Thursday, May 9, 2013

Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna

Most of the time, I hope to cook dishes that highlight the item(s) from the weekly share, and not bury them amid other flavors like I'm doing here. However, we were already planning lasagna this week, and I had no intention of  skipping one of my favorite dishes.  Normally, the recipe uses frozen spinach that has been thawed and dried, so it was not a big stretch to substitute the fresh leaves from the share.

This recipe is based on one that I learned from my lovely wife, which she originally got from the Food Network.  I have made a few changes to the ingredients and assembly procedure.  You start with a bechamel sauce at the bottom of the lasagna pan and then build the lasagna from there.

The tomato sauce is my own recipe for a basic marinara that I prefer to use, but you can substitute your favorite if you like.

We also put together small tossed salad as a side using some of the other items in the share.

Share Contents Used:
All 6 oz of the spinach in the lasagna
A few leaves of the red leaf lettuce plus a couple radishes for the side salad.

Recipe for Spinach Mushroom Lasagna is as follows:

Bechamel Sauce:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
Pinch ground nutmeg

Melt the butter in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the flour and whisk for 3 minutes. Whisk in the milk. Increase the heat to medium-high. Whisk the sauce until it comes to a simmer and is thick and smooth, about 3 minutes. Whisk the salt, pepper, and nutmeg into the bechamel sauce.

Tomato Sauce:
1/3 cup chopped onion
1 tbs olive oil
1 32 oz can of crushed tomatoes
1/4 tsp dry basil
1/4 tsp dry oregano
Dash of cinnamon
Salt & Pepper to taste

Saute the onion with the olive oil in a medium saucepan until soft.  Do not let them brown.  Add the tomatoes, basil, oregano and cinnamon.  Bring to a simmer, cover and let cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season to taste.

Optional Step - Remove from heat and blend until smooth using a stick blender.  (I do this because I prefer the smooth texture that I get by doing this, but you can skip it if you don't mind a slightly chunky sauce.)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup yellow onion, fine dice
1 16 oz container baby bella mushrooms, coarsely chopped
6 ounces fresh spinach, washed and chopped
1 15 oz container whole milk ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
12 cooked lasagna noodles
Bechamel Sauce
Tomato sauce
Shredded mozzarella

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  When hot, add the onions and mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook until the onions are slightly browned and all the liquid has evaporated from the mushrooms.  Add the spinach and cook until it has wilted.  Add the ricotta, parmesan and pepper and stir until the cheese is warm and everything is completely mixed.  Remove from the heat and keep warm until ready to use.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil the lasagna noodles until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain. Arrange the noodles in a single layer on a baking sheet to prevent them from sticking.

Pour all the bechamel sauce over the bottom of a 13-by-9-by-2-inch glass baking dish. Lay 3 lasagna noodles on top of the bechamel, top each noodle with some of the ricotta mixture. Spread around 1/2 a cup of the tomato sauce over the ricotta and then sprinkle with a little mozzarella.  Repeat the layering procedure until all the ricotta filling is used, ending with lasagna noodles on the top.  Spread around 1 cup of tomato sauce over the top of the last noodles and sprinkle generously with mozzarella . Cover tightly with foil. Bake until heated through and the sauce bubbles, about 20 minutes. Uncover and bake until the cheese on top becomes golden, about 15 minutes longer. Let stand for 10 minutes. Serve with additional tomato sauce if desired.

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