Showing posts with label lasagna. Show all posts
Showing posts with label lasagna. Show all posts

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Cheater Spinach Lasagna #recipe @LucyBurdette

LUCY BURDETTE: I've made plenty of stuffed shells in my day but never a lasagna. So with company coming and lots of work on my desk, I decided now was the time. This version is tweaked from the Mueller's pasta box, and I used spinach rather than meat sauce. The cheater part comes in because the noodles don't have to be pre-boiled. I did substitute fresh mozzarella for the packaged dried cheese, which is high in sodium. I had never tried this before and was not quite certain it would work…here goes...


24 ounces ricotta cheese
8 ounces fresh mozzarella
24 ounce jar good marinara sauce (like Gia Russa Sicilian)
Two packages frozen spinach
Eight fresh basil leaves, if you have them
Fresh grated Parmesan
2 eggs
One package oven-ready lasagna noodles

Thaw the spinach and squeeze it dry. Shred the mozzarella. Grate the Parmesan. Snip the basil into shreds.

Mix the cheeses, the dried spinach, basil, and the eggs in a large bowl. 

Grease a 9 x 13 pan. In the bottom of the pan, spread one third of the sauce. Cover the sauce with dried noodles (about 3 1/2.) 

Spread one half of the cheese spinach mixture on top of the noodles. 

Top the cheese mixture with another layer of lasagna noodles. Spread one third of the sauce over those noodles. 

Add the remainder of the cheese mixture, top with more noodles, finish with the rest of the sauce and some grated Parmesan.

Cover with an oiled piece of aluminum foil. Bake at 375 for about 50 minutes. Remove the foil and bake 10 minutes more. Let sit for 10 to minutes before serving with a green salad and fresh bread.

And the results were declared delicious by the guests--that's what counts, right? (And it didn't take all day...which is good, because I needed to be working on Food Critic Mystery #8!) And once again, while busy serving, I forgot to take a great photo of the finished dinner!

Lucy writes the Key West food critic mysteries. Follow her on Facebook, TwitterPinterest, and Instagram!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Skillet and Three Bowl Lasagna

My favorite lasagna recipe is an all day affair. Really. Starting with homemade sauce, of course. As good as it is, I don't often have an entire day to spend in the kitchen. So when I saw a skillet lasagna, I was intrigued and studied up on them.

The good news is you can make it just about any way you want. There are tons of variations. I think it was Food Network that used egg noodles. Some people use no-cook lasagna noodles, while others use the regular kind. The main difference being the cooking time and the amount of stirring. Some of the results sounded (to me) more like lasagna soup, which could actually be good but wasn't what I had in mind.

You can use spinach and veggies, or ground beef, or ground pork, or your favorite sausage. Naturally, you should go with your favorite bottled pasta sauce because that's the dominant flavor. Bottled? I heard gasps. If you have your own pasta sauce ready to go, then use it by all means. But the point of the skillet lasagna is to cut down on preparation time. And it doesn't make a bucket load, which is nice if you only have two to four people eating it.

I made mine in a 12-inch cast iron skillet, though any large skillet would certainly do. Leslie told me I had to try no-cook lasagna noodles, so I used those. A word of caution. If you use regular noodles, you will probably have to break them up into small pieces and turn them occasionally in the sauce to be sure they cook. Also plan on about 10-15 more minutes of cooking time.

Now, I had my heart set on layers, just like a regular lasagna, so that's why this is Skillet and Three Bowl Lasagna. You can cook everything in the skillet, but if you want layers, you need to take everything out to layer it properly.

The number of noodles will depend somewhat on the size of your skillet and the size of the noodles. You will have to break them to fit into the skillet, which is fine. So plan on 9+ noodles. It's a great way to use up broken pieces. Be sure to fill in around the corners with little bits but make sure they're covered with sauce so they don't dry out.

Be sure to slice the mozzarella in thin slices so you won't end up with a mouthful of chewy cheese. (Okay, I know some of you are thinking chewy cheese sounds good!) Grated mozzarella would work, too.

There are two ways of preparing this: stovetop and oven. I think it's fabulous that it can be done on the stove top. Remember that you need a lid for that method. Cover the lasagna and let it simmer for about 25 minutes. I happen to like putting things in the oven and forgetting about them while they bake. I did not use a lid at all but be sure you have an oven-proof skillet.

Layer however you like but be sure you have a layer of sauce either over or under the noodles.

The verdict? It's pretty good! There's still some chopping and cooking to do, so allow yourself about an hour of prep time. Still, that's a lot less than my old way of making lasagna!

Skillet and Three Bowl Lasagna

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion (about one small onion)
4 large garlic cloves
3/4 pound ground beef
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, divided 1/2 + 1/2
1 teaspoon salt, divided 1/2 + 1/2
1 egg
1 cup Ricotta cheese
26 ounces of your favorite pasta sauce
1 cup chopped tomatoes with liquid
9-ish no-cook lasagna noodles
4 - 6 ounces or so mozzarella, thinly sliced or grated
1/3 cup grated Parmesan

If using oven, preheat oven to 350.

Chop the onions and mince the garlic. Slice the mozzarella. Heat the olive oil on medium in the skillet. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the ground beef, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning and cook, breaking up the meat until the beef is cooked though. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste and mix. Remove to bowl #1.

While the onions and the beef are cooking, place the egg, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste in bowl #2 and whisk together. Add the ricotta cheese and combine. Set aside.

Mix together the pasta sauce and the chopped tomatoes in the skillet. When they are warm and combined, remove to bowl #3, leaving enough sauce in the skillet to cover the bottom.

Lay the noodles over the sauce in the pan, breaking them as necessary to fit. Top with half the meat mixture. Then spoon 1/2 of the ricotta mixture over the meat. Layer 1/2 the mozzarella on the pan and top with 1/3 of the remaining sauce. Add another layer of noodles and top with the remaining meat, then the remaining mozzarella, and then the remaining sauce. Top with the mozzarella. Sprinkle the Parmesan over the top. Bake at 350 for 30 - 35 minutes. Test a corner of pasta to be sure it's cooked through.

Let rest 10 - 15 minutes before cutting.

Cook onions in olive oil.
Cook ground beef, onions, garlic, and herbs. Bowl #1.
Lightly whisk onion, herbs, and salt, then add ricotta. Bowl #2.
Combine sauce and chopped tomatoes. Bowl #3.
Layer pasta and meat over sauce.
Add slices of mozzarella.
Make a second layer.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Meatless Monday Mushroom and Spinach Lasagna

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
black pepper

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!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Chicken-Kale Lasagna Recipe from @AveryAames

From Daryl aka Avery:

Happy new year!

Yes, it's football time and the Super Bowl is just around the corner, but it's cheese time for me. Why? Because I have another book coming out in the Cheese Shop Mystery series: DAYS OF WINE AND ROQUEFORT, so for about a month now, everything is cheese (and possibly some wine).

By the way, starting next week, I'll be doing a book giveaway every week until the launch of my book, so check back in. 

In addition to doing the PR work necessary to launch another book, I've been writing the 6th in the series and learning about a horde of new cheeses, like: Hooligan from Cato Corner or Tarentaise from Thistle Farm. I haven't tasted them all. Right now it's reading research, but I'm salivating over the descriptions on all the cheese sites I visit.

To that end, I offer you one of my favorite all-time meals, lasagna - heavy on the cheese! This one, a chicken lasagna, includes all sorts of goodies, like kale. It's high in fiber, zero fat, lots of iron and lots of vitamin K, which helps prevent against cancer.

Chicken-Kale Lasagna


(serves 6-8)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1 small sweet onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons tomato paste
½ cup chardonnay (white wine)
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
3 bay leaves
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper

1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound lasagna noodles
(*real; not no-boil) (gluten-free okay)
Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
2 cups kale, stems removed
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
30 ounces part-skim ricotta cheese
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup MORE chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon ground pepper
4 cups grated Mozzarella cheese (about 1 lb)

2 cups grated Asiago cheese


To make the sauce:
Heat the olive oil in a large (and I mean large) skillet over medium heat; add the chicken and cook until browned. Turn every minute, for 5 minutes. 

 Add the chopped onion, chopped garlic, and tomato paste. Cook, stirring, until the onions soften, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and cook until the wine evaporates, about 5  minutes. Stir in 3 cups water, crushed tomatoes, bay leaves, and parsley. Add 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to mediu low and simmer 50 minutes. Using a spoon, break up the chicken. Cook another 20 minutes, until thickened. Remove the bay leaves.


Prepare the lasagna according to the package. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook (about half what the label directs). Drain the noodles and drizzle with olive oil; set aside.


Place the kale in a large microwave-safe bowl. Add ½ cup water and ¼ teaspoon salt. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave until tender, about 3 minutes on high. Draing and rinse under cold  water. Press out all the excess water. Stir in the eggs, ricotta, ¼ cup of the Parmesan cheese, and the extra chopped parsley. Add 1 teaspoon salt and 4-5 grinds of the pepper.

2 cups of kale
cooks down to about 3/4 cup

In a separate bowl, toss the Mozzarella, Asiago, and the remaining Paremsan.

Turn on oven to 350 degrees F.

Spread 3/4 cup of the sauce in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Top with 1/3 of the noodles. Overlap, layering long ones first and then short ones crosswise. Cover with half of the kale-ricotta mixture. Then 2 more cups sauce. Cover with half of the Mozzarella cheese mixture.

Repeat the layers (noodles, kale-ricotta mixture, sauce, cheese).

Set on a baking sheet. (This will bubble over.)

Loosely cover with foil (you don’t want the foil to stick to the cheese). Bake 40 minutes, then uncover and bake another 25 minutes. You might want to raise the heat to 400 degrees F.

Let stand 30 minutes before serving.

 * Great reheated the next day. One hour at 300 degrees F.

What is it about casseroles that they won't hold together when they are piping hot? We couldn't wait the 30 minutes "standing" time recommended. It smelled just too darned good!

REMEMBER, I'm doing a book giveaway starting NEXT WEEK, every week until launch. The books will include either your choice of the first four books in A Cheese Shop Mystery series or the first in A Cookbook Nook Mystery series.

PS   INHERIT THE WORD, the second in the Cookbook Nook series, comes out in March!  Hmmm. I might do giveaways through the month of February, too.


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Next up: 
Days of Wine and Roquefort Feb 2014, preorder here
Inherit the Word March 2014, preorder here

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