Saturday, October 29, 2011

Spinach, Mushroom, and Pesto Lasagna

This is one of those meals that you wish you had doubled or tripled, just so you have some to freeze for later. It's. so. good. The dish isn't any more complicated than a traditional lasagna, really, but I thought it had loads more flavor thanks to the pesto. I did not miss the meat at all - and neither did Jason, the family carnivore. Your house will smell amazing, too, so you get a bonus!

I made my own pesto because the grocery store wanted a pretty penny for storebought. If you pick up just enough pine nuts at the bulk section of your store, it's much more economical to make it yourself. I'll include the pesto recipe, too, just in case you don't have a favorite.

I found this meal through Pinterest (anyone surprised?) and it comes from this fabulous blog, The Other Side of Fifty.

Spinach, Mushroom and Pesto Lasagna
9 lasagna noodles (I used no-boil to save a step)
10 oz chopped frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
1 large egg
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper
1 TBSP olive oil
1 TBSP butter
2 cups diced onion
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and diced (I skipped)
dash of crushed red pepper flakes
8 ounces of button mushrooms, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 TBSP all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups Half & Half
3/4 cup plus 2 TBSP basil pesto
12 oz mozzarella cheese (I used slices)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray.

In a separate baking dish place lasagna noodles and cover with boiling water. Let sit for 15 minutes while making the sauce. (skip if using no bake noodles)

In a medium size mixing bowl, combine the spinach, ricotta cheese, garlic powder and egg. Season well with salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a large skillet heat olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add the onions and bell pepper, season with salt, pepper and crushed red pepper flakes and saute until onions are translucent, 6-7 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue to saute until mushrooms lose their moisture, another 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for another minute or two. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and stir to combine. Continue cooking and stirring over medium heat for two minutes. Add the milk and half & half, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 4-5 minutes until sauce has thickened a bit. Remove from heat and stir in 3/4 cup pesto. Taste to see if salt and pepper are needed.

Drain lasagna noodles.

Spoon 2 TBSP of the pesto on the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Lay three noodles on top of the pesto. Top with 1/3 of the basil cream sauce (about 1 1/2 cups) and spread to cover noodles. Dollop 1/3 of the ricotta mixture on top of the sauce, then top the ricotta with 1/3 of the cheese slices. Repeat layers two more times. Sprinkle parmesan cheese over the top. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and place dish in oven. Bake for 25 minutes, uncover, then bake for another 25 minutes, until bubbly and browned. Let dish sit for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Easy Basil Pesto (from Food Network.com)
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese

Combine the basil, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add 1/2 cup of the oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Add all the remaining oil and pulse until smooth. Transfer the pesto to a bowl and mix in the cheese.

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