The crisp autumn wind that blew in last week made me want to cook comfort food. However, since we are heading to Southeast Asia for the first time next weekend, my main mission has been to cook meals to boost our immune systems (a tip I read for combatting tummy troubles while traveling in a new region). So while everyone knows I’d prefer a nice lamb bolognese or beef chili, I’m here to prove I can cook vegetarian meals that fill the “comfort” quota as well.
I settled on a roasted vegetable pesto lasagna. This was a bit of a process, but since I’d rather spend more time and do less dishes, I roasted the veggies separately. If you have a big pan or a dishwasher, it would be easy to throw them all in together, effectively cutting the cooking time down. Totally up to you. Me? I began roasting the red peppers and mushrooms.
Roast red peppers at 500 for 20-30 min.
Roast mushrooms at 475 for 10-15 min.
The mushrooms and red peppers supposedly need to be heated at a higher temperature than the rest of the vegetables I chose, although I maintain that throwing them all in one pan together would work just as well. If they’re a little undercooked, that’s okay, because everything will go back into the oven at the end.
Roast other veggies at 400 for 20 min.
Boil the lasagna for 10 min
In addition to mushrooms and red peppers, I roasted zucchini, cherry tomatoes, red onions and garlic. I also went with a whole wheat lasagna because that’s what we had in the house; whatever type of lasagna tickles your fancy will work just fine. Next up, the pesto:
Basil, parmesan, walnuts, garlic, olive oil
Then mix and add cream until smooth.
I know a lot of people make pesto with pine nuts, but I’ve seen it done many time with walnuts, which are healthier and (again) what I had lying around the house. So I processed the basil leaves with the parmesan, walnuts, olive oil and garlic, then added cream until it was smooth.
(In retrospect, I would have added more salt to the pesto itself instead of just seasoning the veggies as I built the lasagna, but hindsight is 20/20, no?)
Then start building the lasagna.
After I chopped up all the veggies and mixed them together, I built the lasagna like this: pesto, pasta, veggies, pasta, pesto, veggies, pasta, pesto, mozzarella/parmesan. I read a lot of recipes that included ricotta cheese, but since I was using creamy pesto, I skipped that step. I’d rather have twice the mozzarella if we’re being honest. And I did:
Top with fresh mozzarella and parmesan.
Then into a 375 oven until cheese is bubbly.
I cracked a little pepper, threw a little salt, then popped my super-sexy tin foil lasagna pan into the oven at 375 until the cheese began to bubble bubble. This dish made a great little dinner for me, plus lunch for both me and mi amor the next day.
Served here with an arugula salad.
Healthy? Check. Comforting? Check. Delicious? Double check. Traveller’s tummy? Bring it on, Thailand; we’re ready. POP POP.