Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Spinach Lasagna

So, again, this recipe comes from reading a variety of recipes and then compromising on my own version given time and ingredients in my possession.

preheat oven to 350 degrees

Prepare yourself with the following bowls of ingredients.

Bowl A: 1 can or bottle of marinara sauce (I used a mushroom base) ;

Bowl B: mix together
1 package of frozen spinach cooked.
1 14-16 ounce tub of ricotta cheese
1 14-16 ounce tub of fat free cottage cheese
2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese

Bowl C: 15 cooked lasagna noodles

Bowl D: 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese mixed with 1 tbsp of italian spices (I have a grinder called that - if not, basil, oregano, garlic powder,thyme, some pepper, etc). Put this bowl in the fridge until much later.

Using Bowl A, B, & C, begin the assembly process.
In a regular lasagna/baking dish, I sprayed non-stick cooking oil first. Then a spoonful of marinara sauce. then 3 lasagna noodles.
Then I put in about half of the spinach mixture over the noodles, spread out evenly
then 3 lasagna noodles
Then several spoonfuls of marinara sauce evenly spread out
then 3 lasagna noodles
then the other half of the spinach mixture, spread out evenly.
then 3 lasagna noodles.
then the rest of the marinara sauce
then 3 lasagna noodles.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes. Then remove aluminum foil and top with 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella with 1 tbsp of italian spices. Bake (uncovered) for 10 minutes.

Few things to consider.
Why cottage cheese?
Well, to be honest it was because I didn't buy enough ricotta. But, on the plus size, it lightened the flavor a little - and the calorie count. I think I could probably cut the ricotta in half and not notice the difference with this substitution.

What if I want it with meat?
If you wanted to make this meaty, cook some ground beef with marinara sauce. I think the multitude of layers in this pasta would make that combination very nice.

What if I don't have spinach?
I would substitute in any other complementary vegetable - grilled onions, or lightly cooked mushrooms could work nicely. There is a lot of room for variation with the vegetables! It seemed important that the vegetables be cooked, however, before the lasagna construction, to prevent weird texture issues. Next time I'm going to try layering some grilled eggplant in there, as well.

What if I want to make it vegan?
Well, there are some vegan cottage cheeses. I think replace all of the ricotta with that; replace all of the cheese with soy alternative. For nutrient and texture value, it may also be best to blend in some soft tofu with the spinach/"cheese" mixture. Someone let me know how that works out if you do it!

What else can I serve with lasagna?
This recipe produces a hearty meal. We ate it with a green salad and a french baguette - plus some dessert!

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