There was a familiar argument in my house on weekends, well, there were plenty of arguments but for now lets just talk about this one. My mom would tell my dad to get groceries and he would head out with a cloth bag to the biggest market in Pune. Like all men, he is pretty clueless about what goes on in the kitchen and would end up buying half the market if not more. He would come home with bags bulging with shiny purple eggplants, long string beans, bunches of corainder, fenugreek, spinach, red and green chilies among other stuff. He would stand around with a proud smile on his face while my long suffering mom berated him. His only explanation? 'Everything was so fresh and green!I couldn't resist.'
Then I would be roped in to separate the chilies from the string beans and try to store them in our tiny fridge. It was a familiar Saturday morning scene at home and memories of it provide much amusement to our family. Anyway, I'm nothing if not my Dad's girl and managing my own home bring out all those eccentricities in full force. Every time I'm allowed near a farmer's market or a nice grocery store, I need to be reigned in or I end up with a fridge full of mushroom and spinach like I did the other day. Hence the post. And you were wondering if this rambling had a point??
So I had more mushroom than I could count and more baby spinach than I would want to.
I used up some mushrooms in a soup, ate salad for 3 days and I was nowhere close to making a dint in the reserves. Then I thought about making something that I could freeze for an easy meal on weekdays. I like making batches of pasta and freezing it in single serve containers so I can get a quick lunch or just something to eat in between meals. Since I had a ton of lasagna sheets waiting to be used up I made mushroom and spinach lasagna. I made Heidi's Five Minute tomato sauce, a cheesy white sauce and mushroom-spinach filling and the whole thing didn't take more than 20 mins.
I really wanted to try Chez Pim's sauce. It looks gorgeous and seems like the perfect way to end summer. But I didn't have the heart to put something so fresh, so delicate in something baked.
2 cups mushrooms, sliced
3 cups spinach leaves
3-4 garlic pods, minced
1/2 tsp butter
1tsp dried Italian herbs
2 tablespoon milk
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp nutmeg
Ingredient list for Heidi's Tomato Sauce
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
3 medium cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 28-ounce can crushed red tomatoes
zest of one lemon
Pour a glug of olive oil in a pan and add the minced garlic pods and heat slowly. Don't let the garlic burn. Then add the sliced mushrooms, I used cremini, and let it brown for a while. Then add the spinach and let that cook down. Add some salt and pepper and the dried herbs and take it off the fire. Oh, I did add some shredded carrots to bump up the nutritional content but that's entirely optional. Well, so is this recipe for that matter :)
In another pan melt the butter, add the milk and heat it for a while. Then mix in the ricotta cheese and sprinkle the nutmeg. Take it off the heat and whisk in the beaten egg. Take care not to scramble your egg. Add some salt and pepper and let it cool a little.
Cook your lasagna noodles till al dente and drain.
Start layering your lasagna by putting a ladle of tomato sauce at the bottom of the pan. Then add the noodles in a single layer. Top it with more tomato sauce, mushroom-spinach mixture and white sauce. Sprinkle mozzarella over the entire thing before moving on the next layer. Keep layering till you finish the noodles, sauces and the stuffing. I was so generous with my stuffing that I could complete only 2 layers. Finish with more tomato sauce and cheese. Add some Parmesan if you have it and bake until the cheese is brown and bubbly.
If you want nice, clean pieces take the pan out of the oven and let it rest for 5-10 mins in a warm place before cutting into it. I could not take any pictures after it was done because I ate most and froze the rest. Hence a pic from the preparation process.