Ever since I was introduced to Italian food (when I was 10 yrs old), I am in love with this cuisine, simple, and satisfying. I know I haven't explored the non-vegetarian aspect of it, but I still love it. Be it cheese or the tomatoes or the conspicuous use of herbs, it is mouth watering.
Italians introduced some of the finest things to the culinary world, like best wines, cured meats , cold cuts, cheese and last but not the least, variety of pasta.
I have tried to make this dish a little different than what it is normally made with.
Most of the time we eat lasagna that is made with veggies, ( if it is vegetarian) ricotta cheese, tomato sauce and herbs. And otherwise with meat (non-vegetarian) cheese and sauce.
I have tried to make this lasagna with different ingredients, not only the veggies, but also the cheese and sauce.
I have made this lasagna with cottage cheese instead of ricotta and I have used white (Bechamel sauce) instead of the regular tomato sauce.
In northern Italy, many lasagna recipes often use a creamy white sauce rather than the tomato sauce, so I thought of giving it a try.
You will need:
1 pound lasagna noodles (I used the no boil lasagna noodles)
2 cups cottage cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
2 pounds spinach (frozen)
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 can of artichokes chopped
1 onion chopped
4 cloves garlic minced
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup water
salt to taste
pepper to taste
crushed red pepper to taste
3 tbps or more olive oil
For the white Bechamel sauce:
Makes about 3 cups
5 tbsp butter
4 tbsp all-purpose flour
4 cups milk
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
In a medium saucepan, heat the butter over medium-low heat until melted. Add the flour and stir until smooth. Over medium heat, cook until the mixture turns a light, golden sandy color, about 6 to 7 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the milk in a separate pan until just about to boil. Add the hot milk to the butter mixture 1 cup at a time, whisking continuously until very smooth. Bring to a boil. Cook 10 minutes, stirring constantly, then remove from heat. Season with salt and nutmeg, and set aside until ready to use.
For the spinach mixture:
Heat olive oil in a pan and add chopped onion and saute till translucent, add the minced garlic and saute for about a minute. Then add mushrooms and fry for about 5 minutes till the mushrooms are wilted. You might need more oil as mushrooms are like sponges, they soak up all the oil. Now add the spinach and saute it till the spinach is half cooked. Add the artichokes and add salt and pepper to taste. Add the crushed red pepper depending on the heat you like in the dish. Once the mixture gets incorporated and slightly cooked. Turn the heat off and set it aside.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees
In a bowl add the cottage cheese and the spinach mixture and mix well. Adjust the seasonings.
Now grease a glass pan or any other pan you use to make lasagna and pour a little bit of white sauce and spread it. Now arrange the lasagna sheets and spread the spinach mixture on it. Pour little of the white sauce and top it with other lasagna sheets. Layer all the sheets and mixture accordingly. Once you layer it pour the half cup water around the edges of the pan, that will help the lasagna noodles to cook, pour the remaining white sauce over the lasagna noodles, sprinkle the mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese on top. Bake in the oven for 40-50 minutes.Let it cool for 10 minutes, then cut and serve with garlic bread.