They'll never notice this is a meatless dish.
Last week, while waiting to see the eye doctor, my mom spotted this recipe in Real Simple. Since she doesn't do much cooking anymore, I'm always happy when she tells me about something she'd like to eat. Besides, mushroom and spinach lasagna sounded great to me.
There's no tomato sauce in this lasagna. They used a Bechamel sauce instead. Oddly enough, it was almost exactly like the one on my lasagna noodle package. But it's a lovely departure from tomato sauce. I changed some things around, of course, but followed the basic recipe.
At the online version of the recipe, a few people complained about how long it took to prepare the mushrooms. That didn't come as a big surprise to me, perhaps because I have roasted mushrooms before, and I know it takes a lot of mushrooms - in this case three pounds! I simplified the process by gathering three bowls, a cutting board, a knife, and a stack of paper towels before I started.
I washed the mushrooms in one bowl. If you're gasping, it's okay, you can wash mushrooms. I know we all grew up hearing that was wrong, but tests have proven that mushrooms do not absorb water when washed. It's okay to wash them.
Then I wiped them with the paper towels, removing the stems. Stems went into a bowl and mushrooms stayed on the cutting board until it was full. Then it was a snap to slice, slice, slice and they went into bowl number three. It took about 20 minutes to clean and slice all of the mushrooms.
That said, I have never made a lasagna that wasn't work intensive. There are so many layers. Alas, this is not a get-home-from-work-and-whip-it-up recipe. It's a Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon recipe. I think you could probably assemble it and refrigerate until you're ready to bake it, but I haven't tried.
The recipe calls for 1 1/2 pounds of portobellas and 1 1/2 pounds of cremini mushrooms. I used 12 ounces of portobellas, 4 ounces of shitaki, 1 pound of cremini (aka baby bellas), and 1/2 pound of white mushrooms. I added the shitaki because they're supposed to be so good for us. The white mushrooms were a substitution because I wiped the store out of cremini! In the end, I wouldn't worry too much about the mushroom mix. Once they're roasted it's kind of hard to tell anyway.
I did add eight cloves of garlic, roasting them about 10 minutes with the mushrooms. And instead of frozen spinach, I used one pound of fresh baby spinach leaves. The recipe calls for six cups of whole milk, and I suspect it would be wise to use it. I haven't bought whole milk in forever, so I used 5 3/4 cups of nonfat milk and 1/4 cup of heavy cream to add some fat. Their recipe calls for no-boil lasagna noodles but I used regular lasagna noodles.
Ahem. I did make one mistake. Turns out it might have been a good one. I wasn't paying full attention and instead of stirring 1/2 a cup of Parmesan into the sauce, I stirred in a whole cup! Yikes. Not exactly the kind of thing you can undo.
I wish we had smell-a-vision. The scent of mushrooms roasting with thyme blended with the nutty scent of nutmeg. Guaranteed to make anyone want to eat! In spite of all that parmesan cheese, we both thought it could use more salt. And I might be inclined to slip some mozzarella into the layers as well. It would be a huge hit with vegetarian guests because it's a very hearty and filling meatless dish.
Mushroom and Spinach Lasagna
(based on a recipe from Real Simple)
12 ounces portobello mushrooms
16 ounces cremini (Baby Bella) mushrooms
8 ounces white mushrooms
4 ounces shitaki mushrooms
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
3/4 teaspoon salt
8 cloves garlic, peeled
12 lasagna noodles
1 pound fresh baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for the foil
1/2 cup flour
5 3/4 cups nonfat milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Preheat oven to 400.
Wash mushrooms and remove stems. Slice. Slice the portobellos in half first, then slice.
Spread mushrooms on two baking sheets. Mix together olive oil, thyme, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Pour half over each sheet of mushrooms and toss. Bake 10 minutes.
Add the whole garlic cloves to the mushrooms and roast 10 minutes longer.
Meanwhile, cook spinach leaves, and cook noodles. Drain spinach, press out liquid and chop. Remove mushrooms from oven. Turn the oven heat down to 375. Chop roasted garlic.
Place butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, and whisk in flour. Whisk about 2 minutes, until it begins to bubble (do not let it get dark). Combine the milk with the cream and slowly whisk into butter. Bring to a simmer and cook about five minutes, whisking gently, until the sauce thickens.
Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup of Parmesan, 3/4 teaspoon salt, pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg.
Pour 1/2 cup sauce on the bottom of a 9x13 baking pan.
Lay 4 noodles in the pan.
Spread 1/2 cup sauce over the noodles.
Sprinkle with 1/2 the garlic.
Sprinkle with 1/2 the spinach.
Add half the mushrooms.
Top with 1/2 cup of the sauce.
Lay four more noodles in the pan and repeat.
Top with remaining four noodles and remaining sauce. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup Parmesan.
Butter a sheet of foil and cover the pan. Bake 15 -20 minutes until the sauce bubbles. Take off the foil and bake another 20-25 minutes until the top is lightly browned. Let rest for 15 minutes before cutting.
|That's a lot of mushrooms!|
|That's not much spinach! 1 pound before cooking.|
|Add parmesan, nutmeg, and salt to the sauce.|
|Sprinkle parmesan on top.|
|Lightly browned on top.|
|Loaded with mushrooms!|