Monday, April 30, 2007

Lasagna : Two ways

We had lasagna twice last week. First was a simple roll up version, recipe of Rachael Ray and the second one- Asparagus Lasagna, was devoured on our weekly vegetarian night.

Wanting the comfort of a lasagna but not the work of putting one together, I was delighted to find a short cut from Rachael Ray's website. Instead of the usual layering method, the filling was simply placed on top of individual lasagna noodle and rolled up before putting in a baking dish. The individual lasagna rolls were then baked with a simple pasta sauce and mozzarella cheese for less than 10 minutes. OCT thought it was a pretty good, all in one meal. He has the leftover all by himself (as usual).

The second lasagna was a vegetarian version, featuring my favorite Spring asparagus. It was a perfect vegetarian meal; satisfying without feeling guilty. Instead of Bechamel sauce, this recipe used a pesto white sauce. The end result was significantly lighter than its cream/milk counterpart but tasted much nicer. Maybe because I never really like milk anyway.

Actually, I was thinking of making a seafood lasagna when I first bought the lasagna noodle. Who knows I would end up with two totally random recipes than the one I have first set eyes on. Typing this out made me feel a bit guilty, I think I will try to make the seafood lasagna before it goes totally covered by other recipes on my to try list.

Here's the original recipe, but I added in some chopped Kielbasa, and used pasta sauce insteads of Gorgonzola cream sauce, to cut down on time and fat.

Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna Roll-ups with Gorgonzola Cream Sauce
adapted from Rachael Ray

16 cremini caps, cleaned with a damp towel and finely chopped in food processor
1 small yellow-skinned onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons (2 turns around the pan) extra-virgin olive oil
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
Salt and pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg or the equivalent of freshly grated
2 cups part skim ricotta
8 curly edge lasagna noodles, cooked to al dente (12 to 14 minutes)
1 cup fat free chicken broth
8 ounces Gorgonzola, crumbled
1/2 cup (3 turns around the pan) heavy cream
1 to 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella

In a medium skillet over moderate heat, saute mushrooms, chopped onions, and garlic in oil until mushrooms give off their juices and darken and onions are tender, about 7 or 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper; the salt will help draw water out of the vegetables as they cook.

Add dry chopped spinach to the pan and heat through for 1 minute. Adjust seasonings with salt, pepper, and a little nutmeg. Add ricotta and stir into mixture to heat cheese through, 1 minute longer. Remove pan from heat but leave in the warm skillet.

Heat broth in a small pan over moderate heat. Melt Gorgonzola into broth and bring liquid to a bubble. Stir in cream and thicken sauce 2 minutes.

Place cooked lasagna noodles on a large work surface or cutting board. Spread lasagna noodles with a layer of spinach-mushroom filling. Roll up pasta and arrange the 8 bundles in a shallow casserole dish. Pour warm sauce over roll-ups and top with mozzarella. Place casserole under broiler to melt cheese.

Asparagus Pesto Lasagna
adapted from Vegetarian Times ( I halved the recipe, and used a 9x9-inch baking dish)
serves 10

1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 1/2 cups low-fat milk, divided
6 Tbs. pesto*, or more to taste
2 Tbs. grated Parmesan cheese, plus additional for garnish, optional
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
2 tsp. olive oil
1 1/4 lb. asparagus spears, tips cut off and reserved, spears trimmed and chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
1 clove garlic, minced (about 1 tsp.)
16 no-cook lasagna noodles (9 oz.)
2 cups shredded Fontina or part-skim mozzarella cheese (8 oz.), divided

Preheat oven to 350F. Whisk flour and 1/2 cup milk in saucepan until smooth. Gradually whisk in remaining milk. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly, and boil 1 minute, or until thickened. Remove from heat; stir in pesto, Parmesan, salt and pepper. Reserve 1 cup white sauce.

Warm oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chopped asparagus (not tips) and cook, stirring often, 5 minutes, or until tender. Add garlic; cook, stirring, 1 minute, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.

Coat 13x9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Place layer of noodles in dish, overlapping slightly. Layer with half of cooked asparagus, 3/4 cup Fontina and half of sauce. Add another layer of pasta, remaining sauce, remaining cooked asparagus and 3/4 cup Fontina. Top with layer of noodles, then with reserved 1 cup white sauce. Arrange reserved asparagus tips over top and sprinkle with remaining Fontina.

Bake, uncovered, 35 to 40 minutes, or until golden. Let stand 10 minutes; serve with additional grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.

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