A Lasagna Compromise
Lasagna seems like the perfect place to get more vegetables into your diet. In fact, I love a vegetarian version with layers of spinach and ricotta throughout. But my husband seems to have an aversion to most vegetables and prefers his pasta dishes with meat and cheese only, so I came up with this version of lasagna as a compromise. It does have meat, but I also snuck in some nicely caramelized mushrooms, sauteed onions, and beet greens. I’m hoping that the layers of rich cheese entice him enough that he doesn’t object!The secret to that rich and creamy layer is in using whole milk ricotta (and also whole milk mozzarella) instead of part skim.I did layer in some cooked ground beef (along with a tiny bit of cooked Italian sausage that was looking for a home) and topped the meat layers with some sliced fresh mozzarella cheese.But I added a layer with these nicely caramelized crimini mushrooms……and topped that layer with that heavenly ricotta cheese.I did one more meat layer, then the final layer was sauteed onions and beet greens that I also topped with ricotta.After adding the top layer of noodles (uncooked I might add – I never waste the time to cook my lasagna noodles first), I spread that with some marinara sauce, added more sliced mozzarella cheese and a good heavy sprinkling of grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.Does this not look fantastic? Although my husband was happy with his meat layers, the caramelized mushrooms and other veggies really added outstanding flavor and texture to the dish. Finally, a compromise on lasagna that I think we are both happy with!
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 8 ounces crimini mushrooms, sliced
- ½ medium onion, sliced
- 2 cups chopped beet greens or fresh spinach
- Lasagna noodles (enough for 5 layers in a 9 x 13 casserole dish), uncooked
- 1 pound ground beef or bison, browned
- 4 cups marinara sauce
- 1 pound fresh whole milk mozzarella cheese, sliced
- 8 ounces whole milk ricotta
- ½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in each of two skillets. Add mushrooms to one and cook over medium heat until nicely caramelized, about 15 minutes. Add onions to the other skillet and cook until slightly softened, then add beet greens just until wilted slightly. Set vegetables aside.
- Spray a 9 x 13 casserole dish with cooking spray and cover the bottom with a layer of noodles. Combine 3 cups marinara sauce with the browned meat and spread half of it over the noodles. Top with ⅓ of the mozzarella cheese. Layer noodles on top of the meat and cheese, then spread mushrooms on top of that; top with ½ of the ricotta cheese. Layer noodles on top, pressing down slightly to tighten the layers, and spread remaining meat sauce on top. Top with ⅓ of the mozzarella cheese and another layer of noodles. Spread onions and greens over this layer, then top with remaining ricotta cheese. Top with one more layer of noodles and cover with remaining marinara sauce. Top with remaining mozzarella cheese and then sprinkle with Parmigiano.
- Cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees for one hour. Let stand a few minutes before cutting and serving. To save leftovers, wrap individual portions in plastic wrap and freeze.
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