You know what today is? Of course you do — you read the headline, right?
It's Monday and therefore it's Meatless Monday.
Meatless Monday is a money- and health-saving initiative so old that even Herbert Hoover participated in it. Started during World War I, Meatless Monday encouraged Americans to cut meat out of their diets at least one day a week to save precious war-time resources. The campaign returned along with rationing during World War II and helped the allies keep Europe fed.
But it wasn't until 2003 that Meatless Monday became a permanent campaign, backed by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School for Public Health's Center for a Livable Future. The idea? To help Americans cut meat consumption by 15 percent to help both the community's overall health and the health of the planet, which is strained by the commercial production of meat and its use of resources like water and oil.
That said, even if you're digesting a cheeseburger while reading this, don't fear, you can still participate, and over time save yourself money and possibly improve your health, just by starting small and making something meatless tonight. And, lucky for you, we've provided a recipe so you don't even have to think. You just have to print this page and wander into the grocery store.
And yes, we'll be posting a recipe each week on Monday, so you don't even have to work extra hard to participate.
The first recipe we've chosen is a good transitional recipe, meant to be easy on folks who are used to eating three meaty square meals a day. It's a cheesy lasagna that can be whipped up in an hour or so and is hearty enough to work well as lunch leftovers the next day.
Eggplant and Artichoke White Lasagna
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 leeks, white and light green parts, finely chopped
Salt to taste
1 medium eggplant (approximately 1 pound), cut into 1/2-inch thick slices 6 dried lasagna noodles
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups reduced fat milk
1/4 cup grated grana padano cheese, divided
1/2 cup goat cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
1 (13.75-ounce) can water-packed artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 1/4 cups grated mozzarella cheese, divided
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, leeks and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, 5 to 6 minutes. Set leeks aside and wipe out skillet.
Pour enough oil into skillet to reach a depth of 1/4-inch and heat over medium-high heat. Working in batches, fry eggplant, flipping once, until golden and soft, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer eggplant as done to a paper towel-lined sheet tray and blot well with more paper towels. Repeat process with remaining eggplant, adding more oil as necessary. Sprinkle both sides of eggplant slices with salt when done.
Cook noodles according directions on package, then drain and set aside.
For the sauce, melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds. Slowly whisk in milk until combined well. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of the grana padano, goat cheese, salt and pepper, and reserved leeks and remove from heat. Stir just until cheese melts, then set sauce aside.
Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray and spread 1/4 cup of the sauce on bottom of pan. Top with 2 noodles, then layer with half of the eggplant and artichoke hearts, 1/2 cup sauce, and 1/2 cup mozzarella. Repeat with a second layer and then place the last 2 noodles on top. Spread remaining sauce over noodles and top with remaining mozzarella and grana padano.
Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake for 5 minutes more. Set lasagna aside to let cool for 5 minutes, then slice and serve.