Food News

Project Angel Heart Shares Racines Lasagna Recipe, Celebrates Thirty Years

Project Angel Heart made its first meal delivery in 1991.
Project Angel Heart made its first meal delivery in 1991. From the Hip Photo
It all started with lasagna. In 1991, twelve lasagnas from Racines, a beloved restaurant that closed in 2020, were delivered to people living with HIV/AIDS, kicking off three decades of work at Project Angel Heart.

In 2020, the nonprofit prepared and delivered nearly 550,000 medically tailored meals to people living with life-threatening conditions including cancer, kidney disease and, as the pandemic spread, COVID-19; this year, it delivered its eight-millionth meal. The food, which is distributed in eighteen counties in Colorado, is made by a team of professional chefs, volunteers and registered dieticians and nutritionists. “It is our mission and privilege to provide nutritious meals to our neighbors in need,” says Project Angel Heart CEO Owen Ryan. “We couldn’t have reached this moment without the thousands of Coloradans — volunteers, supporters and friends — who have dedicated themselves to our mission.”

One of those supporters had a particularly big impact on Project Angel Heart's mission. Brandon Foster, a longtime Denver hospitality industry professional, left restaurants to became the Project Angel Heart executive chef for four years — then passed away suddenly in July 2020.

Along with Foster's family, the nonprofit created the Brandon Foster Culinary Excellence Fellowship, which provides two years of training and leadership for "new and emerging chefs from underrepresented communities in Colorado," according to the organization. The program is now 90 percent of the way to its goal of raising $150,000 for the fellowship program.


Along with continuing to raise funds for that program, Project Angel Heart is pursuing a new goal in honor of its thirtieth birthday: including a hand-decorated birthday cake in the deliveries for every client so that they, too, can celebrate life's milestones. It will also use funds to continue to expand its services, including its recent addition of deliveries in Boulder and Weld counties.

On October 14, you can support the organization by participating in A Taste for Life, a virtual edition of its annual fundraiser. This year, you can purchase tickets to the livestreamed program with the option of adding on a party kit for two, four or ten that includes charcuterie, ingredients for a cocktail or mocktail kit, and other party supplies.

As part of the celebration of the nonprofit's three decades of work, Governor Jared Polis proclaimed September 15 "Project Angel Heart 30th Birthday Celebration Day." But now you can celebrate the group anytime by cooking up your own Racines lasagna, as the organization has shared the recipe for its first-ever delivery just in time for a fall pasta fix.

Racines Vegetarian Lasagna

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Spinach & Mushroom Mix
2.5 lbs frozen chopped spinach (thawed 24 hours in advance and squeezed of excess moisture)
2 lbs mushrooms, sliced
1 yellow onion, sliced

1. Thaw spinach 24 hours in advance
2. Sauté mushrooms and onions until all moisture evaporates.
3. Add spinach, mix well

Cheese Mix
2 cups half & half
2 lbs whole milk ricotta
3 whole eggs
1.5 oz fresh basil, chopped
.5 oz dry oregano
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp cayenne pepper

1. Blend all ingredients

Additional ingredients
8 oz grated parmesan cheese
16 oz shredded whole milk mozzarella
1 jar prepared marinara sauce

Build the lasagna
1. Start with thin layer of marinara on bottom of 9" x 13" baking dish
2. Layer in this order, distributed evenly:
  • 4 pasta sheets
  • 1/3 mix Cheese mix
  • 1/3 mix spinach, mushroom, onion mix
  • 2 cups marinara
  • 6 oz shredded mozzarella
  • 2 oz grated parmesan
3. End with mozzarella and parmesan on top

Cooking Instructions
1. Cover with foil and bake for 50 minutes.
2. Remove foil and bake for 10 additional minutes.
3. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting and serve.

To learn more about Project Angel Heart, including how to volunteer or make a donation, visit projectangelheart.org.
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Molly Martin is the Westword Food & Drink editor. She’s been writing about the dining scene in Denver since 2013, and was eating her way around the city long before that. She enjoys long walks to the nearest burrito joint and nights spent sipping cocktails on Colfax.
Contact: Molly Martin