Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a fantastic weekend. After the first week of the new semester (which is always slightly chaotic & nerve-racking, even for those of us in front of the classroom!), I was really looking forward to a weekend of fun. I spent Friday in a cooking/baking frenzy and then spent the rest of the weekend indulging in some much-needed girl time: a fabulous lunch at Fig and Olive with my blogger crew on Saturday and an equally fantastic brunch with Diana at The Southern on Sunday. I ended the weekend next to Mario on the couch with some our favorite TV shows (which is my favorite way to close out Sunday). :-)
Part of my cooking/baking frenzy on Friday included trying out a new vegetarian lasagna recipe. When the good folks at Red Gold Tomatoes contacted me to see if I would be interested in participating in their Simple Gourmet Lasagna promotion, I knew it was the perfect opportunity to experiment and finally find a vegetarian recipe that I love. I've tried many iterations of veggie lasagna over the years and overall, I tend to hate them. First, most vegetarian lasagna recipes call for eggplant in the starring role; while I don't hate eggplant, I can't say I've ever met one that I've really loved. Also, in my experience, I've found that many veggie lasagnas are ultimately filled with soggy vegetables (usually squash) and little flavor.
For this recipe, I nixed the idea of using squash or eggplant and instead focused on two of my favorite vegetarian staples: spinach and mushrooms. Also, in an attempt to cut calories, but not flavor, I lightened up the amount of cheese, doubled up the amount of spinach, and focused on enhancing the natural flavors of the various mushrooms. The results yielded an unbeatable vegetarian lasagna that even my meat-loving boyfriend highly enjoyed!
1 pound cremini mushrooms
½ pound shiitake mushrooms
½ pound chopped button mushrooms
1 cup chopped yellow onion
4 cloves garlic, chopped (about 4 teaspoons)
1 can (28 ounce) Red Gold Crushed Tomatoes (provided in the lasagna kit)
2 10-ounce boxes frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed of excess moisture
1 (16 ounce) box of lasagna noodles (provided in the lasagna kit)
3 cups of shredded low fat mozzarella cheese
1 (15 ounce) container of low fat ricotta cheese
¼ pound pecorino cheese grated (approximately 1 cup)
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons Herbes de Provence
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes (reduce to 1 teaspoon for a less heat)
1. Roughly chop cremini and shiitake mushrooms (I kept the crimini fairly large to simulate a more meaty texture) and place in a large sauté pan on medium high heat. After a few minutes, sprinkle lightly with salt. Once mushrooms begin the release moisture, add in onions. Cook until the mushrooms are no longer releasing moisture and the mushroom water has boiled away (approximately 5 minutes).
2. Lightly coat mushroom and onion mixture in olive oil and sauté for another minute. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute. Reserve 1 cup of the tomato sauce and add the remaining sauce into the pan. Stir in the Herbes de Provence and red pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer, then lower the heat and simmer on low for 15 minutes.
3. Once sauce is simmering, prepare noodles according to the package. Once noodles are al dente, drain and rinse them to cool them with cold water (gently separate them with your fingers as you're rinsing so that they don't stick together).
4. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the one cup of reserved tomato sauce over the bottom of a large (preferably 10x15) casserole dish. Place a layer of lasagna noodles down over the tomato sauce, slightly overlapping. Spoon half of the ricotta cheese over the noodles. Sprinkle half of the defrosted, drained spinach over the ricotta (it's very important that the spinach is squeezed of excess moisture!). Sprinkle half of the mozzarella and ¼ of the pecorino cheese over the spinach. Then spoon a layer of your mushroom sauce over the mozzarella. Sprinkle half of the fresh basil over the sauce. Repeat the layering process and sprinkle the top with the remaining pecorino cheese.
5. Lightly brush olive oil over the inside of a piece of foil (the side that will have contact with the lasagna). Place the foil over the casserole dish and crimp the edges. Bake at 350°F for 25 minutes, then remove the foil and bake uncovered for an additional 25 minutes.
Want to win your own Lasagna Party Kit? Enter below! Also, make sure you stop by the Red Gold Tomatoes Facebook page to enter to win a Le Creuset Lasagna Party Kit!