Keeping with the theme of good Italian-American comfort food recipes that are great to make in the winter, this week I’m sharing a modified recipe I found on the web and made my own. I prefer to make this without meat because it is a little lighter, and I use a shortcut that would make adding meat more tedious.
There are three phases to this recipe. The first phase requires the food prep (chopping your veggies). The second phase requires making the filling and boiling the pasta (ever so briefly). And finally, the third phase involves assembly and baking. The ingredients you will need for this recipe include:
1 box of lasagna pasta
1 1/2 jar of good marinara sauce
8 oz of mushrooms (I use baby bella)
1 sweet onion
3-4 garlic cloves
2 bags of prewashed baby spinach
16 oz of Ricotta cheese
4 oz of shredded mozzarella cheese
4 oz of grated Parmesan cheese
Phase 1: The Prep
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, lightly oil your baking pan and start to boil your water in a large pot for the lasagna. Roughly chop the mushrooms and parsley and mince the garlic and onion then set aside.
Phase 2: Making The Filling
Add olive oil to a pan on medium high heat and sauté the onions. As they start to soften turn the heat down to medium and add the garlic and mushrooms. After they cook, remove and place in the refrigerator to cool. In the same pan, add a drop or two of olive oil, your spinach and a pinch or two of salt. Stir to prevent from sticking to the pan – this should wilt in 1-2 minutes – and take out to cool.
In a large mixing bowl, add the Ricotta cheese, half your grated Parmesean cheese, egg, sautéed veggies and spinach. The vegetables don’t need to be cold but you don’t want them to melt the cheese. Blend or mix these ingredients so they evenly combine. Then add a cup of roughly chopped parsley and a healthy amount of black pepper and dried seasonings (don’t be shy with this) and stir until combined then set aside for assembly.
Once the water is boiling and you’ve finished your mixture (see above) add your lasagna. My mother doesn’t bother with this step, but I boil the lasagna for about 5 minutes so it is easier to manage. If you don’t briefly cook the pasta it is more difficult to manipulate and trim to fit into your baking dish.
Phase 3: The Assembly & Bake
Drizzle a little oliver oil on the bottom of your baking pan and use a paper towel to spread evenly along the bottom and sides. Then place one layer of lasagna so it completely covers the bottom of the baking pan. This is where having a pliable pasta you can trim makes assembly so much easier.
Then take approximately 1/3 of the cheese fillling and spread it on top of the lasagna noodles. I use a good jarred marinara sauce and pour it over the cheese mixture, using my spatula to spread so it completely covers the cheese filling. Then add a thin layer of shredded mozzarella. Repeat this process two more times so you have three layers of pasta, cheese sauce, red sauce and mozzarella. Finally, sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the top of the lasagna.
Cover the baking pan with foil to your preheated oven and bake for 1 hour. If you want extra red sauce with your lasagna, now is the time to make a quick sauce to serve on the side. I use the same jarred sauce and heat it up with some diced onions and parsley.