Portobello Lasagna

That’s an intimidating box if you’re not really sure you know what you’re doing in the kitchen. I’ve done a handful of pasta sauces, but those mostly feel like I’m throwing things together. Lasagna is different. It’s something that must be assembled. It requires oven time. It has the impression of baking a cake.

But I was mostly wrong in that impression. It actually turned out to be quite simple.

The recipe, Portobello Mushroom and Feta Lasagna, came from Spectrum Culture [love their tag line: Where Snobbery and Trash Collide]:

Ingredients:

1 16 oz. Package Lasagna Noodles
1 24 oz. Jar of Marinara Sauce
1/2 pound Fresh Spinach, Chopped
15 oz. Ricotta Cheese
1 Cup Feta Crumbles
1 Large Egg
1 Cup Shredded Mozzarella
1 – 1-1/2 lbs Portobello Mushrooms, Sliced
Rosemary, Oregano, Thyme, Salt & Pepper to Taste
1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese

Recipe:

Pre-heat oven to 350ºF. Meanwhile, prepare noodles as directed. As a side note, I like to slightly undercook the noodles, as they will soften during the baking process. Next, sauté spinach in olive oil over medium heat. In large bowl, combine ricotta, feta, some (not all) of the mozzarella, egg, sautéed spinach and spices.

In 13″ x 19″ baking dish, layer noodles, cheese and spinach mixture, mushrooms, and sauce. Continue until dish is full (usually three complete layers). Top with remaining sauce, mozzarella, and a bit of shredded Parmesan cheese. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until cheese is nicely browned and bubbly.

With that as my base, what did I do? First, for marinara sauce I chose Rao. Rocky has been singing the praises for Rao sauces so I thought I’d try it (it is a tad more expensive so you are forewarned). Get two jars (more on this in a minute). Second, I used reduce fat Ricotta, Feta and Mozzarella but went with the real deal on the Parmesan (there is no substitute IMHO). Third, I bought three mushrooms which totaled in the 1 to 1-1/2 pound range. Finally, I measured out a 1/2 teaspoon of Oregano and 1/2 teaspoon of Thyme (I was out of Rosemary).

Mushroom slices should be somewhere between 1/8″ to 1/4″. If they are too thick, then they are difficult to cut with a fork when eating (words of experience).

If there is one place to screw up it would be with the spinach. Don’t over cook it. Toss one tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil in a pan, set the temperature to medium, wait for the pan to heat and then toss in the spinach. When it goes wilty, you’re done. It will not take long. For those who have never cooked spinach, it cooks away to nothing (not literally, but you wonder where it went).

For the cheese mixture, I tossed in two-thirds of the shredded Mozzarella, saving the rest for the topping.

The recipe specifies a 13″x19″ baking dish. That’s an area of 247 square inches. I don’t have a dish of those dimensions, but I do have two 8″x8″ dishes. That’s an area of 128 square inches. 128 is almost half of 247, correct? So I should have had more than enough ingredients to the point of overflow, correct? Wrong on both accounts.

My layers ended up as noodles, cheese, mushrooms, marinara, noodles, cheese, mushrooms, marinara, noodles, cheese, marinara and finally topping. Only two-thirds of the noodles were used (if that). It took the whole jar of Rao, plus a half-a-jar of another brand I luckily had on hand. There were 3-4 slices of mushroom remaining (but this could vary based on the thickness of the slices). There was no cheese remaining. None. Zero. There is no way this recipe would fill a 13″x19″ dish at three layers.

The takeaways here are 1- the recipe ingredients are specified for a dish of 128 square inches; 2- you should buy two jars of marinara.

Let me offer a helpful hint. Line the dish with a thin coat of extra-virgin olive oil. This prevents sticking and makes clean-up a breeze. Cooking time was 30 minutes.

I let mine cool for 5 minutes before plating, but a little longer would have been better (as shown by my somewhat runny slice).

Again, I was wrong about lasagna being intimidating. This turned out to be as simple as a spaghetti sauce and, oh my, was it good. I ate three quarters of one dish and if pushed, I could have eaten the last quarter.

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~ by Genevieve on 2010.04.18.

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