Kale & Italian Sausage Lasagna

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I seldom make lasagna. How seldom was brought home to me when I was washing out my food storage bins and discovered that my lasagna was past its expiration date. I had not realized pasta had an expiration date, so there you have it. That poor box of lasagna has been dragged through two moves and I still had not emptied it, so I decided to finish it off and actually make a pan of lasagna. Now, I didn’t happen to have ricotta or mozzarella on hand since I seldom buy specialty cheese as I don’t use them quickly enough and they spoil. So, I made do with substitutes that made a tasty but totally inauthentic lasagna.

But let’s work through it. First I started water boiling. When it began a rolling boil I added eight pieces of lasagna pasta. I also added 3 pieces of Italian Sausage right out of the freezer. I figured why dirty two pans…and if anything the sausage might add some flavor to the pasta.

I got out a rectangular baking dish that was about as wide as 2.5 pieces of lasagna and just a bit shorter than the pasta. I laid down three pieces of lasagna, the middle one overlapping the two outer pieces. I then thinly sliced one of the pieces of Italian sausage and laid it down over the pasta. Taking about 1/2 cup of cream cheese, I dotted cream cheese in the spaces between the sausage. I then layered finely chopped kale on top. I used one full stalk, removed the ribs, and then chopped the kale.

Then I laid down two more strips of lasagna for another layer. I took the other two Italian sausages and  removing the skins, I chopped them up in a bowl and added 1 14.5 oz can of chopped tomatoes with jalapeños. I would have used fresh but didn’t happen to have any on hand. I mixed the sausage and tomatoes together and layered them on the pasta. On top of that I added a layer of black beans from a can, thoroughly rinsed in cold water.On top of that I added some sour cream which made a nice bed for the next layer of kale – using one more more stalk of kale finely chopped. I added a final layer of pasta and baked until done in a 350° oven. When it was done, I sprinkled some parmesan and some pepper jack cheese on top and broiled for just a few minutes to brown the cheese.

So, this made 12 servings which is why I don’t make lasagna very much. Luckily my friend came over and had some, too. It was delicious and easy to make and really did a good job of cleaning out some remnants in my fridge (cream cheese and sour cream). It was not too spicy, rich and flavorful.

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Best Black Bean Lasagna

Black Bean Lasagna - the Potluck Version

Believe it or not, this vegetarian black bean lasagna tastes better than a meat lasagna to this carnivore. It’s an amazing recipe and one that I don’t cook often, because it’s more work than I usually like to put into cooking a meal. However, for potlucks, parties and guests, it’s a perfect choice. People will be amazed.

Ingredients:
1 15 oz can black beans, drained with liquid reserved
2/3 cup of brown rice – uncooked
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1/2  tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup vegetable stock plus 1 tablespoon
1/3 cup Anaheim chili pepper, seeded and diced
1 4 oz. can chopped green chilis – drained
3 tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro

Bean Sauce
3/4 cup vegetable stock
2 tablespoons onion
2 tsp garlic
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/8 tsp pepper
1.5 tsp dry sherry
1/2 tsp sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro
(plus reserved beans and liquid from above)

2 2/3 cups marinara sauce
6 sheets lasagna noodles
2 2/3 cups mozzarella, grated
1 cup lowfat ricotta (you can be more generous and use the whole container)
1/4 fresh bread crumbs

Drain the beans, reserving the liquid. Measure 2/3 cup of beans and reserve the rest for later.

Cook the rice.

Roast the cumin and coriander in a dry skillet.Add cooked rice, stir in salt and pepper and let cool. Stir in corn, stock, peppers, chilis, cilantro and 2/3 cup black beans.

Place 2 tablespoons of the vegetable stock in a saucepan. Add onion, garlic, cumin, coriander, chili powder, sherry and sherry vinegar.  Simmer 3 minutes. Add tomato paste, reserved beans and its liquid. Cook additional 8 minutes. Process until nearly smooth, leaving some bits of beans intact.  Add remaining vegetable stock and cilantro. Reserve.

Spread 2/3 cup of the marinara sauce in the bottom of a 9*13 backing dish.  Cover with one layer of cooked lasagna noodles. Spoon on half of the rice mixture and 3/4 cup of the bean sauce. Top with 1/2 cup of the ricotta cheese and 1 1/4 cup of the mozzarella. If you want, add more ricotta and use the whole container.

Cover with another layer of lasagna noodles and 1 cup marinara sauce. Repeat the layering of rice and cheese. Top with the last layer of noodles. Press lightly to distribute evenly..

Add last layer of marinara (3rd). Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and bread crumbs.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 35 minutes. Let stand about 20 minutes before cutting.