This time of year, my biggest dilemma seems to be wanting to eat comforting, hearty dishes to welcome in the cool fall breeze, but still finding an abundance of gorgeous summer vegetables at the local farmers markets.
Alright, you got me, that’s an overstatement. But it would be nice if it were true, because this recipe would provide the perfect solution for the fat, royal purple eggplants and vivid zucchini and summer squash. And then I wouldn’t have anything to worry about. Until 16 varieties of pumpkin and winter squash start showing their plump faces, and I institute some kind of personal competition with me, myself, and I to see how many I can eat in one week.
But we’re not there yet. For now, we can still enjoy summer’s beautiful bounty, in recipes like this one, adapted from Clean Eating Magazine. There are no noodles, but we’re calling it a lasagna. (Which reminds me, that as a food blogger, my true biggest dilemma is and will always be how to photograph a casserole in such a way to make it look appetizing. Have I gotten any closer?)
Still, it’s a lasagna, because we’re layering a rich, hearty cheese filling with decadent vegetables. Maybe you don’t think of vegetables as decadent, but that’s what they become when you roast them first, as it brings it out their full flavor and natural sweetness. And maybe you think that a “rich, hearty cheese filling” would involve lots of full-fat cheese and eggs; this one relies on creamy cottage cheese and a boost of satisfying chickpeas with a touch of sharp pecorino for full flavor effect. Of course, there’s a layer of melted cheese on top, cooked to the point of almost burning, but not; just satisfyingly brown and bubbly.
Another reason I’m sure it’s lasagna? It makes for wonderful lunchtime leftovers, even cold.
Summer Vegetable and Chickpea Lasagna
Adapted from Clean Eating Magazine, August/September 2011
1 large eggplant (about 1 1/4lbs), cut into 1/4″ rounds
1 large or 2 small zucchini (about 3/4lb), cut into 1/4″ rounds
1large or 2 small summer squash (about 3/4lb), cut into 1/4″ rounds
1 3/4 cup cooked chickpeas (from 1/4lb dried chickpeas, see note below)
1 cup chopped sweet onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups (12oz) low fat cottage cheese
6 oz shredded part-skim mozzarella, divided
1 oz grated pecorino romano cheese
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/4 cup minced fresh basil
Fresh basil for garnish
Preheat oven to 375ºF. Spray 2 baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray and arrange the sliced eggplant, zucchini and summer squash in a single layer. Spray the vegetables lightly with more cooking spray. Roast for 30 minutes, turning halfway through. Remove from oven and allow to cool. (Tip: this step can be done a day ahead of time; store the vegetables, covered, in the refrigerator.)
If you prepared the vegetables the day before, turn the oven on to 375ºF to preheat.
Place the chickpeas in a mixing bowl and mash lightly with a potato masher, leaving some larger pieces.
Cook the onion in a nonstick skillet over medium heat for five minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute. Transfer to the bowl with the mashed chickpeas, and add the cottage cheese, half of the mozzarella cheese, pecorino, oregano, and basil. Mix well.
Lightly coat an 8×8″ baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange 1/3 of the roasted vegetables, overlapping the slices. Top with half of the cottage cheese and chickpea mixture. Add another layer of 1/3 of the vegetables, followed by the remaining cottage cheese and chickpeas. Finish with the last 1/3 of the vegetables (you should have three layers of roasted vegetables alternated with 2 layers of cottage cheese filling.) Sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella cheese. Bake for 30 minutes, until cheese is golden and bubbling. Let stand for 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving.
Note: Using beans that you cook from scratch is healthier and more economical and using canned beans, and it’s easier than you might imagine. Place 1lb of dried chickpeas (picked through to remove any broken ones) in a slow cooker and cover with water (add enough water to cover the beans by several inches). Cook on low for 7 hours. I like to do this overnight. Drain the chickpeas and divide into 1 2/3 cup portions (the equivalent of a can of beans, drained) in freezer bags or containers. You will get 4 cans worth of beans for a lot less money and with drastically less sodium.
Servings Per Recipe: 4
Amount Per Serving
Total Fat 12.6 g
Saturated Fat 7.0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.4 g
Monounsaturated Fat 2.0 g
Cholesterol 42.2 mg
Sodium 612.4 mg
Potassium 837.9 mg
Total Carbohydrate 43.7 g
Dietary Fiber 15.5 g
Sugars 6.5 g
Protein 28.8 g