Monday, August 19, 2013

Culinary Wizardry: Sneaky Lasagna

My mother-in-law is a culinary wizard.
Every mother of small children faces the same battle of how to get vegetables into picky eaters. Some kids snarf them up, but most kids, at least at first, will turn up their noses and make faces at broccoli, zucchini, or mushrooms. My brilliant mother-in-law got these foods into her kids with a combination of reverse psychology and subterfuge.
While making dinner, she made sure her three boys knew that they weren’t to sneak anything off of the counter while she was prepping it. They would stealthily approach, observed by their mother out of the corner of her eye. After making off with raw carrots, green beans, or cucumber, they would joyfully wolf down their ill-gotten gains, giggling triumphantly. Occasionally, she would pretend to catch them and say, “get away from there!” and playfully smack their hands. They would retreat, waiting for another opportunity to make off with what was supposedly forbidden to them.
This scene was often played out while she was making her famous vegetarian lasagna, a lasagna so delicious and so hearty that even the most carnivorous dinner guest wouldn’t be able to tell that it’s missing any meat.
The best part about this is that she has bestowed the recipe on me. This mouthwatering dish is extremely time consuming to make, but totally worth it.
First, you need to go shopping. That is, unless you keep dry curd cottage cheese in your house all the time. You’ll also need a variety of vegetables of your choice (current favorites in this household are mushrooms, olives, spinach, and zucchini); these can be found at the grocery store or in your backyard if you happen to have an awesome garden. And of course you need lasagna noodles and sauce and mozzarella cheese.
After all the chopping and boiling and grating is done, layer everything. A little sauce on the bottom of the pan before the first bit of noodles will keep it from sticking when you get ready to serve it. You can put your secret vegetables where you want them, but after each layer of secret vegetables, there should be one with cottage cheese, mozzarella, sauce, and noodles. Top your final layer of veggies off with noodles, sauce, and mozzarella, and bake it at 375 degrees for 35 minutes regardless of whether it is August because it will be delicious no matter how hot it makes your house.
Let it settle for about five minutes before you burn your mouth on it. On second thought, let it settle for about five minutes and then make sure it’s not too hot to eat before you shove it in your face so that you don’t burn yourself. Once these two things have been accomplished, it’s time for the final phase:
Enjoy my mother-in-law’s culinary wizardry.

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