You're a vegetarian, guests are coming over for dinner, and you know that at least one of those diners is an avid carnivore — the fuss and fidgeting begins as you start in on a meal plan. I think most longtime vegetarians have come...
You're a vegetarian, guests are coming over for dinner, and you know that at least one of those diners is an avid carnivore — the fuss and fidgeting begins as you start in on a meal plan. I think most longtime vegetarians have come across that nagging question posed by meat enthusiasts: just what do you eat anyway? Visions of bland salads and blocks of tofu dance uncomfortably in the minds of the skeptical. Of course, a cook wants everyone to come to the table excited and leave it satisfied.
Bring in this lush vegetable and mushroom lasagne. One of the earliest one-dish meals that I perfected shortly after becoming a vegetarian, the staunchest meat lovers surely wouldn't throw away their forks in frustration — unless of course, they detest succulent mushrooms in a rich and zesty fresh tomato sauce and generous slices of cheese tucked into delectable sheets of pasta noodles. It's been a classic to serve up for a long time and I've perfected the dish over the years to make it even more tempting with additional layers of flavors.
Light and creamy ricotta pairs well with the more robust and earthy textures and flavors present in this dish resulting in a sumptuous meal with a balanced elegance.
I can attest that everyone I have served this lasagne to has never left the table with a grimace on their face and usually second helpings are in demand. Happy diners and a happy cook.
And on the topic of pasta, I am pleased to host my dear friend Jacqueline's Pasta Please month event. Needless to say, it is a monthly celebration of pasta, with a different focus each time around because the possibilities for pasta creations are endless and infinitely comforting. Lasagne is the theme that I picked this month, and so the inspiration to share on my space this classic with my readers. I welcome the wonderful vegetarian lasagnes that you'd like to share too.
Vegetarian Mushroom and Spinach Lasagne
Recipe by Lisa Turner
Published on October 8, 2013
Classic, rich and sumptuous lasagne with creamy ricotta cheese, spinach and a zesty homemade tomato mushroom sauce
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5 to 6 sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 oz (14 g) dried wild mushrooms
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 small carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 clove garlic, minced or crushed
2 to 3 fresh chilies or jalapeños, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
2 cups white or cremini mushrooms, chopped
6 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
5 1/2 oz (160 mL) can tomato paste
1/3 cup fresh basil (2 teaspoons dried)
2 tablespoons fresh oregano (2 teaspoons dried)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme (1 teaspoon dried)
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
generous amount of fresh cracked black pepper
4 cups fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
9 to 10 sheets fresh or dry lasagne noodles
1 2/3 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten (optional)
9 oz (250 g) fontina or mozzarella cheese, sliced
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
Soak the sun-dried tomatoes and dried mushrooms in hot water for 20 to 30 minutes, then drain and chop.
To prepare the sauce, heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add the onion, carrot and celery and cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes or until the vegetables have softened. Toss in the garlic and chilies or jalapeños, and continue to stir for 2 minutes. Add the ground cumin and cayenne, stir a few times to coat the vegetables, and add the fresh and dried mushrooms to the pan. Cook, stirring often, for a few minutes.
Now add the fresh and sun-dried tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, oregano, thyme, salt and black pepper. Simmer the sauce, stirring occasionally, until thickened — about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, lightly grease a 9 × 13 inch glass baking dish. Set aside.
Begin preparing the lasagne by boiling the spinach in water for just a few minutes until wilte