Posted by: zhak39 | December 27, 2009

Spinach and Mushroom in Layered Pasta

There are a variety of stuffed, layered and baked pasta dishes, the most familiar is lasagne with a thick tomato sauce, sausage and beef.  The technique of layering pasta with different fillings lends itself to other lighter and really delicious dishes.  For Christmas Day I made a traditional lasagne for the omnivores and a lovely companion dish for the vegetarians.

A key to this dish is to use homemade vegetable stock which is really simple to make.  Commercial vegetable stocks are too heavy and mask the delicate flavorings in the cheeses.  You can make this ahead of time and keep it in the refrigerator for several days.

  1. fennel bulb
  2. onion in skin, halved
  3. carrot, unpeeled, snapped in half
  4. couple garlic cloves
  5. 3 cloves
  6. 6 pepper corns
  7. celery leaves
  8. 2 quarts water

Simmer all for 40 minutes in a pot with a tight lid.  Drain and store.

For the sauce

  1. bunch spinach cleaned, steamed, drained, squeezed dry and chopped (set aside)
  2. onion or 3 shallots sliced thin
  3. 1/2 lb mushrooms sliced thin
  4. 2 cloves minced garlic
  5. olive oil and butter
  6. 1 T flour
  7. 2 cups (or so) vegetable stock
  8. splash of milk or cream
  9. 2-3 T shredded hard/ish cheese (parm, gouda, smoked provolone or the like)
  10. fresh ground pepper

Saute onions, mushrooms and garlic in heated butter and olive oil.  Sprinkle over with flour and stir well to coat.  Carefully pour over stock while stirring until thickened.  Pour in a couple tablespoons milk or cream and continue stirring.  Don’t let this boil; heat just to the point of a simmer.  (If it gets too hot the sauce will separate and get gloppy–yuch).  Add cheese and stir with a whisk until melted.  The cheese will need to be gently but firmly persuaded to incorporate in the sauce, gouda and provolone are particularly snobbish.  Stir in spinach and pepper and set aside.

For the cheese filling

  1. ricotta cheese
  2. egg
  3. nutmeg
  4. pinch salt
  5. fresh chopped parsley (not a lot)
  6. grated lemon zest
  7. grated orange zest
  8. optional–slivered almonds or pine nuts

Mix it all together

  1. lasagne sheets

Parboiled–cooked about half way, drained and not rinsed.

(Not rinsed?  Don’t ever rinse pasta!  It washes away the starch which prevents the sauce from adhering.)

Coat the bottom of the casserole with a thin layer of sauce.  Place a layer of pasta.  Coat that layer with a generous amount of sauce.  Spread a layer of cheese filling.  Coat with more sauce.  Repeat layer.  The top layer of of pasta gets a coating of sauce and

  1. shredded mozzarella cheese

cover with a generous layer of cheese.

Bake at 325 or 350 for about 30 to 40 minutes.  About half way through cover with foil or (better) if you have a glass top for the casserole dish.


  1. The zests add an interesting twist, I’ve got to try it. BTW, for those of use with less than a family to feed, lasagne freezes very well.

    I also never serve lasagne on the same day that I make it. I found that letting it sit for a day in the fridge helps to meld the flavors, and delivers a dish that is easier to slice and serve.

    Thanks for a food entry, it’s been too long. 🙂

  2. Lasagne is a really good make ahead of time for a party dish because it really is better the next day. Saurbraten (which I can make but can’t spell) is as well.

    I’ll try to catch up on the ‘food entries’; late in the year I spend more time cooking then writing….

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