Sneaky Lasagna

I've recently redoubled my efforts to get some vegetables into my veggie-intolerant boys (husband included). After a little tinkering with a basic recipe, I've come up with one that so far has been very well received. Seriously, the kids shoveled it in. Hooray!

I'm well aware that hiding veggies in other kid-friendly, yummy "staple" dishes is nothing new. And I know of at least two recipe books written - one by a famous comedian's wife - on the subject. But, I'm too cheap to go out and by them. Unfortunately, I am also no chef. Kyler often makes fun of the fact that my palate is significantly less discriminate than his (and yet, I am pickier...go figure).

Despite these obvious roadblocks, I've created a dish I love and my family scarfs down, veggies and all! So, just in case there are any others of you out there who are trying as hard as I am to get more whole foods and veggies into your toddlers/family, I thought I'd share.

Sneaky Meat & Veggie Lasagna

1 medium zucchini
1 medium squash
1 can or package of sliced mushrooms
8-10 baby carrots or 1-2 whole carrots
2 cans of diced tomatoes (seasoned if you wish)
1 jar of spaghetti sauce (I use Classico Florentine spinach and cheese)
1 small handful of wheat germ
1 lb. ground meat (I use venison; it's free and very lean)
1 package lasagna noodles (should be about 20)
4 cups of shredded cheese (I use Sargento Italian blend)
olive oil
13x9 glass baking dish

Note: I usually make two lasagnas at a time so I can freeze one for later.

1. Cut zucchini and yellow squash in half (I use 1/2 of each for one lasagna). Slice carrots length-wise. Dice all into small pieces. You can also dice up the mushrooms if you like.

2. Saute in olive oil with mushrooms until softened...or not, whatever you like.

3. Add diced tomatoes, wheat germ, and spaghetti sauce. Turn heat down, cover and simmer for....awhile.

4. Brown meat in a separate pan. Add garlic and Italian spices (you know, if you like).

5. Boil lasagna noodles as directed on package.

6. Let all cool a bit and assemble:

-- Spoon a small amount of sauce into bottom of dish and spread.
-- Layer 5 lasagna noodles in bottom of dish.
-- Spoon some meat onto noodles.
-- Spoon some sauce onto noodles and meat.
-- Spread evenly with a spatula and press.
-- Sprinkle with a cup of cheese.
-- Repeat twice more. On top layer, just sauce.

Aside: If you made one to freeze, top with remaining cheese (or leave off until you bake it later - I put it on because I never know if I'll have shredded cheese around when I want lasagna). Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and cover dish with plastic lid. If frozen, bake for at least two hours. If thawed in fridge (takes a few days to thaw) bake for an hour or so.

This is about halfway through the layering. If your lasagna is like mine, your baking dish will be full to the brim when you are finished. Yum. Just use the spatula to press in between each layer.

7. Cover dish with foil and bake at 350* for 45 minutes or so.

8. Remove foil, sprinkle with remaining cup of cheese and bake for another 10 minutes or until melted.

9. Serve and eat. Yum.

10. Let me know what you think!

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