Spinach Lasagna with Mushroom Ragu
I think pregnancy comes with a small dose of insanity. My poor husband can vouch for that. I think my level of insanity is relatively low, though. Never once have I sent him out at 2 AM because I woke up craving In-N-Out. He’s lucky.
I’ve been craving lasagna for a few weeks, but because lasagna is somewhat time-consuming, I had a hard time fitting it into my schedule. I knew which one I wanted to make, too — the Spinach Lasagna with Mushroom Ragu I saw in the November issue of Food Network Mag.
When I found some extra time, a sudden urge to use my pasta rollers came with it. (See? Insanity.) This definitely isn’t something that you’d do on a weeknight. Although if you made the sauce ahead of time it would shave off a couple of hours. I bet it freezes well, too.
I have a few things to say about this project:
1. According to the recipe, I should have spent about $35 in mushrooms alone. Seriously, now. I skipped the dried porcini’s, substituted regular brown mushrooms for the shiitakes and bought 2 really big portobello caps. The damage? About $10. And the sauce was fantastic.
2. The sauce was somewhat watery, even without the extra porcini water. I let it reduce for an extra half hour and then buzzed it up with my immersion blender. Partly to thicken it. Partly so my kids wouldn’t pick out the mushrooms. I added an extra tablespoon of tomato paste and removed a cup of water from the recipe for next time.
3. Yes, I made my own extra-thin spelt lasagna noodles using this recipe. The dough was easy to work with, and I loved how they turned out.
4. I love cheese, but good grief, there was a lot in this recipe. I cut out a whole pound of mozzarella as well as a pound of the ricotta. I bumped up the amount of spinach, too. Don’t worry, there’s still a lot of cheese in it.
5. Speaking of a lot… I’m glad I had this deep 9×13 pan. I really don’t think it would have fit in my 9×13 Pyrex. If you run into trouble, try splitting it into two pans and freezing one!
The verdict? Perhaps the best lasagna I’ve ever had. Certainly the most time-consuming, so it better be the best, right? That mushroom sauce is so hearty and flavorful we didn’t even miss the meat.
Plus it’ll feed us three times. That’s worth the work right there.
Here are some other lasagna recipes on the site. All of which have been fantastic as well!
Spinach Lasagna with Mushroom Ragu
Yield: 8-10 servings
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 4 hours
For the ragu:
2 T heat-safe oil, like grapeseed or coconut
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 T tomato paste
2 portobello mushroom caps, chopped
1 1/2 pounds brown mushrooms (or your choice), chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 28-ounce cans of whole or diced tomatoes
3 bay leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
For the lasagna:
3 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated
8 ounces part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
8 ounces asiago cheese, shredded
16 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 10-ounce packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
12 ounces dried lasagna noodles
Make the ragu:
Heat the oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot and celery and cook until soft, 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and tomato paste and cook, stirring, 2 more minutes. Add the portobello and brown mushrooms, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; cook, stirring, until the mushrooms are soft, 5 more minutes.
Add the tomatoes and their juices. If you're using whole tomatoes, crush them with your hands as you put them in the pot. Add 1 cup of water and the bay leaves; bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to medium low, add 1/2 teaspoon salt and simmer, stirring a few times, until thick, about 90 minutes. Discard the bay leaves and taste, adding more salt, if needed. TIP: You can make the ragu up to 1 day ahead; let cool, then cover and chill. Reheat before using.
Make the lasagna filling:
Mix the parmesan, mozzarella and asiago; set 1 1/2 cups of the cheese mixture aside. Combine the remaining cheese mixture in a large bowl with the ricotta, eggs, spinach, nutmeg and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook as the label directs. Drain and rinse under cold water; shake off the excess water.
Spread 1 cup of the ragu in a deep 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Add a layer of noodles, then half of the spinach mixture and 2 cups ragu. Repeat with another layer of noodles, spinach mixture and ragu. Top with the remaining noodles and ragu and sprinkle with the reserved cheese. Cover with foil, place on a baking sheet and bake 50 minutes. Uncover and bake until golden, about 25 more minutes. Let rest at least 10 minutes before serving.
adapted from Food Network Magazine, November 2011