3 Simple meatless casseroles

Green vegetable lasagna can be assembled in advanced

Green vegetable lasagna can be assembled in advanced and baked just before serving. (Credit: Marge Perry)

TIP: Casseroles may be assembled in advance and baked just before serving.

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GREEN VEGETABLE LASAGNA

2 medium zucchini (1 pound) cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch- thick pieces

1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided

2 cups chopped onion

10 ounces baby kale (or kale, torn into 3-inch pieces)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

15 ounces part-skim ricotta

1 cup crumbled feta (4 ounces)

1 tablespoon chopp ed fresh sage

Pinch nutmeg

1 1/4 cups basil tomato sauce

6 (7-by-3-inch) no boil lasagna noodles

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat a shallow baking sheet and an 8-by-8-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

2. Place the zucchini strips on the baking sheet and brush the tops with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil. Bake 15 minutes, until tender; remove from oven and let cool slightly.

3. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium high. Add the onions and cook, stirring often, 3-4 minutes, or until softened. Add the kale in batches, tossing constantly, until it is wilted and bright green, about 2 minutes. Add the salt and pepper; toss and set aside.

4. Stir the ricotta, feta, sage and nutmeg together. Set aside 1/4 cup of the mixture.

5. Spread 1/4 cup of the sauce in the bottom of the 8-by-8-inch pan. Top with one layer of noodles; top the noodles with half the cheese mixture remaining in the bowl (about 1 cup). Top with an even layer of kale, followed by 1/4 cup of the sauce. Build the next layer, starting with the noodles, followed by the ricotta remaining in the bowl. Lay the zucchini strips over the cheese, top with 1/4 cup of the sauce and follow with the final layer of noodles. Spoon the remaining 1/2cup sauce over the noodles and top with dollops of reserved 1/4cup of cheese mixture.

6. Bake until the lasagna is fork- tender and bubbly at the sides, about 35 minutes. Makes 6 servings

Nutritional analysis for each serving 344 calories, 16 g fat, 8g saturated fat, 18 g protein, 33 g carbohydrates, 689 mg sodium

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PENNE BUTTERNUT BAKE

1 (2-pound) butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

8 ounces penne pasta

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

1 tablespoon fresh chopped sage, divided

3 tablespoons flour

2 cups low-fat milk

1/3 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

1/2 cup grated Parmesan

3 tablespoons melted butter

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat an 11-by-7-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil; add squash and cook 10 minutes, or until cooked about halfway through. Add the penne, return to a boil and cook until penne is al dente and squash is tender, about 10 minutes longer. Drain and toss with salt and pepper.

3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and about half the sage and cook until onion is somewhat softened, about 3 minutes. Add the flour and about 1/4 cup of the milk and stir constantly until smooth. Gradually whisk in the remaining milk, stirring constantly, until the milk is thickened to the consistency of heavy cream, 5 to 6 minutes. Toss with the penne and squash and stir in the walnuts. Transfer to the prepared baking dish. (Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired.)

4. Combine the remaining sage, panko, Parmesan and melted butter until the crumbs are evenly dampened. Sprinkle the mixture over the top of the casserole and bake until bubbly at the sides and golden brown on top, about 30 minutes. Makes 6 servings

Nutritional analysis for each serving 398 calories, 16 g fat, 6g saturated fat, 14 g protein, 52 g carbohydrates, 6 g fiber, 360 mg sodium

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BLACK AND RED BEAN TORTILLA CASSEROLE

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 cup chopped onion

1 green pepper, cut into 1/2-inch dice

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons flour

1 1/2 cups low-fat milk

4 ounces Neufch√Ętel (low-fat) cream cheese at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1 (15-ounce) can low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed

4 ounces baked tortilla chips, lightly crushed

1 cup shredded low-fat cheddar

1 (15-ounce) can low-sodium red beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup chunky salsa

2 scallions, thinly sliced (green parts only)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat an 11-by-7-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

2. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium. Add the onion, green pepper and garlic and cook, stirring, 3 minutes, until somewhat softened. Add the flour; stir, and slowly whisk in the milk until the mixture comes to a boil, the flour is fully incorporated and the liquid is thickened to the consistency of cream. Remove from heat and stir in the cumin and cream cheese until the cheese is fully incorporated.

3. Spread a thin layer of sauce (about 11/2 cup) over the bottom of the prepared baking dish; top with the black beans, half of the tortilla chips and 1/3 cup of the cheese. Pour 1/2 cup of the sauce over the tortilla chips and top with the red beans, salsa and 1/3 cup of the cheese. Pour the remaining sauce evenly over the top and sprinkle with the remaining 1/3 cup of the cheese.

4. Bake 30 minutes, until casserole is bubbling and top is golden. Sprinkle with scallions just before serving. Makes 6 servings

Nutritional analysis for each serving 347 calories, 14 g fat, 6g saturated fat, 18 g protein, 39 g carbohydrates, 9 g fiber, 779 mg sodium