheese
Sauce, lasagne noodles, ricotta-kale dip, vegetables, shredded parmesan cheese
Sauce, lasagne noodles, mozzarella cheese

Cook covered in foil. Remove foil for final browning. Seriously delicious and relatively easy. Plus, of course, you'll feel great that you have recycled ingredients into a new beginning.


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