TheWife came home with a basket of farmer’s market produce; one of those purchase-a-random-basket-full-of-stuff-you-may-or-may-not-want but are guaranteed to love. This one had apples, potatoes, artichokes, mushrooms, and fresh spinach. Random.
But as soon as I saw it I thought “lasagna”.
Of course, to be fair, I think “lasagna” when I see tennis shoes. Or trees swaying in the wind.
But THIS time I thought “healthy lasagna!” which is different and makes me feel better about myself.
Over Christmas one of my sister had sent me a big package of provel cheese. It’s a processed cheese invented and used in the St. Louis area that is a blend of swiss, provolone, and cheddar. And love, they include a lot of love when they make it. With a smoky, smooth flavor when it is melted, provel is perfect for this lasagna… so that sort of counteracts any sort of healthy-stuff I put in there. I have decided to call it a draw.
Lets be honest: lasagna is one of the basics of cooking. It’s not rocket science by far. If you have done even a little cooking, you have already made one. I did my first one at 16 to impress a girl. The only thing different in lasagna recipes would be what you put in the layers. If you are a seasoned lasagna maker, I salute you! Just look at the pictures and drool. If you have never made it before, I will give you a few points that I have learned over time.
Homemade marinara sauce (or 2 jars of your favorite) – I will make a post at some other time detailing my extremely easy homemade sauce. Why buy something sub-par when you could make something quickly and way more amazing?
1lb of Spinach
1lb of baby bellas Mushrooms
3 cloves of garlic (we enjoy a lot of garlic!)
1 box of no-boil lasagna noodles
8 oz of provel shredded cheese for topping
—For the Ricotta—
16oz of ricotta cheese
6oz of parmesan cheese
1 tsp nutmeg
1 cup of shredded provel cheese
Place the garlic, spinach, and mushrooms in your favorite food processor and blend it down. There is a lot of moisture in both spinach and mushrooms, so you are going to need to cook it out. Put it in a pan over medium low heat and spread it out. You will need to come back and stir it to keep it from burning or only partially cooking. You are not really trying to cook it, anyways… just heat it up to get rid of the moisture.
Usually it takes me about 10 minutes to get it where I want it; the best way to tell is that there are less moisture boiling out than when you started. Place it in a bowl off to the side.
Mix the ricotta cheese, 2 eggs, Parmesan, nutmeg and provel in a separate bowl.
So now, you will have a bowl of ricotta mixture, a bowl of the mushroom/spinach blend, and a bowl of marinara sauce.
Layer a little sauce onto the bottom of the pan (about a cup full) and lay the sheets of noodles on top.
By starting with some of the sauce on the bottom, you help the noodles not stick, help them plump up with some moisture, and is just delicious to have it on the bottom of a piece of lasagna bite.
Creating layers is what a good lasagna is all about. So, now that you have your first layer of noodles, here is how you do it: a thin layer of the sauce on top of the noodles, a thin layer of the ricotta mixture, a thin layer of the mushroom/spinach blend, and a new layer of noodles.
Repeat until everything is gone!
Your goal for the end is going to be a final layer of noodles, the rest of the marinara (be sure to reserve about a cup and a half for the top) and put the provel all across the top. Cover with tin foil and bake at follow your directions for baking on the noodle box… OR…
Back at 375 degrees covered for 45 minutes.
Back it down to 350 degrees for another 15 minutes or until the cheese on top is bubbly and browning.
Let it rest for about 20 minutes before cutting and eating