I have been enjoying fresh zucchini and eggplant lately. Anna, my 21 month old daughter, in the past has loved to eat steamed slices of zucchini and my husband is a big fan of anything eggplant. I made this veggie lasagna not too long ago and it was quite good. Even Anna who seems to be going through a picky eating phase, much to my chagrin, was willing to give this a try and seemed to liked it. Unfortunately, Anna is currently refusing to eat pretty much all of the foods that include vegetables that I prepare for her. It gets very frustrating when I routinely take the time and effort to make healthy foods for her which she will then in turn absolutely not eat, not even a bite sometimes! All of the fruits and vegetables that she used to love, she won’t touch now. It has been an enormous challenge every day just to get her to even try a vegetable. This is so weird for me because I thought she was doing so well eating all different kinds of foods, including vegetables, up until now. We have had rough patches, don’t get me wrong, but there would always be a fall-back veggie that she would eat without any fuss. Within the past 3 weeks, all types of fresh produce have been gracing our table at home but she won’t bite, literally! I have tried mixing the offending vegetables in with other foods that she likes but she has become a master of sorting it out and spitting it out! I have also tried blending it in in a way that she can’t separate it and these dishes she will refuse to eat on principle alone! It shocks me, this ardent distaste for vegetables as I am a vegetable lover by nature and my husband as a vegetarian makes it a rule to live by them. I only hope that this too shall pass. I keep reminding myself that one of my younger brothers who in his childhood would not even touch a vegetable unless it was in the form of a french fry with ketchup is now a vegetarian himself. But I feel that I may have a long road ahead of me filled with blatant trickery and food masquerading before Anna will be of an age to appreciate a gardener’s inspired menu. Are you dealing with a picky eater? I would love to hear about your experiences and any tips or suggestions you may have. Thanks!
2 Medium Zucchinis
1 Medium Eggplant
1 1/2 Cups wilted spinach or 1 small package frozen spinach (thawed and drained)
1 Package no cook lasagna noodles (I used Barilla)
36 ounces or about 1020 grams Tomato sauce
1 Pound or about 450-500 grams Ricotta cheese
1 Pound Mozzarella cheese grated
2 ounces or about 56 grams grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano (I used Romano)
2 Free-range Eggs
Chopped fresh parsley, oregano and basil (or dried) to taste
Salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice the zucchini and eggplant into slices about half an inch thick. I always soak the eggplant slices in salted water for at least 20 minutes as I think it helps removes some of the metallic taste which I don’t like. You can use the eggplant raw in the lasagna but it will be a little chewy. To avoid this grill, bake or saute the eggplant prior to assembling. Mix the ricotta cheese with the egg, half of the other two cheeses and all the seasonings. Set aside. To start assembling line the bottom of a large lasagna pan or two smaller baking dishes with a thin layer of tomato sauce. Cover with a layer of lasagna noodles then add a layer of vegetables and a layer of the ricotta mixture on top. Continue with sauce on top of each layer of noodles, then vegetable and ricotta layers until you run out or there is no more room left in the pan. I can usually fit about 3-4 layers. I also alternated with a layer of zucchini then eggplant and then spinach but you can mix them up amongst the layers however you like. You can also omit a vegetable from one portion of the lasagna if someone doesn’t want it in their slice. The last layer should be a layer of noodles with sauce and the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan/Romano cheeses sprinkled on top. Cover with tented foil, so the cheese won’t stick, and bake for 1 – 1 1/2 hours until the sauce is bubbling and the center is hot. For the last 15 minutes of baking time remove the foil so the cheese can brown a bit. Serve hot.