Guest Feature: Sausage and Vegetable Lasagna
Last week, we experienced a “Bomb Cyclone” on the East Coast. True to its name, it wreaked all kinds of havoc on our daily schedules, flight cancellations, road closures, and burst pipes. But some nice things came out of it too. On Tuesday, the deep freeze prompted county officials to delay the start of school for two hours. So, despite the mayhem of “Bombogenesis,” I felt rested.
On the morning of the school delay, as I was writing the condensed schedule on my whiteboard, I remarked how few minutes were cut from each class to make up for the two-hour delay. Deducting nine or so minutes from each class provided two extra hours of rest and a little bit of time to lounge with my little girl over breakfast. “Lounge” and “weekday morning” are words typically not associated with one another. In any case, this got me thinking about New Year’s resolutions… and lasagna.
The shortened schedule made me flash back to a recipe I saw for Vegetable Parmesan, in which Giada Delaurentiis simplified the process, and made it healthier by roasting, not frying the vegetables. And it inspired me to create a version of my own lasagna. First I eliminated the noodles, and replaced them with layers of roasted eggplant, peppers, and fennel. In between the layers, bites of chicken sausage, marinara sauce and cheese. Much like my two extra hours of sleep, the effect of this change was miraculous. A triple dose of veggies and lean protein, with all the yummy goodness of “regular” lasagna.
I realize that in the month of January, there is a lot of advice out there on how to make healthy ingredient swaps, like…a warm glass of lemon water for your morning cup of coffee. Umm, no! That’s just ridiculous. Sausage and Veggie Lasagna is not that kind of swap. In fact, the veggie version is so delicious, that I will never make “regular” lasagna again. Truth! Now, if only we could make that two-hour delay a permanent thing.
Only take 6 minutes to assemble this yummy lasagna!
- 4 pre-cooked chicken sausages (1 12-ounce package)
- 1 medium eggplant, sliced into ¼ inch thick rounds or lengthwise to mimic a noddle.
- 3 bell peppers, sliced into fourths: 1 yellow, 1 red, 1 orange
- 1 large or 2 small fennel bulbs, roughly sliced into strips
- 1 26-ounce jar marinara sauce
- 6 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese (or one pre-shredded bag)
- 5 ounces grated parmesan cheese (or 1 pre-grated tub)
- Olive oil for drizzling
- Sea salt and black pepper
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Grease two large cookie sheets with olive oil, or line with parchment paper.
- Create one layer of sliced eggplant, peppers, and fennel. Drizzle or brush with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
- Roast vegetables for 20 minutes or until slightly soft.
- Meanwhile, while veggies are roasting, drizzle a teaspoon of olive oil in a sauté pan, and brown the chicken sausages (about 3 minutes on each side: 10-12 minutes total).
- Let sausages cool a few minutes before slicing into ¼ inch bites
- Remove veggies from the oven and allow them to rest on the pan until cool enough to handle. (about 15 minutes)
- In an 8x8x2 inch square pan, spread a generous spoonful of marinara sauce (right out of the jar), to coat the bottom of the pan.
- Add a tightly packed layer of the sliced eggplant, slightly layering the slices over one another to fit the bottom of the pan. Cut the eggplant rounds into semicircles to fit the edges of the pan if need be. Sprinkle with mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Then sprinkle evenly with sausage bites.
- Add the second layer: the bell peppers.
- Spoon more marinara sauce over the peppers, then sprinkle with cheeses and sausage bites.
- Finally add the top layer of fennel. Drizzle another spoonful of sauce, then top with cheeses, and sausage bites.
- At this stage, you can wrap the lasagna tightly with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for up to 3 days until you are ready to bake. Or you can pop back into the oven.
- Bake Sausage and Veggie Lasagna for 30 minutes at 375 degrees, or until melted, bubbly, and warmed through, and slightly browned on the top.
- Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Leigh is a Middle School Teacher of French and a Mom to a busy three year old. She loves to entertain family and friends, and prepare daily dishes for her husband and daughter. Leigh’s meals are often influenced by her mom’s love of cooking. Leigh also creates recipes based on her experiences of living and working in the south of France. She often uses food to provide authentic experiences for her students as well. On Fridays, it’s not uncommon to see her students making crèpes and sampling French “fromage,” as part of their lesson. Always inspired by fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients, Leigh’s dishes are simple, tasty, and always made with her family in mind. Her daughter, now three, is an enthusiastic helper in the kitchen. A lover of mealtime with family and warm summer nights, Leigh is excited to share some of her favorite recipes.