Saturday, February 1, 2014

Vegetarian Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna

We did not get to go to the store this time and wanted to make something out of the ingredients that we already had at home, so we decided to make this Vegetarian Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna recipe that Ivan found online.  We had to substitute some ingredients, but the lasagna turned out better than we expected.  We put less cheese and tomato sauce than the original recipe asked for, therefore it was not as heavy as you would expect it.  Here is our recipe for this tasty vegetarian lasagna:

- 1 1/2 pounds of mushrooms (shiitake and button mushrooms), chopped
- salt, to taste
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 4 green onions, chopped
- olive oil, about 3 tablespoons or more if you would like
- 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1 small can of tomato sauce (16 oz) (reserve 1 cup for the end)
- 1 tomato, chopped (or more if you would like)
- 1 small can of cream of mushroom soup (optional)
- 1 cup of water
- 1 teaspoon of dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tablespoon of sugar
- 1-2 pounds of fresh spinach, washed and squeezed in clean towel of excess moisture
- 1 pound of lasagna noodles (16 to 20 noodles)
- 1 container of ricotta cheese (15 or 16 ounces) (we did not have as much left, so we added some sour cream and cream cheese and mixed it)
- 1/4 cup of chopped fresh basil
- 1 cup of Parmesan cheese, grated
- 4 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 large glass casserole dish, preferably 10x15 inches (ours was a little bit smaller, but still worked)

- Place mushrooms in a large (6 to 8 quart) pan on medium-high heat.  Stir them with a wooden spoon or shake the pan from time to time.  
- Sprinkle salt over the mushrooms and they will start to release water
- Once the mushrooms start to release water, add the chopped onions and green onions.
- Cook until the mushrooms are no longer releasing moisture and the water has evaporated (about 5 more minutes)
- Add the olive oil to the mushrooms and onions and stir to coat and saute for about a minute.
- Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
- Reserve 1 cup of tomato sauce (it will go in the bottom of the casserole dish), and put the remaining tomato sauce and chopped tomato into the pot with the mushrooms.
- Add 1 cup of water.
- Add the cream of mushroom to the mix (if you decide to use it).
- 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 low for about 20 minutes.

- Once the sauce is simmering, cook the pasta in salted water (I add a little bit of olive oil to the water too). Stir gently, making sure that the noodles are not sticking to each other and cook uncovered for about 8 minutes (or however long is indicated on the package) until 'el dente'.  Drain the noodles in colander and rinse them in cold water.  As you rinse them, gently separate them so they don't stick to each other.
- Turn off the heat for the sauce after cooking for about 20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- Spread the one cup of reserved tomato sauce over the bottom of the casserole dish.
- Place a layer of lasagna noodles over the tomato sauce, slightly overlapping.
- Spread half of the ricotta cheese (we also had sour cream and cream cheese mix) over the noodles. 
- Sprinkle half of the spinach over the ricotta cheese.
- Sprinkle half of the mozzarella cheese over the spinach.
- Then add a quarter of the Parmesan cheese on top.
- Add 1/3 of the mushroom sauce over the mozzarella and sprinkle half of the fresh basil over the sauce (if using).

- Repeat the layering process.
- Place a second layer of noodles over the sauce.
- Spread the remaining ricotta, spinach, mozzarella and Parmesan over the noodles.
- Top with another 1/3 of the mushroom sauce and the remaining fresh basil.
- Layer the final layer of lasagna noodles over the sauce.
- Spread the remaining mushroom sauce over the noodles, then sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese. 

- Place a sheet of aluminum foil over the casserole dish to cover. (Make sure to spread a little bit of oil over the inside of the foil so that the lasagna does not stick to it.)
- 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 for 10 minutes before cutting to serve.

Bon appetit! : )

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