Sunday, January 17, 2010

Vegetable Lasagna (without riccotta and eggless)

A good vegetarian lasagna is hard to come by, even in restaurants, unless they are the family owned Italian restaurants - but they often don't have vegetarian lasagnas. In Ahmedabad, its even more difficult.

My fridge was stocked with vegetables and the inspiration struck to attempt my first homemade lasagna and the results were quite tasty. I read a bunch of recipes and came up with this. You can make it healthy by reducing the cheese in half (which I would do next time). And don't worry, the paneer turned out to be a really good substitute for ricotta (which is not available in India).

Note: I did get some ingredients from our local import store, namely the lasagna noodles, pasta sauce and canned artichoke hearts. You can use whatever pasta sauce you like, it plays a large role in taste, so select well. If fresh artichokes are available, I would recommend it. The artichokes really thickened the vegetable filling.

Hearty Healthy Vegetable Lasagna
makes 2 square 1.6L dishes, which is enough for atleast 8 people.


  • 12 lasagna noodles (I used no-bake noodles)
  • 1.5 green bell peppers, chopped (or 1 cup chopped)
  • 1 large carrot, chopped (or 1 cup chopped)
  • 4 drained artichoke hearts, chopped
  • 3/4 cup onions, chopped
  • 1 3/4 cup spinach, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon garlic paste (or 3-4 garlic cloves, minced)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder (optional)
  • 500 grams paneer (or ricotta cheese)
  • 350 grams shredded mozzarella cheese* (i used "cheeza")
  • 2 10 oz jars of pasta sauce**
* If you want to make it healthier, you can use less than 200 grams of cheese. Just use enough to cover the very top and do not use in the layers. Paneer is quite sufficient within the lasagna to give cheesy taste.
** Feel free to make your own pasta sauce. If you have wine, I would recommend the sauce from this chicken parmigiana recipe (no, you don't need chicken for the sauce) from Pioneer Woman.


  1. If using lasagna noodles that need to be cooked, cook the lasagna noodles in a large pot of boiling water until al dente. Rinse with cold water, and drain.
  2. In a large saucepan, cook green peppers, carrots, onion, and garlic in oil. Add artichokes when almost cooked. Stir in 1 jar of pasta sauce. Add pepper and chili powder and stir well. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes. This is our vegetable sauce.
  3. Crumble paneer and mix in spinach.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Cover bottom of baking dish with pasta sauce from jar. Place 2 lasagna noodles on bottom, layer with 1/4 each of vegetable sauce and paneer mix. Top with 1/8 mozzarella cheese and some pasta sauce from jar. Repeat lasagna noodle, vegetable sauce, paneer mix, mozzarella and pasta sauce layers. Cover with 2 lasagna noodles. Top with pasta sauce from jar and 1/4 of mozzarella cheese. Repeat with second tray.
  5. Cover tray with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 10 more minutes. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Healthy Eggless Sugarfree Oatmeal Almond Peanut Butter Cookies

I had a bunch of oatmeal that needed to be used and peanut butter around. I had once made these oatmeal cookies with honey and olive oil, but could not find the recipe. I found this recipe, did a bunch of modifications and came up with this healthy oatmeal cookie that is sugarfree, eggfree and butterless. I also added almonds to it, but you can add raisins, peanuts, walnut, chocolate chips... whatever tickles your fancy.

Note: According to my dietician friend, honey is not good for very young children, so this would not be for them.

Warning: its quite the hearty cookie.


  • 1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (or all-purpose flour)
  • 3/4 teaspoon + a pinch baking soda
  • 1/3 cup creamy natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped almonds (peanuts/raisins/chocolate chips)
  • 1/2 cup


  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
  2. Scatter oats on a large sheet pan and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until light golden brown; remove from sheet pan. Grease sheet.
  3. In a medium sized mixing bowl, sift together flour and baking soda.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, combine peanut butter, olive oil and honey, until creamy. Add vanilla and mix until well combined.
  5. Beat in flour mixture until combined. Beat in toasted oats, peanuts until combined.
  6. Shape the dough into balls, using about 1/4 cup of batter per ball; place on sheet pan and flatten slightly.
  7. Bake at 190 degrees C, for 10-12 minutes, or until light golden brown. Cool 2 minutes on pan before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

"Hot" Carrot Gazpacho aka Hearty Carrot Soup

Well, its not quite gazpacho soup, but it def tastes like it in terms of texture. I had it warm, but I have no doubts that cold it would basically be carrot gazpacho... but but but gazpacho technically is a raw, chilled tomato based soup. In fact, my encounter with gazpacho has been during a raw dinner.

This is carrot based and is not raw, but they taste similar so "hot" carrot gazpacho soup =). I used the recipe found here. We don't get celery here, so I upped the carrot by 1/2.

I don't have a steamer, so I put the potato and carrots in a strainer on top of a boiling pot of water. Took about 10 minutes to get soft enough for food processor.

I used a tad bit of olive oil to soften the onions along with 1 teaspoon of garlic paste.

At the end, crushed 9 black peppers and garnished with coriander.

The soup is quite thick, hence me calling it gazpacho. Quite filling and healthy. It has a full vegetable feel to it. The garlic and pepper really are there for slight accent. It is not savory soup full of spice flavour of course, as there aren't many spices. Next time, I would add some basil and/or coriander when blending. You can also add some chili flakes to a little kick.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Food Rules by Michael Pollan

Came across a great book by Michael Pollan called Food Rules.

64 memorable rules on healthy eating compiled from suggestions by common people like you and me, grandmothers, dieticians and more.

Some that I liked and try to follow:

- The whiter the bread, the sooner you’ll be dead. (which I why I try to use whole wheat even in desserts that call for all-purpose or maida)

- Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself. [Interesting way to curb on the junk food - of course french fries and cake take time to make]

- The law of diminishing marginal utility or the banquet is in the first bite. [We get the most satisfaction from the first bites, so savour them. Less is more. The experience of switching from Lindt truffles to Lindt swiss thins supports this]

- No second helpings. [Goes hand in hand with the above. I know that I have many many times wanted seconds because something tasted so good, but the second helping was an excess, I didn't need it and consequently felt that overfull feeling afterwards and said to myself - shouldn't have had that second helping... working on this one, its tough]

- It's not food if its called the same thing in different languages. [You have to think about this one - Doritos, Cheetos, Twinkies, etc]

- If you are not hungry enough to eat an apple, you are not hungry. [Def guilty of this. Craving vs hunger]

These were some of the ones I enjoyed. What are your food rules?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Homemade Jack Astor's Pan Garlic Bread

One of the things to eat when visiting Canada is Jack Astor's pan garlic bread. It is garlicy buttery bread greatness. But alas there is no Jack Astor's in Ahmedabad. When we on tour in Toronto, someone had made us delicious veg lasagna for dinner and I knew I had to get the garlic bread for everyone to try. You can imagine my disappointment when we opened the takeaway bag and found that they had given the bread and garlic sauce separately. You had to pour it over the bread yourself (but that meant that it didn't seep to the bottom). We poured it on top, but mainly ended up dipping the bread into the sauce. That is where I realized that there is a way to have that goodness at home.

This is the way I did it here. But after seeing this recipe for Rosemary Bread on Pioneer Woman, you could def like what I've suggested below to get something even closer to Jack Astor's pan bread.

All you need is melted butter and garlic paste. I added garlic paste to melted butter, warmed it up on the oven a bit to allow the garlic flavour to seep into the butter. Serve with with soft bread.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Carrot Souffle

I bake when I am in the mood to bake (which generally happens around 10 or 11pm) or if its someone's birthday or special occasion. I try to pick stuff that doesn't take hours otherwise I would be more consumed with the baking than practice or other work and of course, practice takes priority.

I had an itch to bake or cook over the last two days, but was warned against it, given the hours that were spent on the birthday cake(s) the previous week. I was going back and forth about whether or not to bake and one big con was that I didn't have much saltfree butter, no milk and not much flour - yep that really limited what I could do and I didn't have the time to go get stuff. BUT I did have a bunch of carrots. While searching for a carrot soup recipe, I found a carrot souffle recipe. Modifying looking at other recipes, here is what I did. It turned out to be a great dessert, not too sweet and great with ice cream. It was a great dessert for new year's eve dinner.

Great thing about this is that you can do the main stuff in the morning or night before. An hour or two before dinner, add the flour, eggs and baking powder and bake it for an hour. I boiled and pureed in the afternoon and kept it in the fridge for about 3 hours. You can keep it in the fridge overnight.

I took pictures.. or so I thought. I didn't have the memory card in my dslr.. oops

Carrot Souffle


  • 500grams carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (maida)
  • 1 egg + 1 egg white (or 1.5 eggs), beaten
  • 2 - 3 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened - i only had around 2.5 tbsp


  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
  2. In a large pot of boiling water, cook the carrots until very tender. Drain and add to mixer.
  3. Puree carrots with butter, vanilla extract and sugar. [Careful mixer will be hot if its a metal one like mine]. Transfer to bowl, allow to cool slightly and refrigerate.
  4. Mix in the flour, eggs, and baking powder. Transfer to a 1 quart baking dish.
  5. Bake 1 hour in the preheated oven, or until top is golden brown. Serve with vanilla ice cream.
[Note: this is not a picture of my souffle - mine was consumed before it could be photographed. But the texture and look was the same =)]
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