Monday, November 02, 2009

Late Night Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna

So I decided this afternoon that while I was already out having my tire repaired (an altercation between my tire and a nail had occurred and the nail had inevitably won...) that I would pick up a couple of items I needed to slap together a spinach and mushroom lasagna...  

I was inspired by a recipe that I saw in The Vegetarian Bible entitled Spinach Lasagna, and I knew that I could use the recipe as a rough guideline for a lasagna that would suit my taste.

I didn't use a 9x13 baking pan, rather, I used a wonderfully mushroom colored square baking dish by Emile Henry which I don't use enough and because I was using an unconventional sized baking dish, I refrained from measuring my ingredients and eye-balled what I needed to fit the dish. 

Regardless of the dish you use, here are the basics you will need for my version of Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna.

Fresh Garlic
Fresh Spinach
Grated Aged Cheddar Cheese
Grated Nutmeg
Dried Basil
All Purpose Flour
Parmesan Cheese
Flat Lasagna Sheets
Salt and Pepper to taste of course.

The preparation of this meal is really the most difficult part, if you can even call it difficult, it is more time consuming than anything.  Once the spinach is washed, the mushrooms are chopped, the cheese is grated and the onions are sizzling, this recipe pretty much takes care of itself!  

Start by preparing all the vegetables.  Wash and dry the spinach leaves and have them on standby, clean and dice the mushrooms, (and the more the merrier here since they cook down quite a bit, I ended up with at least two cups of diced mushrooms) dice one and a half onions, mince two to three garlic cloves, although I admittedly used four, grate a little over two cups of aged-white cheddar cheese, and at least one cup of parmesan cheese, and measure out a little over two cups of milk, half a cup of flour and a half cup of butter.  Once all these little steps are completed and you are somewhat organized, heat up a skillet and drizzle in a little olive oil.  Once the pan is hot, toss in the onions and garlic until they have become aromatic and translucent.  At this point, add the diced mushrooms and cook those down for about three minutes.  Once the mushrooms have melded nicely with the onions and garlic, add in the spinach, a 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg, a good handful of basil and the grated cheddar cheese.  Season the mixture with salt and pepper to suit your taste!  

Once your filling is completed, melt half a cup of  butter in a sauce pan.  Once the butter has become a thick, golden liquid, add an equal amount of all-purpose flour and whisk consistently for about one minute to thoroughly combine the flour and butter.  Add in the milk and continue whisking until the mixture has thickened and coats the back of a spoon in a velvety layer.  Remove the sauce-pan from the heat and add in 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the aged cheddar and a handful or two of the parmesan cheese.  It is also a good time to season the sauce with salt and pepper as well.  This is where we are developing yet another layer of flavor!

In a buttered baking dish (square or rectangular, your choice,)  spoon in half the spinach and mushroom mixture.  Using ready to bake lasagna noodles (I used spinach flavor) evenly cover the spinach mixture and pour half of the sauce over the noodles.  For an extra hit of flavor, grate on a healthy layer of parmesan cheese before adding another layer of lasagna noodles, the remaining spinach mixture, one more layer of noodles and the rest of the thick and delicious sauce. 

Pop the baking dish into a pre-heated 400 degree oven and back for at least 30 minutes or until the top is bubbling and golden.  At this point, take the lasagna out of the oven and let it sit for a few minutes to cool, which makes it easier to cut and of course eat.  

And presto!  A delicious, DELICIOUS completely vegetarian lasagna that will warm up any of the cold nights to come this fall!  This is really what fall is all about for me, comforting foods that use fresh ingredients to warm your heart and fill your belly.  All you need is a little time for preparation, some unconventional ingredients and the determination to produce a hearty and home cooked meal that will warm up the frosty nights of fall!


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