Dr. Larue’s Most Favorite Vegetarian Lasagna Ever
I would love to tell you that this is a quick mid-week meal, but it is not. However, there are few dishes more freezer-friendly than lasagna, and I love a good one. This lasagna is truly exceptional. Your carnivores will not miss the meat in the mushroom-laden lasagna, and it makes a huge pan with leftovers that freeze beautifully to serve at the next mid-week meal in a rush!
Most of the lasagnas I’ve made fall in the American-style “ricotta/tomato sauce/mozzarella/ground meat” style and I never took to them, finding them both heavy and yet, still dry. I found my lasagna nirvana in the béchamel-ed variety, which managed to be light and almost delicate. One does not traditionally think of a white sauce with a lightweight meal, especially over pasta, but paired with salad this was surprisingly refreshing meal without making me feel like I must switch to my fat pants. This lasagna is a vegetarian take on the classic, creamy lasagna Bolognese. The meat is replaced with earthy shitake mushrooms and the noodles are not boiled before baking, so they are less mushy when they come out of the oven.
- 12 Tb unsalted butter
- 15 sun-dried tomatoes
- 1 shallot chopped
- 1 carrot chopped
- ½C flour
- 5 C milk
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- Salt and pepper
- 3 Tb olive oil
- 2 lbs. fresh mushrooms, shiitake or mix shiitake & cremini, stemmed & quartered
- ½ lb. fresh spinach, chopped
- 7 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 Tb chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 2 Tb chopped fresh oregano
- 1 Tb chopped fresh thyme
- 1 Tb chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 Tb tomato paste
- 5 C whole canned tomatoes, crushed
- 1 lb. lasagna noodles – no boil brand such as Barilla
- 2½ C grated grana padano (substitute would be Parmigiano-Reggiano)
- 2½ C grated fontina
Grease a 9” x 13” baking pan with 1 Tb butter. Cover dried tomatoes with 1 C boiling water and soak for 20 minutes. Drain tomatoes, chop and set aside.
Make the béchamel sauce by heating 8 Tb butter in a 4 qt saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and carrots; cook 5 minutes. Add flour, mix thoroughly and cook 2 minutes. Whisk in milk; bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium-low to simmer, whisking, until thick, about 20-25 minutes. Add nutmeg and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil and remaining 3 Tb butter in a 6 qt pot over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms; cook 10 minutes. Add softened, dried tomatoes, chopped spinach, garlic, parsley, oregano, thyme, rosemary and tomato paste. Cook all for 3 minutes. Add canned tomatoes and cook an additional 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set sauce aside.
|Chopped Cremini mushrooms|
|Mushrooms with the greenery|
|Add the tomatoes|
Heat oven to 375-degree F. Spread 2 C tomato sauce in baking dish. Cover with a layer of noodles – just touching but not overlapping. Spread 1 C béchamel over top; sprinkle with ½ C of each cheese and 2 C tomato sauce. Repeat layering 2-3 more times. Top with remaining noodles, tomato sauce, béchamel, and cheeses. Bake covered with foil on a baking sheet for one hour. Remove foil; raise oven to 475-degree F. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes more.
|With the cheese and ready for the oven|
|OK, a little messy....but so gooooood!|
Let the lasagna rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving. It should cool completely before tightly wrapping and freezing for a future wonderful comforting meal. One could add additional vegetables: other greens, such as kale, or thinly sliced zucchini, which had been previously salted for 15 minutes to draw out the excess water.
I know this can be time consuming but it is so worth the effort. You will not be disappointed. This lasagna pairs well with multiple wines. As with all pastas you should pair the wine to the sauce – in this case a béchamel and mushroom filing. I would serve with Cabernet Sauvignon, Chianti – of course, Zinfandel, or a Merlot. Serve with a lightly dressed mixed green salad. Sublime!!