Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Vegetarian Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna


 Lent is the perfect time to add more meatless meals to your menu. I recently made this Vegetarian Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna for a family gathering, and it was a definite hit. With so many dietary restrictions and personal preferences people may have, it makes it difficult to plan gatherings these days. The Vegetarian Lasagna was an easy choice for my party. The Lasagna has layers a of Browned Mushrooms sauce, Spinach, Ricotta, Mozzarella, and Parmesan cheese.  The mushrooms have a meaty flavor and texture, so you don't even miss the meat, plus all of the gooey, gooey cheese layers.


I used the no boil lasagna noodles which saved a step, plus a pot to wash. The noodles were cooked perfectly in the pan, while being baked in the oven.  I always said that making Lasagna is a labor of love, and  your family or friends will love you for it. Enjoy!


I linked up my recipe to Brandie's The Country Cook's Weekend Potluck #111 


Vegetarian Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna Adapted from Simply Recipes


Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, roughly chopped  I used white button  mushrooms
  • 1 generous cup of chopped onions
  • 1/4 cup olive oil plus more for keeping the noodles from sticking to each other, if needed
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped (about 4 teaspoons)
  • 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes (I recommend Muir Glen brand with added basil)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 10-ounce boxes frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed in clean towel of excess moisture
  • 1 lb lasagna noodles (16 to 20 noodles) I used the no-boil noodles
  • 1 15-or-16-ounce container of ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil  I used dried basil
  • 1/4 pound pecorino or parmesan cheese, grated (about 1 cup)  I used the Parmesan cheese
  • 1 pound shredded mozzarella cheese (about 4 cups)

Directions:

1 Place mushrooms in a large (6 to 8 quart), sauté pan on high or medium high heat. Stir them with a wooden spoon or shake the pan from time to time. You may hear them squeak. Sprinkle salt over the mushrooms. The mushrooms will sizzle and then start to release water. (Note that you are not adding fat at this point to the pan; this method of cooking mushrooms in their own moisture is called "dry sautéing.) Once the mushrooms start to release water into the pan, stir in the chopped onions. Cook until the mushrooms are no longer releasing moisture and the mushroom water has boiled away, about 5 minutes more.


2 Add the olive oil to the mushrooms and stir to coat.  Saute the mushrooms and onions for about a minute.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Stir in the tomato paste, cook for a minute longer. Reserve 1 cup of the tomato sauce (it will go in the bottom of the casserole dish), and put the remaining cup of tomato sauce into the pot with the mushrooms.  Add the large can of crushed tomatoes.  Add one cup of water. Stir in the thyme, sugar, and red pepper flakes. If you are using dried basil instead of fresh, add it now.  Bring to a simmer, then lower the heat and simmer on a low simmer, for 20 minutes.

You can skip Step 3, if you use no-boil noodles!

3 Once sauce is simmering, salt the boiling pasta water, and add the dry lasagna noodles to the boiling water.  (The water should be at a vigorous, rolling boil.) Stir gently, making sure that the noodles are not sticking to each other. Set the timer for 8 minutes, or however long is indicated on the package of the noodles. Cook uncovered on a high boil. When the noodles are ready (al dente, cooked through but still firm to the bite), drain the noodles in a colander, and rinse them to cool them with cold water.  As you rinse them, gently separate them with your fingers so they don't stick to each other. Prepare a couple large cookie sheets or baking sheets by spreading a tablespoon of olive oil over the baking sheets. Place the lasagna noodles on the sheets, gently coating them with a bit of that olive oil, and spreading them out. This will help keep them from sticking to each other while you finish the sauce and prepare the layered casserole.  


I used the no-boil noodles, which eliminates Step 3. Layer the noodles over the reserved tomato sauce, as described below.  I used a 13x9 pan, and it worked well.


4 Turn off the heat on the stovetop for the sauce. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the one cup of reserved tomato sauce over the bottom of a large (preferably 10x15-inch) casserole dish. (If your casserole dish is smaller, you may need to add another layer as you go through this step.) Place a layer of lasagna noodles down over the tomato sauce, slightly overlapping. (For our 10x15-inch dish, we ultimately fit 3 layers of noodles, each layer with 6 noodles.  Then we had 2 extra noodles on which to nosh.) Sprinkle half of the ricotta cheese over the noodles. Sprinkle half of the defrosted, drained, and excess moisture squeezed out spinach over the ricotta.  Sprinkle half of the Mozzarella cheese over the spinach, and just a quarter of the pecorino  or Parmesan cheese. Then spoon 1/3 of your mushroom sauce over the Mozzarella. Sprinkle half of the fresh basil over the sauce if using.


5 Repeat the layering process. Place a second layer of noodles over the sauce. Spread the remaining ricotta, spinach, and Mozzarella over the noodles. Sprinkle another quarter of the pecorino or Parmesan along with the Mozzarella. Top with another third of the mushroom sauce and the remaining fresh basil.  Layer your final layer of lasagna noodles over the sauce. Spread the remaining sauce over the lasagna noodles, and sprinkle with the remaining pecorino or parmesan cheese.


6 Pull out a sheet of aluminum foil large enough to cover the casserole dish. Spread a little olive oil over the inside of the piece of foil (the side that will have contact with the lasagna). Place the foil over the casserole dish and crimp the edges.  Bake at 350°F for 25 minutes, then remove the foil and bake uncovered for an additional 25 minutes.


Take the lasagna out of the oven when done and let it rest 10 minutes before cutting to serve. Once made, the lasagna will last a week in the fridge or put in freezer bag and freeze for up to two  months.




6 comments:

  1. this lasagna looks very inviting...yumm yumm

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This lasagna is so good, and you don't miss the meat.

      Delete
  2. I think I prefer veggie lasagna now. Love the mushrooms in yours, wish I could get my daughter to eat them, she spots them like an owl. Lol. Hope your weather is getting better there, can't wait for this cold I have to leave, ugh.
    -Gina-

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gina,
      Mushrooms are hard to disguise, for sure. Our weather isn't getting better, as we had about 1 " of snow yestrerday:(

      Hope that you are feeling better soon!
      Hugs!

      Delete
  3. What a lovely, filling, delicious vegetarian dish!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Medeja,
      The mushroom spinach filling are so filling, you don't miss the meat with all of the yummy cheese!

      Delete

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