LASAGNA. It’s such a great word. la-ZAH-nya. Especially when you say it with GUSTO. LASAGNA! And hey, it also tastes pretty awesome.
This lasagna is great for a few reasons. 1. It freezes spectacularly and can be made ahead of time. 2. It has a white sauce, which is a little unusual and makes it INTERESTING. 3. It’s a great way to use up holiday leftovers! Although this recipe is written as a vegetarian version, I often add a few handfuls of leftover chicken or turkey to the sauce.
Plus, there are times after a long, hard week or two that you just really want some comfort food. And lasagna is oh-so-comforting.
So, over the holidays, make a few of these to have on hand. They’ll cut down on time in the kitchen and give you more time to spend with friends, family, and Christmas Movie Marathons. (Personal faves? The Muppet Christmas Carol and a Charlie Brown Christmas, although my brother’s favorite is Scrooged and the parents fight over superiority between White Christmas and It’s a Wonderful Life. Although we all agree that Elf and Jim Carrey as the Grinch are pretty stellar, too.)
- 3/4 lb. lasagna noodles
- 3 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1/2 of a large yellow onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 lb. mushrooms, sliced (I use white button or baby portobellos when I can find them)
- 3 Tbsp. flour
- 2 and 2/3 cups turkey, chicken, or vegetable stock
- 3/4 cup milk (I use skim)
- 3 cups spinach
- 2 cups cooked chicken or turkey, chopped into cubes (optional)
- 3 and 1/2 cups parmesan cheese, shredded
- Cook noodles according to package or recipe directions until they are 5 minutes less than al dente. The noodles should have a noticeably uncooked/crunchy center, because they will cook more in the oven. No one likes soggy noodles!
- In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, salt and pepper and saute for 1 minute.
- Add sliced mushrooms and cook until onion is translucent and mushrooms have cooked down, about 4 minutes more.
- Add flour to saucepan. The flour will absorb the liquid in the pan and should pull the onions, garlic, and mushrooms into a paste-like lump. That’s good – it’s forming what’s called a roux, which is a flour and butter or oil paste that will be whisked into a liquid to thicken the sauce. Cook the roux for 1 minute.
- Add 1/4 cup of the stock and stir vigorously to break up the chunks of roux in the pan. The stock will thicken noticeably. As soon as the chunks are gone, add the rest of the stock and stir to incorporate all ingredients.
- Stir milk into sauce and bring to a simmer. Simmer sauce for 10-15 minutes, until sauce has thickened.
- Add spinach to sauce and cook until spinach has wilted and cooked, about 5 minutes. If you’re using chicken or turkey, add that in at this time as well.
- Remove sauce from heat and add 1 and 1/2 cups of the parmesan cheese to the sauce. Stir until the cheese has melted. Reserve the additional 2 cups of parmesan for lasagna assembly.
- Assemble the lasagna! Spread a thin layer of the sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish (you could also make several smaller lasagnas, which is what I usually do since there are just two of us) to prevent sticking. Lay lasagna noodles down, then a layer of sauce, then a layer of parmesan, then repeat until the pan is full and/or you run out of noodles or sauce. Make sure to end the layering with a layer of sauce topped with parmesan – it will cook up nice and melty cheesy and mmmmdelicious.
- When lasagna is assembled, you can either refrigerate or freeze it, or you can bake it immediately. Whenever you’re ready to bake, do so at 375 for 30-35 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.