This is not your average lasagna.
For one thing, it’s Zach’s recipe. And since my husband is… how do I say this… “still learning” how to cook, I can confidently tell you right off the bat that this is an extremely easy recipe. He made it for me on my birthday two years ago, and it has become a staple of his (along with his famous scrambled eggs- I still can’t make mine as well as he can!) ever since.
For another thing, it’s a meat-eater friendly vegetarian meal. The mushrooms make it super hearty. This will satisfy even your most meat-loving meat eater. We made it for Zach’s family last April, including our carnivorous brother-in-law. Knowing he didn’t exactly enjoy meals centered around vegetables, we went back and forth about whether we should cook something else, but decided to roll the dice and make it anyway. Turns out, he loved it, and had seconds! We sure tricked him into eating his veggies!
In addition, it uses cottage cheese instead of ricotta, a trick Zach got from his mother. It makes it taste just a bit lighter and creates a great texture that blends together oh-so-deliciously. I love ricotta cheese, but I have to say I definitely prefer lasagna made with cottage cheese now that I have tried it!
Finally, this is one of our staple make-ahead meals. We make two (or even three) of these bad boys at a time in our Pyrex 11-cup dishes. Do you own any of these? This has to be one of my favorite kitchen items. We have three. PLEASE do yourself a favor and buy some! They go from the fridge or freezer right to the oven, and come with an airtight lid which enables you to store before baking or after if you have leftovers. We have some smaller ones as well in which we will sometimes cook a mini version of whatever we are making (for instance, when we made enchiladas this week), take it to work the next day, microwave it in the same dish, and eat it for lunch. You could theoretically bake 5 mini lasagnas at a time and have a hot, healthy lunch for every day of the week, provided you have access to a microwave.
And after all that thinking out loud, I believe that is exactly what I will do next time I make this!
The one problem we have had with this dish: excessive liquid. Because raw veggies give off a lot of water in the oven, this lasagna can have a tendency to get a little watery. I’ve tried roasting and sauteing the mushrooms beforehand, but that was honestly just too much work for an otherwise easy-to-prep meal. So, I’ve come up with a few other tricks to avoid liquidy lasagna:
- Don’t cook your noodles all the way. Boil them for only about 5 minutes, until they soften but are definitely still a bit hard. They will absorb some of the liquid as the lasagna cooks. (We use Bionaturae Lasagna Whole Wheat Pasta)
- Use homemade marinara sauce. And when you cook it, leave the lid ajar so the sauce thickens up a bit. Thicker sauce will mean less liquid. I make my sauce in bulk and freeze it in mason jars for when I need it for a recipe.
- Squeeze as much liquid from the spinach as possible. I run hot water over frozen chopped spinach in a mesh strainer to thaw it, and use the back of a wooden spoon to squeeze as much water out as possible. Put some muscle into it!
- Let it cool off for 5-10 minutes. If you cut it too soon, it won’t have settled. Let it settle (as difficult as it may be) before cutting.
The recipe below is for two small lasagnas, as Zach and I usually make them to prepare for two meals in advance. It can be made in one large casserole dish as well; like all lasagna recipes, the portions are very forgiving. You really can’t mess this one up! I may try this in the near future with broccoli finely chopped as a substitute for the spinach. I’ll let you know how it turns out :-)
|Spinach and Mushroom Vegetarian Lasagna|| |
- Preheat oven to 375.
- In a medium-sized bowl, mix together carrots and sauce.
- Thaw the spinach by running hot water over it in a mesh strainer. Squeeze as much water as you can out with the back of a wooden spoon.
- In a medium-sized bowl, mix together eggs, cottage cheese, spinach, salt, and pepper.
- Cook lasagna noodles for approximately 5 minutes- do not cook all the way (so they absorb some of the liquid of the vegetables)
- In two small casserole dishes or one large one, spread a little sauce to cover the bottom of the dish.
- Create a layers of: noodles, sauce mixture, cheese mixture, mushrooms, mozzarella cheese, and parmesan cheese. Repeat layers one more time.
- Bake at 375 for 20 minutes covered loosely with foil. Remove foil and bake for another 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly.
- Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before cutting and serving.