Many Vegetable Lasagna

The 2014 VegOut! Challenge close is right around the corner! It’s been a speedy one, no? In case you’re almost there and need a recipe to push you over the 30 veg edge, try this recipe by Francine Spiering, who writes over at Life in the Food Lane. The nine veggies in this dish will surely help you reach the finish line.

Many Vegetable Lasagna

Many Vegetable Lasagna
This recipe serves 2-3 adults

This combination of vegetables creates a lasagna that is abundant both in flavor and color. Sweetness from the yellow beet and squash, hearty flavors from the onion, kale and celeri, aromatic flavors from the garlic, eggplant and bell pepper, and acidity from the tomatoes. – Francine
Vegetable sauce:
1 medium eggplant
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow (golden) beet
1/2 acorn squash
1 cup cooked kale*
2-3 stalks celeri
1 medium onion
4-5 cloves of garlic
1 cup peeled and diced tomato
1 cup (or less) water
1 bayleaf
1 tbsp olive oil
fresh herbs: thyme, mint and basil (to taste)
spice it up to your liking: I used a tsp smoked paprika, a pinch of cumin, a pinch of dried ginger, a pinch of cayenne, and salt/pepper (my pinches are generous)

Ricotta mixture:
1 cup ricotta
2 eggs
1 “ball” mozzarella, chopped fine
1 cup grated parmesan
salt/pepper to taste
6-9 sheets lasagna (depending on the number of layers you prefer)
  • A lasagna being a flat-layered dish, I like to cut all vegetables into half-moons and/or slices. Also, lazy me, I use lasagna sheets that need no precooking.
  • Heat the olive oil in a wide casserole dish. Add the onions and cook over medium heat until soft (about 5 min).
  • Add the eggplant, beetroot, bell pepper, squash, and celeri, stir and cook for about 10 minutes, or until softened.
  • Add the tomatoes, garlic, bay leaf and half the water. Simmer over low heat for 15 minutes. Add more water if it looks too dry. Taste, add salt/pepper, the cooked kale, and fresh thyme and shredded basil.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the ricotta mixture: Whisk the eggs until foamy, stir in the ricotta, mozzarella, and half of the parmesan cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Assemble: In an oven-safe casserole dish, spoon some of the vegetable sauce to cover the bottom. Place lasagna sheets on top of sauce, next to each other but an inch or so apart, and from the sides (the lasagna sheets expand in the oven). Spoon more vegetable sauce, cover with lasagna sheets, add another layer if you like (dividing the sauce accordingly), and finally the ricotta mixture.
  • When your layers are done, cover the entire dish with the ricotta mixture. Spread  evenly and sprinkle with the remaining parmesan. If you like, also sprinkle some fresh thyme leaves.
  • Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes at 350F. Remove the foil, increase the temperature to 400F and bake for another 20 minutes or until bubbling and slightly browning on the top.
  • Finish by sprinkling with fresh herbs and  small capers.
  • Serve more or less immediately.
The cooked kale was a leftover from a previous meal. You could add raw, chopped kale to the sauce to simmer along with the rest of the vegetables. It’s bitter-green taste can dominate, though. If you want to balance the flavors, “wilt” the kale first (in the microwave, for instance).

 Read more of Francine’s culinary musings and recipes at Life in the Food Lane.

Shubhra’s Fire Roasted Eggplant

Shubhra Ramineni is a culinary instructor, busy mom of a veggie-loving girl and award-winning cookbook author of Entice with Spice, Easy Indian Recipes for Busy People and Healthy Indian Vegetarian Cooking, Easy Recipes for the Hurry Home Cook. Shubhra’s no-fuss cooking style recreates authentic Indian flavors using easy techniques and fresh and easily available ingredients.

 Shubhra has generously provided a  copy of her latest tome, Healthy Indian Vegetarian Cooking, Easy Recipes for the Hurry Home Cook for one lucky VegOut! participant who completes the 30-day challenge this March.

In the mean time, she’s shared one of her simple, yet elegant recipes to inspire you in your food adventure…

Shubhra's Fire Roasted Eggplant

Smoked eggplant is one of my favorite Indian dishes, and is fun to make! The eggplant, also known as brinjal in India, is roasted directly over the open flame on a gas stovetop. If you don’t have a gas stove, you could roast the eggplant under an oven broiler or cook it on an outdoor grill. If you use an oven broiler, it is not as messy, but you will not get the smoky taste that comes from cooking directly over an open flame. This dish can be served with naan or as an appetizer along with lightly toasted wedges of pita bread. – Shubhra

Fire Roasted Eggplant (Baingan Bhartha)

Serves 4

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes if using a gas stove
Refrigerator life: 3 days
Freezer life: 1 month
Reheating method:  Place the refrigerated or defrosted eggplant in a microwave and stir periodically. Or, place it in a saucepan over medium-low heat and stir periodically.


1 large eggplant, globe variety (about 1 lb/500 g)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil (plus 1 extra teaspoon oil if using an oven)
1 small onion, diced
1 fully ripe tomato, coarsely chopped
½ teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
½ teaspoon salt 


On the stove:

  • If you’re using a gas stove to roast the eggplant, place aluminum foil under a large burner to make clean-up easier.  Wash and dry the eggplant.   Place the eggplant directly on the gas burner on high heat.  Using tongs, frequently turn the eggplant to make sure all sides are evenly cooked, about 8 minutes.  When done, the eggplant will become very soft and mushy. The skin will be charred, and it will have collapsed in on itself.  Also, some liquid will release the cooking process, which will be caught by the foil.  Remove from the heat and let cool. Discard the foil.
  • If you’re using your oven to roast the eggplant, preheat the broiler to high. Wash and dry the eggplant.  Rub 1 teaspoon of the oil on the eggplant so it will not dry out while cooking. Place the eggplant on a baking sheet on the highest rack possible near the broiler and turn frequently until the eggplant is evenly charred and the flesh is soft and mushy, about 25 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.
  • Using your fingers, peel the skin off the eggplant and discard.  After you have removed the skin, hold the eggplant over your sink by the stem with one hand.  Wet your other hand and very gently grab the eggplant and run your hand down it to help take off any small remaining bits of skin.
  • Place the eggplant in a shallow dish.  Holding the eggplant by the stem, use a potato masher to mash the eggplant flesh and break it apart.  (The stem will become separated from the eggplant flesh.  Do not discard the stem.)
  • Pour the oil into a medium saucepan and place over medium heat.  When the oil is heated, add the onion.  Sauté until the onion is lightly browned, stirring frequently, about 4 minutes.
  • Add the tomato.  Cook until the tomato pieces become soft, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes.   Add the mashed eggplant (including the stem and the juices), red pepper and salt. Stir to combine.  Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Serve the eggplant on a platter, along with the stem, or let cool to room temperature and refrigerate or freeze for later!

On the grill:

  • Wash and dry the eggplant.   Heat a grill on medium-high heat.  When the grill is heated, place the eggplant directly on the grill rack.  Close the grill, and check back every 5 minutes to turn the eggplant.  Cook for a total of 20 minutes with the grill closed.  Cook until all four sides of the eggplant are soft and mushy.  Remove from grill and let cool.  Continue with steps 3 to 7. 

Recipe from Entice with Spice, Easy Indian Recipes for Busy People by Shubhra Ramineni. Learn more about Shubhra, her cookbooks and upcoming events and classes at

Our #VegOutJicama winner is…

VegOutJicamaDishLast week, we asked you to submit your best photo of a jicama dish with us on social media with the hashtag #VegOutJicama for a chance to win our second VegOut! flash contest. Several of you rose to the challenge and share some inspired cuisine, so we asked Chef Jason Gould of Cyclone Anaya’s Mexican Kitchen to help us determine a winner.

After reviewing all the submissions, here’s what he had to say:

“These are some really good recipes with some great and unique uses for jicama, it was hard to choose just one winner. The one I picked is the “Sōté-rubbed Salmon with Hatch Pepper Sauce and Jicama-Mango Slaw”. It’s simple use of the jicama in the “slaw” really highlights the great qualities of the vegetable, helping to retain the crispness and complementing the flavor with the addition of the citrus and mango.  Served with the seared salmon and spicy Hatch pepper sauce, makes for a great spring dish.”

So congrats to Dragana Harris (aka the writer and home cook behind Dragana Bakes).  Enjoy the $50 gift card donated by the lovely folks at Cyclone Anaya’s.

Dragana has shared her recipe with us to help you veg out with jicama, too!

Sōté-Rubbed Salmon with Hatch Pepper Sauce & Jicama-Mango Slaw

Serves 2


For salmon:

¾ lb salmon fillet

Sōté seasoning or seasoning of your choice

1 tablespoon olive oil

For sauce:

¼ cup mayonnaise

¼ cup sour cream

1 roasted Hatch pepper (spicy or not), skin removed, stemmed and seeded

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

¼ cup lightly packed cilantro leaves

1 peeled and chopped Roma tomato

For jicama slaw:

½ lb jicama, peeled and julienned (use the mandoline for this if you have one)

1 mango, peeled, sliced thin and then longwise into thin strips

8 radishes, sliced thinly (here again, the mandoline comes in handy)

1/3 cup red onion, sliced thin

¼ cup cilantro, chopped

4 tablespoons fresh orange juice

4 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon sesame oil

Salt and pepper to taste


  • Pat salmon dry with a paper towel to remove any moisture. Rub a little Sōté seasoning on the salmon, remembering that the Sōté is mostly salt.
  • Pour olive oil into an oven-proof pan or cast iron skillet. Heat pan over medium heat until the oil is very hot. Carefully add the salmon, skin side down. Cover with a splatter shield if necessary to prevent oil from splashing everywhere. Sauté salmon until the edges begin to turn color, about 5 – 6 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the broiler. Remove pan with salmon from heat and place under broiler for 2 minutes to sear the top. Remove pan from oven using an oven mitt. Serve with Hatch pepper green sauce and Jicama mango slaw.
  • Place all ingredients in a small blender and blend until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  • Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Chill until ready to serve.  Serve using tongs to drain slaw from the juices.

See Dragana’s original post, plus more recipes and culinary tales on her blog, Dragana Bakes.

Sunchoke Cha Cha Cha!

Bustling schedules and picky palettes can make the task of nourishing a family an uphill battle, so how do you get your brood to eat 30 different vegetables period, much less within one month?

Houston mom Amy Anton has stepped up for the challenge and is sharing her anxieties, discoveries and successes along the way.

new veggie

Have you ever had a sunchoke? I hadn’t even even heard of them until yesterday. And you probably don’t care, but I cook A LOT. I read cooking magazines all of the time. But still, I had no idea what a sunchoke was. Until yesterday, that is.

I was wandering through the produce section at my local H-E-B, when I saw a basket marked sunchokes. Say what? They are also known as Jerusalem Artichokes. Hmm, so obviously, they are some exotic version of an artichoke, I think… Not so! They are brown tubers, or root vegetables that look like a cross between ginger root and a small potato. Crazy!

I grabbed a bag of them and headed home, triumphant that I had a new vegetable for our Veggie Log. The story gets better, though, as we were having company for dinner. Perfect, I thought, they can all try sunchokes! Well, when I announced to my guests I had roasted sunchokes for them, you should have seen the look on their faces. I am sure they were thinking, she’s making us try some weird food… my husband looked disgusted… and the seven boys looked at me like no way, no how. It is spring break, and I am NOT eating anything weird!

Determined, I cut the sunchokes into bite-size pieces, tossed them with olive oil and salt, and roasted them in the oven at 350 for 45 minutes. I snuck a bite of one before I served them, and WOW. Like a potato, but nutty, and not as starchy. And when I dished them out to everyone, you know what? They ALL loved them. They ate every last one! They asked for more! Boy, did I feel vindicated.

SO, if you are running out of new veggie ideas for your VegOut! Challenge (or your sanity), grab some sunchokes! They are in season right now, and I have seen them at Kroger, H-E-B, Central Market, and Whole Foods Market.

And the winner is… Erika Kwee!

Congratulations to VegOut! challenger Erika Kwee for winning our  Most Veg Recipe Flash Contest! Also known on Instagram and her blog as The Pancake Princess, Erika’s winning veggie concoction included a whopping 15 vegetables. In addition to the veggie count, we were also impressed by the creativity she displayed in getting so many veggies into one meal. Check it out!


15-Veggie Burger on Carrot Buns

For the carrot buns:
6 medium carrots, shaved using a vegetable peeler
2 tablespoons flour
Dash of salt and pepper
Dried herbs of choice (basil, parsley, dill, tarragon, rosemary, etc.), optional
Olive oil

For the veggie burger patties:
2 medium sweet potatoes, steamed, baked or microwaved until tender
½ small onion, diced
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
spices of choice: I used ½ teaspoon cumin, ¼ teaspoon dried rosemary, salt and pepper
1 ½ cups mixed vegetables of choice: I used ½ cup broccoli, 1/3 cup frozen butternut squash, a handful of kale, and 2 tablespoons each: frozen peas, frozen edamame, corn, bell pepper
2 green onions, sliced
3 tablespoons hummus

For garnish: fresh cilantro, spinach and cucumber slices

To make the carrot buns:

  • Toss the carrot shavings with the flour, salt, pepper and dried herbs until evenly coated.
  • Heat 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Use a fork to twirl the carrot strands into a large clump, then pull the clump off your fork and flatten to form a rough circle—this will serve as the bun for your burger.
  • Fry carrot “buns” for several minutes on each side, or until golden with a slight crust.

To make the veggie burgers:

  • Steam, bake or microwave your sweet potatoes until tender. A medium sweet potato will take about 45 minutes to bake in a 375 degree oven or 5 minutes in a microwave. Once cooked, set aside to cool before peeling off the skin.
  • Sauté the onion in 1-2 teaspoons olive oil over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and spices and cook for another minute. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the green onion and hummus to the pan with a splash of water and cover. Steam for several minutes until any frozen vegetables are warmed through. Remove from heat.
  • In a bowl, mash the cooked sweet potato, sautéed vegetables, green onions and hummus together (add more hummus if needed). Form patties 1/3 cup at a time and fry over medium heat in a few teaspoons of olive oil, about 2-3 minutes on each side, or until browned.
  • Serve on top of carrot buns with cucumber, cilantro and spinach.

 For more tasty recipes by Erika, visit her blog, The Pancake Princess.