Here’s our yard in February 2014. It’s hard to be excited about gardening, but my husband usually manages to bring a little spring into our home every winter. However, this year he’s had a few rough months, starting with our trip to Mexico in October. Finally, now in the first week of March, he’s showing signs of improvement after the final diagnosis of chronic diffused sinusitis and asthma.
His lack of energy, weight loss, and nagging cough worried me. But nothing worried me more than the day Robert looked at me after a particularly bad bout of coughing.
“I don’t think I can put a garden in this year,” he said. His shoulders drooped, and life seemed to have fled his eyes.
That one statement scared me more than anything else. My husband has never not had a garden. He grew up working with his father in his garden, and since he’s lived on his own, he’s always grown food. For him to give up gardening is to give up on living.
The next few weeks saw little improvement as I hovered and continued to push him back to life. Then slowly it began to happen two weeks ago. He perked up and ordered a few seeds from the dozens of catalogs arriving daily. He read about grafted tomato plants that resisted disease and asked me to order a few of them for delivery in April. I held my breath, until yesterday, when I knew we’d turned a corner. At brunch, I ordered an omelet stuffed with spinach. I said it tasted fresh but not quite as fresh as his straight from the garden.
“I need to get spinach seeds started this week,” he said. “We need to get those in the ground this month.”
Here’s one of my favorite winter recipes, using our tomato sauce and spinach we froze the previous spring.
We enjoy this meal in the winter, using our canned tomato sauce and frozen spinach. You can do any variation you’d like, such as adding more vegetables or meat. I’ve developed this recipe over many years until I’ve finally found the right formula for having lasagna that is tasty and not liquidy when pulled out of the pan. One of the keys is to make the lasagna with raw noodles.
Ingredients – Gather all ingredients together before layering
7-8 cups tomato sauce
Lasagna noodles, raw (doesn’t use an entire box, but about 2/3)
l lb. mozzarella cheese
¾ cup of parmesan cheese
Filling – mix together the following ingredients
2 ½ cups cottage cheese (you can use ricotta, but I prefer cottage)
2 cups chopped and cooked spinach (frozen or fresh; this amount is for spinach cooked)
salt, pepper to taste
dash of nutmeg
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a 13” x 9” x 2”, begin layering as follows:
Small layer of sauce on bottom of pan
½ of filling
1/3 of sauce
½ of mozzarella cheese
Rest of filling
Another 1/3 of sauce
Rest of mozzarella cheese
Rest of sauce
Parmesan (or Romano works as well)
Cover and bake 60 minutes. Uncover and bake for additional 10 minutes. Take out of oven and allow to set for 15 minutes before serving. Freezes exceptionally well, and it’s even better as leftovers the next day.
This recipe and many more can be found in our book From Seed to Table, available both on Kindle and in paperback.