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Skillet Eggplant Lasagna
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How do you cook 4 vegetarian dinners per week and have none of them ever include tofu?  This skillet eggplant lasagna is one of my answers, my friends.  Last fall we made the decision to eat less meat for a variety of reasons (health, cost, carbon footprint) and to my surprise when I took a critical look at our menus from the past few weeks recently, I realized that more than half of our dinners have been vegetarian each week.  And I think what shocks me the most is that Kyle is no longer asking where the meat is in his meals!

We’ve been eating lots of quinoa and incorporating more beans as protein substitutes and boosting our vegetable intake by eating meals centered on portobello mushrooms and eggplant.  So it hasn’t been a diet of salads and I couldn’t be happier.  This recipe is one that I adapted to a veggie version by simply swapping out the ground beef, a traditional ingredient in lasagna, for eggplant.  Since eggplant can be a tricky vegetable to work with due to its high water content, I took the method from this eggplant pasta recipe (which we also loved) and used it for this recipe.  It added a little extra to the overall cooking time but the method works great since sauteing cubed raw eggplant can take forever and oftentimes results in a mushy mass.

And while I wouldn’t categorize this a healthy vegetarian recipe (what lasagna recipe is healthy?), plain and simple, it’s awesome.  Using broken-up noodles gives you the chance forgo all the laying that happens with a traditional lasagna and you’re using just one pot and few dishes so clean-up isn’t a disaster.  The fact that it’s loaded with mozzarella, ricotta, and Parmesan cheeses certainly doesn’t hurt either.  It’s a warm and hearty meal for the chilly and rainy fall days we’ve been having recently but I can certainly see this meal happening throughout the winter as well.

Spinach Lasagna
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Spinach Lasagna

There’s something intrinsic about lasagna that makes it such a wonderful winter meal.  It’s more than likely that oodles of cheesiness has something to do with how a great lasagna can warm the soul on cold winter nights, very much like how soup has the same effect, but I think that the right recipe can do so much more.  The right recipe creates memories.  It evokes memories of crowded Sunday dinners at the grandparents’, of a hearty meal after a day of sledding or ice skating, of a full buffet table at a christening or anniversary party.  This spinach lasagna recipe is that type of recipe.

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Made with a creamy béchamel sauce, three types of cheese, fresh spinach, and no-boil noodles that you’ll soften with hot water before using, this lasagna is a big hit around here.  It’s a fun recipe to make with a helper since there are a few steps, but the effort is well-worth the end result.  Layer after layer goes in the baking dish and after 20 minutes of baking and a few minutes under the broiler to brown-up the cheesy top layer, you’ve got truly the best spinach lasagna ever.  We’ve made this recipe a handful of times in the past year and always get the same reaction from whomever we serve it to: more please!  This is definitely a recipe we keep in our book of favorites and don’t hesitate to serve time and time again.