Pasta Please #10 - The Lasagne Roundup

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It was a pleasure to host Pasta Please for Jacqueline this month. This is an ongoing event celebrating pasta with a different theme each time. I went with vegetarian lasagna this month because it's always a crowd pleaser and when I eat pasta, it's one of my favorite comforting ways to serve it up. Now it's time to have a look at the tempting submissions. Thanks to everyone who sent in their creative dish. Four of the submissions include squash, so I suppose it's also a lasagne roundup featuring squash.

First up is this Kid-Friendly Healthy Vegetarian Lasagna from Amy of Fit and Fabulous After 40. This dish is "just right" we are told and I have no doubt. It's also a good way to sneak in some vegetables that your kids might not ordinarily eat. Onion, courgette, carrots, basil, oregano, turmeric, soya mince and basil tomato sauce make up the vegetable base, and then comes together with a creamy b├ęchamel sauce along with mozzarella. Lots of layers of goodness on this plate.

vegetarian lasagna

I'm up next with my signature Vegetarian Mushroom and Spinach Lasagna. I've perfected it over the years and it never fails to please. Homemade succulent mushroom and vegetable tomato sauce with carrots, celery, jalapenos, garlic and fresh herbs and a bit of spice nestle in with fresh noodles, lightly wilted spinach, creamy ricotta, parsley and fontina cheese; then the whole dish is topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. A balanced elegance and pure comfort is what you will experience when you try this, and happy diners too.

vegetarian mushroom and spinach lasagna

Caroline came up with a Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Lasagna that certainly has me hungry as I imagine the layers of textures and flavors going on here. Sweet potato and butternut squash snuggle in with the noodles and a white sauce made up of Parmesan, ricotta, egg yolks, milk and nutmeg. The dish is then sprinkled with bread crumbs. I'm certainly intrigued by the idea of squash in a lasagna.

squash lasagna

And on the subject of squash, our next submission from Shaheen of Allotment 2 Kitchen also features this mighty vegetable. Pull up a chair and consider serving this lovely Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagna next time you want to feed a small crowd or have leftovers on hand, because leftover lasagna is fantastic. A rich bechamel sauce that includes cheddar cheese and herb and garlic tones, comes together with the noodles, squash, spinach, parsley and some additional cheese. I can almost taste it.

butternut squash lasagna

Yet more squash in this tempting Vegetarian Lasagna with Butternut Squash and Kale from Morgan of Peaches Please. This luscious pan of goodness won't fail to provide comfort on a cold autumn day. Squash is roasted with olive oil, nutmeg and seasoning, kale leaves are tossed with red wine vinegar, a buttery milk sauce with shallot, sage and tarragon is simmered up, ricotta is mixed with balsamic and then it all comes together with some sliced apples and Mozzarella. Such an intriguing flavor profile in this dish. Yes please.

fall lasagna

Our final submission is from Claire of Chez Cayenne. Served up is this rich and comforting Greek Eggplant Lasagna and it's vegan too. Moussaka inspired, this creative dish includes a tomato sauce with onion, garlic, ground round, cinnamon, allspice, black pepper, and red pepper flakes and a b├ęchamel sauce with almond milk, vegan Parmesan and nutmeg. The noodles get cozy with the sauces and slices of eggplant. I bet seconds were in demand. Serve with a crispy green salad and a glass of wine.

vegan greek lasagna

And that concludes the roundup. Jacqueline is hosting the event next month and the theme is going to be mushrooms, so I'm excited of course. Stay tuned for the announcement on Jac's blog.

Spicy Pesto Guacamole

pesto guacamole

My tried and tested guacamole has always received rave reviews from my guests, but I wanted to step things up a notch this time around and, after seeing a few recipes for pesto guacamole, I was sold on the idea, especially as there was basil from my backyard that I wanted to use and I have never been known to turn my nose up at pesto — and certainly not at guacamole. As tends to happen in my kitchen, this one is spiced up.

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Mushroom Masala (Succulent Mushrooms with Tomatoes and Spices)


Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
mushroom curry

Mushrooms of any shape and variety are welcomed with open hands and a ready fork in my kitchen, and when I spice them up, as I did in this curry, bliss enters the equation.

This happens to be an ideal curry to serve alongside some savory bites, such as samosa or pakora. It works just as well as any sauce that you might make on the side to go along with your favorite savories. Needless to say, it is also divine served as a side with dal, rice and any Indian flat bread that you might fancy. My only regret is that I didn't double the recipe. Surely this dish will now become a staple in my kitchen.

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Roasted Broccoli with Miso-Tahini-Tamari Sauce

roasted broccoli with miso, tahini and tamari

Good for you? Of course, and I'll happily munch on a few raw florets or pieces of the crunchy stalk myself, but broccoli is one of those vegetables that seems to need a little help to make it more appetizing for many people. Fortunately, that's really easy to do by roasting it and dressing it with a simple sauce.

Roasting broccoli brings out a lively sweet flavor that you may never know the vegetable had — far more intense than the slightly washed out taste of steamed or broiled broccoli. And roasting it also brings out an attractive vibrant green color and pretty contrasts in the slightly charred tips that make broccoli an even more appealing vegetable to put on the plate.

A plate of roasted broccoli may be quite appealing as it is, as far as I'm concerned, but after having gone through the only very slight trouble of roasting it I like to enhance it with a drizzle of a fresh and equally trouble-free sauce, like this easy-to-make, no-cook and big flavor Asian-style made with miso, tahini and tamari sauce and spiked with fresh ginger and a little cayenne for a bit of a kick. So simple and nourishing besides, you can put the sauce together while the broccoli is roasting for a delicious and healthy plate that takes no more than 30 minutes from start to finish. I served this with pan-fried teriyaki mushrooms and cashews for a lovely and simple light dinner.

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Cherry Nut Bars

fruit and nut energy bars

We all know a few nut bars, but this post is about the good nuts lurking in your pantry. Enter these cherry pie bars with almonds and pistachios that are perfectly portable and energizing. No added sweetener here — just the goodness of dried fruit coupled with nourishing raw nuts. After making up some of these quick and easy bars, never again will you want to return to expensive and usually inferior store-bought varieties. Knowing what's in your food and, by extension your body, is one of the keys to good health.

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Pumpkin and Carrot Split Lentil Soup


Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
pumpkin carrot soup

It's soup season and just in time a new cookbook arrived at my door that I can't wait to explore in more depth. Great Homemade Soups: A Cook's Collection by Paul Gayler ought to keep me going all year round when I'm in the mood for soup, whether it be a cold wintery day or a sweltering hot one.

It truly is a soups masterclass and everything you ever need to know about the basics are pretty much covered in the book, complete with gorgeous photos and gourmet soups that are far easier to make than they look. Learn all about making perfect stocks, garnishes and toppings, and refined and subtle broths. Consommes, smooth and creamy bowls of goodness, hearty and wholesome, wild and exotic and traditional and chilled too are on the menu. And not only do we get Chef Gayler's expert instructions and recipes, he also features some choice soups from fellow chefs. Over 100 nourishing soups from around the world are served up with distinction and they won't break your grocery budget either.

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Crusted Cornmeal Chickpea Potpie


Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
chickpea potpie

Pies have certainly been appearing on my menu more often as the temperature shifted from hot to warm to downright chilly. Comfort foods are certainly in order, especially for the cook who also gets to enjoy the warmth of the oven and the smell of pie. Apart from the aroma of baked bread or perhaps a simmering curry, there's nothing better to stimulate the appetite and bring joy to the kitchen.

I doubt I have ever met anyone who didn't enjoy pie of some sort, whether sweet or savory. My personal preference is for the savory variety and I have been cooking and baking a few lately. I'm not one to snub my nose at a fruit pie either, but my sweet tooth is not what it used to be.

This excursion into the kitchen was inspired by Joanne who is the cook, photographer and mind behind Joanne eats well with others. Her chickpea potpie with cornbread crust was just too much to resist and I made it happen in my own kitchen to share with special others.

cornmeal chickpea vegetable potpie

I liked the essential ingredients in the recipe, and the cornbread crust was appealing to me because it is easier and faster than making pie crust from scratch. I've made a cornmeal-crusted chili, a longtime classic that is somewhat similar with a different filling. My changes to Joanne's recipe were essentially to spice it up, because I tend to do that! The spicing will be familiar to cooks that are always reaching for spices that make Indian cooking so unique and appealing. Let us call this one an Indian-style fusion dish. It's quite filling and packed full of fall vegetables and filled out further with buttery soft chickpeas.

chickpea vegetable potpie filling

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Classic Southern-Style Buttermilk Biscuits

buttermilk biscuits

Whenever I make biscuits or scones, they are received with ready hands and open mouths at the dinner table. Over the years, I have made countless varieties, mostly savory, but sometimes slightly sweet when berries make it into the mix. I've been perfecting the art along the way and these are my latest offerings. If you want a perfect flaky biscuit, these just might be it. They come together in hardly anytime at all and you don't even need a rolling pin — simply handle the dough with care and love, pat it down and cut into rounds after mixing it all up.

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Mixed Dal Palak (Lentils with Spinach and Tomato)


Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
mixed lentil dal

There are times when I crave a simple meal and not just because I don't have enough time to cook something more elaborate. In this case, simplicity is bliss. Humble ingredients and spices come together here for a complete palate experience, not to mention a tantalizing aroma. As the heat and textures build up with each spoonful, this dal is sophisticated despite the relative modesty of its components.

Gritty toor dal and spinach add a unique texture and earthy flavor to the dal, but feel free to use any lentils you may have on hand. To complete the meal, serve with a bed of steamy hot rice and some Indian flat breads. No need to complicate the experience.

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Vegetarian Mushroom and Spinach Lasagne

vegetarian mushroom lasagne

You're a vegetarian, guests are coming over for dinner, and you know that at least one of those diners is an avid carnivore — the fuss and fidgeting begins as you start in on a meal plan. I think most longtime vegetarians have come across that nagging question posed by meat enthusiasts: just what do you eat anyway? Visions of bland salads and blocks of tofu dance uncomfortably in the minds of the skeptical. Of course, a cook wants everyone to come to the table excited and leave it satisfied.

vegetarian lasagna

Bring in this lush vegetable and mushroom lasagne. One of the earliest one-dish meals that I perfected shortly after becoming a vegetarian, the staunchest meat lovers surely wouldn't throw away their forks in frustration — unless of course, they detest succulent mushrooms in a rich and zesty fresh tomato sauce and generous slices of cheese tucked into delectable sheets of pasta noodles. It's been a classic to serve up for a long time and I've perfected the dish over the years to make it even more tempting with additional layers of flavors.

Light and creamy ricotta pairs well with the more robust and earthy textures and flavors present in this dish resulting in a sumptuous meal with a balanced elegance.

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Vegetarian Thanksgiving Entertaining Ideas

Vegetarian Thanksgiving Entertaining Ideas

Thanksgiving Day was first set aside in North America to celebrate the harvest bounty of the New World. It's a useful reminder for those of us modern-day urban-dwellers accustomed to enormous supermarkets that shelves and shelves of inexpensive food couldn't always be so easily taken for granted. It seems appropriate that as we give thanks for being able to spend a day with family and friends, we celebrate with food … and usually plenty of it!

These are some of my favorite fall entertaining ideas from the hundreds of recipes I've published over the years. From breakfast or brunch through to snacks and appetizers, dinner ideas, soups, salads and side dishes, and — of course — treats and desserts, there's something for every vegetarian or any family with vegetarians to feed at Thanksgiving. There are even some ideas in there for vegans or those who want to try an Indian-themed Thanksgiving dinner for a different experience. Your family and friends just might be giving thanks for your cooking at the end of the day!

Check out these and other menu ideas on vegetarian Thanksgiving menu ideas

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Tuscan Grape and Rosemary Focaccia (Schiacciata a l'Uva)

Grape and Rosemary Focaccia

With market tables and bins groaning under the weight of an extraordinary abundance and variety of local produce, late summer and early fall are truly wonderful seasons for cooks in southwestern Ontario — I daresay that almost every fruit, vegetable, green and herb that I've cooked with over the past few months has been grown locally, sometimes as locally as my own backyard! One of the treats that I look most forward to every fall harvest are baskets of gorgeous deep blue Coronation grapes. Sweet, tangy and juicy, these colorful little gems — sometimes known just as "blue grapes" — are essentially a variety of Concord grapes with all the glorious Concord grape flavor but without seeds, making them perfect and easy for snacking on.

And snack on the first few baskets I always do, but I'm also on the hunt for ideas to incorporate them into recipes as well to showcase their unique taste in something more elaborate than a snack bowl. This recipe has been hiding in my draft folder for several months now, long since the last time blue grapes were in season, but now that I've gone through several baskets of this year's crop it was time to put it together in this savory and just slightly sweet Tuscan focaccia bread with rosemary, toasted pine nuts and olive oil — or what everyone else in Italy calls focaccia but is called schiacciata or "flattened down" in Tuscany.

This traditional bread is made during the wine grape harvest in Tuscany, and I suspect that it's made not so much in celebration of the harvest as for a snack to keep the vineyard workers going during the day. For us non-vineyard people, it's a wonderful light fresh leavened bread speckled with beautiful circles of purple and a surprisingly tasty combination of the grapes and fresh rosemary. My husband and I were delighted both with the taste and the soft texture of the bread interspersed with little crunchy toasted pine nuts. We ate this for dessert, for a late-night snack, and for breakfast the next day!

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Chana Chaat (Tangy and Tart Chickpea Salad)


Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
tangy and tart chickpea salad

Anyone who has been following my cooking space will know how much I adore Raghavan Iyer's cookbooks. Sadly, I have not had an opportunity to enjoy his creations first hand, but thanks to his hard work and books, I can at least try to recreate his ideas in my own kitchen and he has never failed me. 660 Curries is one of those desert island books that I could not part with. If I do end up on a desert island, I can only hope the makings of a good Indian meal are present … otherwise, I can dream.

This recipe is adapted from his latest release, Indian Cooking Unfolded, and a gem it is. Especially suited to those who are new to Indian cooking, or just starting to learn the fundamentals of cooking, this is a must-have for your shelves. Now, I am a vegetarian, and this book is not strictly so, but there are plenty of vegetarian friendly recipes to try and many others that can be adapted. The book is about using staples from your fridge and pantry, including leftovers. That's welcome for a cook such as myself as at any given time I have vegetables that I don't want to go to waste, various spice blends and sauces calling out for attention, and more often than not I don't want to be bothered running out to the store when I really need a fairly quick and satisfying meal solution.

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Pasta Please #10 - Lasagne

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My treasured friend Jacqueline who cooks, writes and shares her photos at Tinned Tomatoes has been running an ongoing event celebrating pasta. Each month there is a different theme with guest hosts helping out some months. I'm pleased to be hosting Pasta Please for October.

Truth be told, I don't cook pasta all that often, but when I do, there is nothing better than the comfort of noodles smothered in thick tomato or cream sauce, adorned with vegetables and seasonings that suits the cook's mood. Served up with some crusty bread and salad on the side, well, that can be heaven.

After some thought, I'm asking for your favorite vegetarian lasagne recipe. Though it might require a bit more fuss than other pasta-based meals, lasagne for me was one of the earliest dishes I really learned how to cook after becoming a vegetarian and one that certainly appeals even to those who enjoy meat. I'm always looking for new ideas and am excited to see what readers share, especially as it is getting cooler and warming layered pasta dishes certainly appear more often on my table.

lasagna

To contribute this month, all you need to do is come up with a vegetarian lasagne, post about it on your blog, link to Tinned Tomatoes and my page in your post and then add your recipe via the linky tool at the end of this post by the 28th of the month. Please include the logo in your post.

Note, your submission must be vegetarian as this is a vegetarian site, and please only one entry per blogger. If you use twitter, tweet your post with @LisaTurner22 and #PastaPlease and I will re-tweet it to my followers.