Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Lasagne al Forno

I love lasagna.  I just don't like to make it -- it really takes a long time to prepare and I am a lazy cook.  This recipe, however, was so delicious it was certainly worth the effort.

Now this may get to be a bit of a bitch-fest, but I have to admit I had a few problems with this recipe. The recipe calls for 8 cups of spinach but I couldn't fit it all in the casserole.  In fact I don't think I even used half that amount.  I had assumed I would have to cook the spinach before layering in the casserole but I read the directions three times and saw no mention about cooking the spinach.  Maybe it's a typo.  Next time I'll try cooking the spinach first before layering in the lasagna.   And how many baking dishes am I supposed to have?  The recipe calls for an 8x11 baking dish!  8x11!  I have a 8x8, 7x9, 11x13, 13x17, but have never even seen an 8x11!  I used my 7x9 pan -- worked fine.  Now I am not a fast chopper, and it probably took me a half hour just to prep the veggies (there are a lot!), and with the cooking time for the sauce I think it was almost two hours before I could put the lasagna in the oven and sit down for a rest.  Whew!  I was tired!  The only substitution I had to make was 2 tbsp of tomato paste for the sun-dried tomatoes.  

Makes 6 servings 

Mushroom Sauce
1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
12 ounces mushrooms, wiped clean and chopped (4 cups)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil), very finely chopped (2 tbsp)
1 tsp dried thyme leaves
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

White Sauce
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups 1% milk
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1 pound no-boil lasagna noodles
8 cups spinach leaves
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (2 ounces), divided. 

1. To prepare the mushroom sauce:   Heat 1/2 tbsp oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add onion, carrot and celery; cook, stirring, until the onion has softened, about 5 minutes.  Add mushrooms and garlic; cook until the mushrooms release their liquid, 2 to 3 minutes.  Add wine; cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. 
2.  Stir in diced tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes and thyme; bring to a simmer.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring often, until the sauce is thick, about 1 hour.  Season with salt and pepper. 
3.  To prepare white sauce:  Heat the remaining 1 tbsp oil in a heavy saucepan over low heat.  Add flour and cook, whisking constantly, until the flour starts to turn light brown, about 3 minutes.  remove from the heat and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce bubbles and thickens.  Season with nutmeg and salt to taste. 
4.  To assemble & bake lasagna:  Preheat oven to 375F.  Coat an 8z11 1/2 inch baking dish with cooking spray. 

5.  Spread 1/2 cup of the mushroom sauce in the prepared pan, arrange a layer of noodles on top and spread with another 1/2 cup of the mushroom sauce.  Arrange a layer of spinach over the sauce and drizzle with 1/3 cup of the white sauce.  Sprinkle 2 tbsp Parmesan over the spinach and top with another layer of noodles.  Repeat this layering five more times.  Spread the remaining white sauce over the top layer of noodles, covering completely.  Cover with foil. 

 6.  Bake the lasagna for 30 minutes.  Uncover, sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan, and bake until golden, about 20 minutes longer.  Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Per serving:  510 calories; 12g fat; 19mg cholesterol; 76 carbohydrate; 29g protein; 17g fiber; 413mg sodium.  
Nutrition Bonus:  130% DV vitamin A, 66% DV fiber, 42% DV Folate, 40% DV calcium, 40% DV Iron

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