Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Spinach Mushroom Lasagna...did I mention it's healthier?

Sometimes it's the small personal accomplishments that keep us going...

...Like finally not burning caramel...

...Hitting the 20 mile long run mark even if it means aching knees later in the day...

...Using a real camera (not my iPhone) to take pictures and act like an actual food blogger...

...Making a lasagna for the first, and a healthier one at that...

...Having people you have never met before enjoy your baking...

...even being given the opportunity to bake cupcakes for someone else's party...

Down to the lasagna...I am not going to lie here folks, this is a time consuming recipe.  Granted this is the first lasagna I have ever made.  BUT it won't take you as much time, because you won't be trying to take pictures while making it.  I spent a couple of hours Sunday morning playing with a nice fancy camera and making this lasagna.  You see it is my lunch for the week, and totally worth the time and effort.  It is a guilt free lasagna loaded with delicious mushrooms and spinach.  Seriously though, how often do you get to eat lasagna and not feel guilty about it?  I ran the numbers!  If you get 6 servings out of it, its about 293 calories a serving!  Plus, it reheats wonderfully in both the toaster oven and the microwave.  So, if you want to try your hand at lasagna or share my love of mushrooms, give this one a try and Enjoy!

Dried mushrooms ready for the hot water bath, so they become...

Plump and ready for this lasagna.

Just a little onion and garlic.

A little chopping action needed.

Saute the onions, then the garlic.

Time for these to cook down.

A teaspoon of thyme.

Béchamel prep...

Bottom layer of mushrooms and spinach, then top with noodles and cheese.

Ready to go into the oven.

Spinach Mushroom Lasagna: (recipe adapted from The New York Times)
For the mushrooms:
1 ounce (about 1 cup)  dried forest blend or porcini mushrooms
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 shallots or 1 small onion, finely chopped
2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup fruity red wine, such as a Côtes du Rhône or Syrah
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Freshly ground pepper

For the béchamel:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons minced shallot or onion
2 tablespoons sifted all-purpose flour
2 cups skim milk
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 cupa frozen spinach, defrosted and drained of excess liquid

For the lasagna:
1/2 pound no-boil lasagna noodles
4 ounces part skim Parmesan cheese, grated (1 cup)
A few leaves of fresh sage (optional)

1. Place the dried mushrooms in a glass measuring cup and pour 2 cups boiling water over them. Let soak 30 minutes, while you prepare the other ingredients (chop the onions and garlic).  

2.  After soaking the mushrooms, place a strainer over a bowl, lined with cheesecloth or paper towels, and drain the mushrooms; squeezing the mushrooms over the strainer to extract all the flavorful juices.  Then set aside; you will need all of this liquid later.

3.  Away from the bowl, rinse the mushrooms with the soaking liquid, until they are free of sand.  Squeeze dry and then coarsely chop them.  

4. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat and add the shallots or onion.  Cook, stirring often, until tender, 3 to 5 minutes.  Add the garlic, stir together for about 30 seconds, then add the fresh and reconstituted mushrooms and salt to taste. Cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms begin to soften and to sweat, about 5 minutes. 

5.  After about 5 minutes, add the wine and turn the heat to high.  Cook, stirring, until the liquid boils down and glazes the mushrooms, 5 to 10 minutes. 

6.  Then stir in the thyme and mushroom soaking liquid.  Bring to a simmer, add salt, and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until the mushrooms are thoroughly tender and fragrant and the surrounding broth has reduced by a little more than half, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in some freshly ground pepper, taste and adjust salt.  Once this has reduced stir in the spinach.

(If you have a 4 burner stove fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil while making the béchamel.)

7.  Meanwhile, make the béchamel.  Heat the 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil over medium heat in a heavy saucepan.  Add the minced shallot or onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes, until smooth and bubbling, but not browned. It should have the texture of wet sand. 

8.  Then whisk in 2 cups of milk all at once and bring to a simmer, whisking all the while, until the mixture begins to thicken. Turn the heat to very low and simmer, stirring often with a whisk and scraping the bottom and edges of the pan with a rubber spatula, for 10 to 15 minutes, until the sauce is thick and has lost its raw-flour taste.  Season with salt and pepper. Once the béchamel has come together, pour it into the pan with the mushrooms.

9.  Assemble the lasagna. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Oil or butter a 2-quart rectangular baking dish or a large dutch oven. Once your large pot of water is boiling, salt generously and add 3 or 4 lasagna noodles, just the number you need for one layer. Cook only until flexible, and using tongs or a skimmer, remove from the pan and set on a kitchen towel to drain. 

10.  Spoon a thin layer of béchamel and mushrooms over the bottom of the dish. Top with a layer of noodles.  Spread a ladleful of the mushroom/béchamel mixture over the noodles and top with a layer of Parmesan.  Cook the next layer of noodles and continue to repeat the layers, ending with a layer of the mushroom/béchamel mixture topped with Parmesan.  Cover with foil or lid of dutch oven and place in the oven. Bake 30 minutes. Remove the foil, and if you want the edges of the noodles crispy and the top lightly browned, continue to bake uncovered for another 5 to 10 minutes. Serve hot or warm.

Advance preparation: The mushrooms can be cooked up to 4 days before the lasagna is assembled and baked.  The béchamel can be made a day ahead.  Whisk well and reheat gently before straining into the mushrooms and assembling the lasagna.  The assembled lasagna can be tightly covered and refrigerated for a day before baking.  Leftovers will keep for 3 or 4 days.  Reheat in a low oven or in a microwave.

Here are the health facts per serving: (getting 12 servings out of the cake)
293 calories per serving
Total Fat 12.8g
    Saturated Fat 4.4g
    Trans fat 0g
Cholesterol 28mg
Total Carbohydrates 25.6g
    Dietary Fiber 2.6g
    Sugar 7.2g
Protein 15.3g
Of Daily...
Vitamin A 20%
Vitamin C 7%
Calcium 38%
Iron 12%

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