FMITK has hopped on to the Meatless Monday bandwagon! Yay for vegetarianism… sometimes! If vegetarian recipes aren’t your thing, you’ll hardly miss the meat (or the red sauce!) with this recipe. The mushrooms lend a hearty, “meaty”, feel and the white sauce adds a nice richness. Try it, please.
I am not a fan of making any more dishes than necessary. And this recipe is kind of a lot of dishes. Sawwwry, but it’s totally worth it, I promise. The original Ina Garten version of this recipe potentially uses a lot of cookware (4 pieces, pots alone!). The smitten kitchen adaptation got the number of pots down to 3. I managed to get it down to 1 pot, 1 pan by a) using the same pot to boil the pasta and the make the bechemel and b) cooking the mushrooms and spinach in batches in the same pan and using the baking dish to hold the cooked batches of veggies, then throwing all the veggies back in the pan when ready to assemble.
*hi fives a million angels*
But there’s still the colander, cutting board, knife and bowl you used to heat up the milk in. But still. Totally worth it. And the baking dish. Still worth it.
Mushroom and Spinach Lasagna
3/4 pound dried lasagna noodles
1 large clove garlic, minced
4 cups whole milk
3/4 cup (12 tablespoons or 1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (I used less, because this seemed like a lot)
1 1/2 pounds cremini or portobello mushrooms (I used half cremini, half portobello)
12 oz fresh baby spinach (or frozen spinach that’s been thawed, squeezed of excess water and chopped)
1 cup freshly grated parmesan
Bring a large, wide pot of water to boil with salt and a splash of oil – that helps keep your noodles from sticking together as they drain. Add the lasagna noodles and cook for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
for the bechemel
Place milk and garlic in a microwavable safe bowl and heat for 2-3 minutes in microwave and set it aside. Melt 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons or 1 stick) butter in the pot you cooked the lasagna in. Optional: You can be patient and brown the butter here for an added depth of flavor – just cook the butter until it starts to turn brown and smell nutty and delicious. Add the flour and cook for one minute over low heat, stirring constantly with a whisk or wooden spoon. Pour in the hot milk, a little at a time at first and stirring until combined. It’ll look lumpy and scary but it’s fine, keep adding milk. Once you’ve added half of it, you can add the second half all at once, along with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (I used truffle salt, mmm!), the pepper, and nutmeg. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring or whisking frequently, for 3 to 5 minutes, or until thick. Set aside.
for the mushrooms and spinach
Discard portobello mushroom stems and/or trim the ends of the cremini stems. Slice mushrooms 1/4-inch thick. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter over medium in the bottom of the large, wide pot you used to cook the noodles earlier, or in a large sauté pan. Cook half the mushrooms with a couple pinches of salt for about 5 minutes, or until they are tender and release some of their juices, tossing to make sure they cook evenly. Repeat with additional oil and butter, and remaining mushrooms. Set mushrooms aside. Drizzle a teaspoon of olive oil in the same pan and saute spinach until just wilted. Set aside with mushrooms.
put it all together
Preheat your oven to 375°F. Spread some of the sauce in the bottom of an 8 x 12 or 9 x 13 baking dish. (Ina recommends the former, I only had the latter; if you’d like to freeze or give this dish as a gift, remember to use a foil pan). Arrange a layer of noodles on top, then more sauce (about 1/4 of what remains), 1/3 of the mushrooms and spinach mix and 1/4 cup grated parmesan. Repeat two more times then top with a final layer of noodles, your remaining sauce and last 1/4 cup of parmesan.
Bake for 45 minutes, or until top is browned and the sauce is bubbly. Let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving. To freeze for future use, allow it to cool completely and wrap two to three times in plastic wrap before freezing.