Weeknights are always so hectic with work, kids, homework, making dinner, cleaning up, giving them bath, putting them to sleep! At the same time I want to ensure that they are getting good nutritious food that is homemade, and at the same time filling so that they are not hungry afterwards! I do a lot of meal prep on Sundays to make sure that I am set for the week in terms of what to make everyday for dinner. I love dinner hacks, that can help to make life a little bit easier.
One of my most favorite dinner hacks is a Roasted Vegetable Marinara Sauce that I make with seasonal vegetables that I roast with a bunch of herbs and spices. I puree the vegetables, along with spinach and with store bought good quality marinara sauce, cause I cannot possibly make everything from scratch! I use this sauce to toss with plain pasta with some parmesan sauce, or creamy ricotta as one option. I also use this marinara sauce to make a delicious lasagna that is layers of pasta and cheese, without any chunky vegetables in your mouth, hence making it so easy for kids to dig into, and enjoy the pasta dish, but at the same time getting their necessary food groups, like vegetables, carbs, and protein!
I like to use vegetables like zucchini, red bell pepper, red onion, eggplant and garlic, and I use herbs such as dried oregano, rosemary, smoked paprika, salt and pepper and good quality olive oil. KitchenAid was so kind to send me their 12″ Convection Digital Stovetop Oven, which is as small as a microwave but as powerful as a normal oven. The beauty of this equipment is that it can sit on your kitchen counter and it has ALL the settings as a normal oven and MORE! It can be used to roast, toast, bake, broil, make pizzas, cookies, pies anything! If you are like me, and store a lot of your cookie pans and bakeware inside the oven, and have to remove all of it, every time you want to bake a small quantity, then the Convection Digital Stovetop Oven is the optimal solution!
I have been using it to make lavash pizza for my kids lunch boxes for school in the morning. The pizza cooks up beautifully within no time! I love the ease of use, and also the ease of cleanup after use! The pre-heat time is much less than a regular oven, and hence I have used it to make a small batch of cookies for my family, and you can get cookies instantly without the fuss of turning on the oven, and waiting for it to pre-heat etc.
For the Roasted Vegetable Lasagna, I roasted the vegetables in the oven for about 30 minutes. Once cooled, I pureed it along with spinach and marinara sauce. While the vegetables are roasting, I boil the lasagna noodles, and grate the mozarella cheese and keep the salt and pepper ready. Once the marinara sauce is done, I assemble the lasagna, and create about 4 layers of pasta with the sauce and cheese in the middle. I finally top it off with the mozarella and parmesan cheese, and put bits of butter on the top so that it crisps up well. I cover the lasagna with aluminum foil and keep it in the fridge so that I can simply bake it the next day!
Baking takes about 40 minutes in all. I broil it for the last couple of minutes. I baked the lasagna in the Kitchenaid Convection Oven as well, and it turned out perfect! My kids love this lasagna with simple arugula salad tossed in lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and slices of parmesan on the top. I also grill some sourdough bread on the side for the kids to enjoy with their meal. This is such a big winner in our home. We always have leftovers and they carry forward to the next day and the kids are more than happy to eat it again :).
I love hacks like these, that make life a little bit easy for us who are always on the GO. I hope you get to try this recipe for your family. It works well and stores well too:).
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- Roasted Vegetable Marinara:
- 1 red bell pepper cut into medium pieces
- 1 zuchinni cut into medium cubes
- 1 small red onion cut into medium cubes
- 3 small eggplants cut into medium cubes
- 5-6 garlic cloves
- 3-4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano or herb de provence
- 1 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Store bought good quality marinara sauce - 1 jar
- 1-2 cups of spinach
- For the Lasagna:
- 4-5 cups of roasted vegetable marinara sauce
- 15 lasagna sheets boiled per package instructions
- 4 cups of grated mozarella cheese
- 1 cup of parmesan cheese
- 2 tsp black pepper
- 4 tbsp butter at room temperature
- Roasted Vegetable Marinara Sauce:
- Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
- In a tray, add the vegetables, olive oil, salt, black pepper, dried oregano, smoke paprika. Toss it all together until well coated.
- Bake the vegetables for half hour, such that the vegetables are roasted well. Remove from the oven and let it cool.
- In a high speed blender, add 2-3 cups of roasted vegetables for 6 cups of marinara sauce, along with the spinach. Your roasted vegetable marinara sauce is ready.
- For the Lasagna:
- Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
- Butter a 9 or 11 inch baking dish, with the 2 tbsp butter. The tray size will be 9 or 11 inches if using a Digital Convection Oven, and 13 inch if using a normal oven.
- To assemble, layer about 3/4 cup of marinara sauce on the bottom of the pan. Layer 3 lasagna sheets next to each other. Layer with 3/4 cup of marinara sauce. Top with about 1 cup of mozarella cheese and 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese. Sprinkle with black pepper. Repeat this process three more times.
- Final layer will be of the lasagna sheets, topped with mozarella cheese and left over parmesan cheese. Sprinkle with black pepper. add small tiny dollops of butter on the top. Cover with aluminum foil.
- Put it in the oven to bake for about 35-40 minutes. Remove the foil from the top. Broil for about 2 minutes, watching it closely so as not to burn the top. Remove the lasagna carefully from the oven and let it settle for about 5 minutes before cutting into it.
- Serve with a side salad of arugula, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and parmesan cheese slices and some toasted bread!