Thursday, April 9, 2009

"Homemade is Better from Tupperware Home Parties" - Meatless Italian Lasagna

Date I made this recipe: April 5, 2009

Homemade is Better from Tupperware® Home Parties (Special 30th Anniversary Edition)
Published by: Meredith Publishing Services (Better Homes and Gardens)
© 1981
Recipe: Meatless Italian Lasagna – p. 107

Ah Tuppeware®! Was there anything like a Tuppeware® party in the 60’s and 70’s? I think not! You had your beehived ladies presenting the latest in harvest-colored plastic storage bins known for their “burping” seal (not to be confused with a burping seal of the animal kind--if indeed such an animal exists!). The demonstration of the proper technique to burp that container was the best part of the Tupperware® party--right up there with the lovely display of the latest and greatest in Tupperware® inventions, usually piled high on a tablecloth-covered card table. (My favorite item was the Popsicle molds although sadly, my mother never brought those home from a party, likely fearing massive tooth decay if she made them for us.)

I have to credit Joy Behar of TV’s The View for reminding me that I had this cookbook (purchased on – just a great place to find unique books). She made an offhanded remark one morning about Tupperware® and before they hit the next commercial, I had this cookbook in hand and started my hunt for the recipe du jour.

Now my mother was not a really into the Tupperware® party scene and she always hated the “ask” at the end of the demonstration but don’t you know, she had quite the collection of Tupperware® items in her house. The best item that she had (that I will probably bring to my house one of these days) is the (vintage) 1965 pastry sheet. That sheet was the best thing since sliced bread-- it had circles of various widths laid out so that the home cook could accurately measure a pie crust. It sure as heck beats eyeballing the crust!

I also have a few Tupperware® items in my kitchen, my personal favorite being my golden yellow Tupperware® bowl, circa the early ‘80’s. The best part about the bowl is that it has a plastic lid and let me say that that bowl has been to many a potluck!! (Have Tuppeware®, will travel!) My mother, who feared salmonella more than she feared death, would probably be appalled to learn that I’ve stored raw meat (mostly meatballs) in the bowl as well as used it to make cake and cookie mixes. I always thoroughly clean the bowl and after all these years, have yet to get sick – so there!

As to this recipe, it was very yummy and easy to make once the veggies were all chopped. My vegetables were probably closer to a dice than a chop, making my lasagna a little bit crunchier than I would have liked but I could have remedied that just by cooking them a little longer. And as per usual, it seems I can’t make a recipe without finding at least one unclear instruction. Here’s today’s: “2 cups cream-style cottage cheese, drained.”

Let’s parse this sentence: first, what does “cream-style” cottage cheese mean? There were several choices available to me in the grocery store but none had this designation so I bought something that looked like it would be creamy. And I tried to drain it as directed but this did not work in the least. The cottage cheese sat in the strainer forever and a day so I gave up. I’m happy to report that the lasagna was no worse for the wear.

For those of you who want to relive your youth, you can find Tupperware® items on eBay. Not all of them are vintage but it’s just fun to see what’s out there. The American Experience TV show (on PBS) showcased Tupperware a few year’s back; the video is available on their website at . Be sure to pay special attention to the “burping” seal demonstration!!

Meatless Italian Lasagna – Serves 8 to 10
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped green pepper (I had a red pepper on hand and used that)
1 cup chopped onion
¼ cup butter or margarine
2 cups sliced zucchini
1 16-ounce can tomatoes, cut up (I bought diced tomatoes)
1 12-ounce (or two, 6-ounce) cans tomato paste
2 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup snipped parsley
1 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon each – dried oregano and dried thyme, crushed
¼ teaspoon pepper
10 lasagna noodles, cooked, rinsed and drained (about 8 ounces)
2 cups cream-style cottage cheese, drained (Note: I would double this. I had to really stretch this out to make it last and while the lasagna tasted okay, it could have been creamier.)
8 slices mozzarella cheese, torn (8 ounces) (Note: that is not even close to being enough cheese to please me so I bought shredded and went to town!)
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a large saucepan, cook carrots, celery, green pepper, and onion in butter till tender but not brown. Add zucchini, undrained tomatoes, tomato paste, bay leaves, garlic, parsley, and seasoning. Simmer, covered 30 minutes; simmer, uncovered, 15 to 20 minutes more or till thickened. Discard bay leaves. (Note: You may need to add water at some point or your sauce will be too thick.)

In a 13x9x2-inch baking pan, layer one-third of the noodles, vegetable sauce, cottage cheese, and mozzarella. Repeat twice, ending with mozzarella. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Cover with foil; place on baking sheet. Bake in 350 oven 45 minutes. Uncover; bake 10 minutes more. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

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