FOR THE VEGANS !! Portabella and Roasted Red Pepper Lasagna

OK my vegetarians, I have not forgotten you and never will. This Lasagna will certainly pass the test for you as well as all those meat eaters out there. But there is not an ounce of meat in this dish. My Portabella and Roasted Red Pepper Lasagna is absolutely wonderful (even if I say so myself). But don't take my word for it, try it at home and you will see!

This Lasagna is not made in the traditional method you may be accustomed to with a tomato base. Since you now know how to make a Bechamel Sauce, you will also learn how to make a Mornay Sauce by simply melting shredded swiss in the sauce. And Mornay is what we are using today instead of tomato sauce. Finally, I want to let you all know that with the exception of the use of butter, all the rest of the dairy products are either no fat, low fat, or skim. But don't worry, flavor has not been sacrificed. OK, here's what we need:

For the Sauce:

5 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 tablespoons flour
7 cups fat free half n half or 2 % milk (cold or room temp)
1 8oz package of baby fresh spinach
1 cup grated low fat swiss cheese
salt and pepper
dash of nutmeg

For the Ricotta mixture:

1 large tub of low fat Ricotta cheese
2 egg yokes
1/4 cup basil, chopped
1/2 cup fat free half n half

...and the rest of the ingredients:

2 packages of Barilla Flat Lasagna pasta (No boiling required, cooks in the oven)
2 1/2 lbs sliced baby Portabella mushrooms
2 8oz packages of low fat shredded Mozzarella
2 8oz packages of low fat shredded Swiss
1/2 cup chopped parsley
8 cloves chopped garlic
6 roasted red peppers sliced lengthwise (or 2 jars of ready roasted peppers)
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper

Now I know what you're thinking about now, that this is going to be quite a complicated task. Please understand this is very easy to make if you just remember to do your prep work first. Chop all the stuff that needs to be chopped and set all aside. Preheat your oven to 375. Have a 9 x 12 or 9 x 13 oven safe Lasagna tray ready. Make sure it's at least 2 inches deep and if you have one that's 3 inches deep that's even better.

The order of preparing each part of this Lasagna is to prepare your Ricotta mixture first, saute mushrooms second, and your sauce third. Fourth is simply assembling your Lasagna in your pan. OK, first add all the Ricotta ingredients together in a large bowl and mix well until everything is incorporated. Set aside.

In a large saute pan (the largest you have), heat 1/2 of the olive oil at medium heat. Add your mushrooms and saute for a couple of minutes. Then drizzle the rest of the olive oil on top and continue to saute until mushrooms begin to brown. Now add your garlic and parsley, stir and continue to saute for another couple of minutes. Never Never salt your mushroom while ccooking. Salt will draw out the moisture and you will get soggy mushrooms. You may pepper however. When mushrooms are nicely browned, remove them from the heat and set aside in a large bowl, salt, and stir.

Now you are ready to make your "Mornay" sauce. In a large sauce pan, melt all the butter at medium heat. Once melted, add the flour and stir until a nice blonde roux is made. Continue to cook at medium for a couple of minutes taking care not to brown the roux. Turn heat down if you need to. Then slowly add your milk about a cup at a time. Stir constantly so that the first part of the liquid nicely absorbs with the roux and makes a smooth thick semi paste. Continue to add the milk, stirring constantly. When all the milk is added, you should have a smooth silky sauce which will thicken as it reaches a slow boil. Reduce heat to medium low and continue to slow boil for about 5 more minutes. Now you can add your cheese and stir as you notice cheese melting. Sauce will be thickened. If you need to, add a bit more milk. Cook for a few more minutes and then start adding the spinach a handful at a time. Finally, add your salt and pepper and taste for flavor. Lower heat to warm.

You are now ready to assemble. We will be layering our ingredients together. Start by ladling some of your sauce at the bottom of your Lasagna pan to coat the entire bottom. This will keep the pasta from sticking and will also aid in cooking. Now add your first set of pasta sheets. Where you can, overlap the sheets about 1/4 inch. Next, take the Ricotta mixture and spread a nice even  coat about 1/4 inch thick over the pasta sheets.It doesn't have to be perfect! Then add a layer of the mushrooms and roasted peppers and cover that with a layer of the two cheeses (you can mix the cheeses ahead of time). Finally, ladle a layer of sauce so as to completely cover the grated cheese. You have just completed the first layer. Now start all over again... pasta, Ricotta, mushrooms and peppers, cheese, sauce. The top layer should be covered with grated cheese.

Tap the Lasagna pan on the counter a couple of times and bake in the oven for 1 hour, checking it at the 45 minute mark. At 1 hour, your Lasagna should be a golden color with some brown peaks. If you want, you can put the oven on broil for the final 3 minutes. When finished, remove from oven and let sit for about 15 minutes before serving. Bon appetit! You and your family will love this. A nice dinner salad of tossed romaine works wonderful following this dish. Serve with a chilled Rose wine or a Chardonnay. For non alcoholic, try a glass of chilled apple cider.

1 comment:

  1. This Lasagna is WONDERFUL! I have had the pleasure of dining with Nick when he made this and it is outstanding! I will be making this for guests very soon. It is a keeper. You must try it!