April was one very hectic and busy month. May brings an even longer list of things to do, places to be, and people to see. There has been so much scheduling, planning, and organizing for great things to come, that I have neglected my blog this month.
That stops now. I’m back and full of new ideas and recipes. I’m also trying something different. I’m venturing into the world of savory foods. Although I am no stranger to consuming meat, I have a difficult time touching raw meat and cooking it. I have my boyfriend chef to do that for me.
But I am also the independent type and I hate having to relying on others (unless I’m feeling lazy, then that is a completely different story). Be it reaching for something that is too high for me to grab, or carrying a box that is too heavy for my weak biceps, or cooking lasagna– I like being able to fend for myself and do it on my own.
Its a meatless lasagna, it can’t be that hard to make, right?
I’m starting small and creating meatless dishes. While I am still learning, I don’t want to worry about undercooking chicken and getting myself sick with salmonella.
Ingredients for this lasagna are easy peasy. If you are pressed for time, you can even buy pre-washed and pre-sliced mushrooms as well as bagged pre-washed spinach. I’ve recently been introduced to no-boil pasta sheets. They are amazing and a great time saver.
I’ve recently been introduced to no-boil pasta sheets (sometimes called oven-ready pasta). They are amazing and a great time saver. No-boil pasta sheets come in two textures rippled and smooth. I bought mine at Trader Joe’s but they are widely available at big chain supermarkets and on Amazon.com.
Mushrooms are a wonderful alternative to meat. When cooked, mushrooms impart a nice meaty texture. Try to cook and brown the mushrooms as much as you can. Color on the mushrooms means more flavor. Its also a good idea to get as much moisture out of the mushrooms to prevent making a soggy sloppy lasagna. Any mushrooms work for this recipe. I used cremini mushrooms simply because they are cheap, flavorful, and come in large qualities at Costco.
When assembling the lasagna, if you find that your pasta sheets are too large for your baking dish, soak the noodles in hot water until tender. Then cut them to the proper size with scissors. Don’t try cutting the noodles fresh from the box. They will shatter and break.
This dish can be made ahead of time. It can chill in the fridge overnight or keep in the freezer for up to a month. Save it for a rainy day, a busy a weekend or take it to your next potluck. I love the way this lasagna turned out and I hope you’ll enjoy it as well.
I’m quite proud of myself. I think this is the first recipe on my blog that doesn’t include sugar!
Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna, adapted from Cook’s Illustrated Cover and Bake
4 Tbsp olive oil
10 oz bag spinach, washed, stemmed and roughly chopped
1 medium onion, minced
1 pound cremini mushrooms, cleaned, sliced thin
3 garlic cloves, minced
28 oz can crushed tomatoes with basil
12 no-boil lasagna noodles
6 1/2 cups ( a little over a pound) mozzarella cheese, shredded
salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet. Add spinach and cook, stirring, until spinach has wilted. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer cooked spinach to a colander. Squeeze out excess liquid and set aside.
2. Add another tablespoon of oil and heat up again. Add onions and cook until translucent. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Transfer to another bowl. Add mushrooms and saute until they are golden. Try to get the mushrooms to release as much moisture as possible. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to the bowl with the onions and garlic. Add spinach and toss to combine.
3. Spread 1/2 cup of tomatoes over the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking dish (or 2 smaller dishes if you want to freeze half). Lay 3 noodle sheets over the sauce. Make sure the noodles do not touch each other or tough the sides of the dish.
4. Spread about 2/3 cup of sauce, followed by 3/4 cup of the vegetable mixture and 1 1/3 cup cheese. Repeat this layering of noodles, sauce, vegetables and cheese twice more. For the last layer, lay the remaining three noodles and top with 1 cup tomato sauce and remaining cheese.**
5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly spray foil with nonstick cooking spray and cover the lasagna. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake until the cheese on top turns golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.
**After assembling the lasagna in step 4, you can wrap and refrigerate the lasagna for up to one day or freeze for up to one month. If frozen, let the lasagna thaw in the fridge overnight. To bake, let the lasagna sit at room temperature for one hour. Then bake as directed in step 5.