I haven't tried making lasagna since I stopped eating meat. I have a really killer meat sauce recipe that AnnMarie gave me from her mom which is apparently pretty authentic Italian, because that's what AnnMarie and her mom are. They actually call it "gravy" which I guess is what you call meat sauce if you're Italian. The recipe for the gravy calls for browning pieces of Italian sausage, meat balls, pork, and braciole (stuffed, rolled beef slices) and letting them sit in the sauce all day long. Aside from not eating meat, I can only make that about once a year because it has about an eleven month supply of saturated fat. But since lasagna is one of those things you can make without meat, I thought I'd give it a try. Besides, I had two boxes of lasagna noodles in my cupbord which I bought last month when it was on sale and marinara works just as well and doesn't take all day. The first thing I thought of when I decided to make veggie lasagna was spinach, but I wasn't sure what part of the lasagna the spinach belongs in. I thought about layering in the leaves with the other stuff, but I think a lot of water would cook out and make the whole thing a runny mess. So I decided to puree it up in the cheese. Then, I knew I would need more than just spinach before I could call lasagna a vegetable, so I figured I would put more chopped up vegetables in the sauce to simulate the chunkiness you get when you use meat. For the noodles, I didn't do anything special, except I don't precook them, which I guess is fairly heretical in some circles. So here is what I did. Sauce Saute 1/2 medium brown onion, chopped, and about 8 cloves of fresh minced garlic in about 2 tablespoons olive oil until golden brown or a little longer. Add 40 ounces tomato sauce (*) and one 28 ounce can of chopped tomatoes (**). Could I have used diced tomatoes (bigger) or pureed tomatoes (smaller)? Probably. Then add a teaspoon of salt, a half teaspoon of fresh ground pepper, a teaspoon of dried oregano leaves, and a bay leaf. There's not much to making marinara, but it's so much better than the store bought stuff filled with corn syrup solids and "spices". Heat up the whole thing then turn it down to low and let it sit for a while. The longer the better, but at least a half hour. ----- * I used five 8 oz cans. I buy the small cans because (a) they seem to be cheaper per ounce, (b) I never know how much I'll use and I can add a little at a time without wasting, and (c) whatever cans I don't use, I use during the week and it's easier to cook for one person when I have little cans. ** It doesn't come in small cans. See also a later marinara recipe ----- For the vegetables for the sauce, I chopped up two red bell peppers, two green bell peppers, two carrots, and three ribs of celery into little pieces. I used a "V-slicer" with the small chopper blade which gave me pieces about 1/4 inch wide. Saute these in another few tablespoons olive oil (you'll need a big pan or a dutch oven) until they're just getting limp, about 5-10 minutes. Don't add them to the sauce until the very end because you don't want them to get all mushy. You can do all the chopping and sauteeing during breaks in the action in the next section. Cheese Buy quite a lot of fresh spinach. I'm pretty lazy and I buy the stuff in the bag that's "triple washed" and already has the stems taken off, but regular fresh spinach is fine, with or without stems, as long as there's no gritty dirt left on it. Wash it a lot. I bought two bags, which I think are 10 ounces each. Out of the bags, it filled an 8 quart pot pretty tightly. If you have a steamer rack, steam the spinach, otherwise just add a half inch of water to the bottom of the pot and boil until the spinach is cooked but still pretty bright green. You might be surprised at how little is left when it's cooked. It'll shrink down a lot. While it's cooking, you can cut up the vegetables for the sauce. Let it cool. While it's cooling, saute the vegetables for the sauce. Squeeze as much of the water out of the cooked spinach as you can. I used my hands to pick up blobs of spinach and squeezed them like I was trying to compress snowballs. Put the squeezed spinach and about a quarter cup of ricotta in a food processor (or a blender, I guess) with about 10 fresh basil leaves and puree the heck out of the whole thing. It should be pretty pasty and not liquidy. Mix the spinach paste in a bowl with a big tub of ricotta cheese (I don't know what size, there are two sizes in my store and this was the big size -- if I had to guess, I'd say a pound, or a pint.) Add about a teaspoon of salt (to taste) and mix well. Grate a big ball of mozzarella (again, I'd guess a pound, it's the big size at my store.) Assembly Add the sauted vegetables to the marinara and mix well. Get a big pan. I used a pan that is one lasagna length wide and seven lasagna widths long. That is, seven lasagna noodles fit side by side. Pour a couple ladles full of sauce on the bottom of the pan. With a butter knife or spatula, spread a few tablespoons of the ricotta/spinach mixture on an uncooked lasagna noodle, covering it completely. Do the same thing to enough noodles to cover the bottom of the pan and arrange them side by side, cheese side up, in the pan without overlapping. Put another couple ladles full of sauce on top of the noodles and spread it around evenly. Sprinkle some mozzarella cheese evenly on top of the sauce. Repeat with layers of noodles, sauce, and cheese until you're all out of something. If you plan well enough, you'll be out of everything all at the same time. I had three layers. Feel free to break the noodles if you need to to get them to fit in your pan. If you have a deep pan, I think you could stack higher, but cook a little longer to make up for it. Baking Cover well with foil and bake for an hour at 375 degrees. Remove from the oven and let cool for twenty minutes to allow the whole thing to "set". Serve with fresh parmesan. Eat. Since a lot of my friends canceled at the last minute and I already had the lasagna stuff going, I cut the salad and the vegetable and the bread from the menu and just served lasagna for four men. I think there was about 1/6 of the lasagna leftover. I think with other stuff, this would have fed 10-12. Bruce See also Lasagna Proportions, added January, 2001.