My mother is a pasta lover, so much so that her nickname is “Betty Spaghetti.” Homemade lasagna was her signature piece, completely made from scratch. When I stopped eating nightshade vegetables, I transformed her traditional lasagna recipe into one with a white sauce (White Lasagna), and it became a new favorite of mine.
Lately, I have been cooking vegetarian food with my boyfriend. It seemed like a great time to try cooking a vegetarian lasagna, one wit neither nightshades nor meat. The recipe we created is a great deal easier and quicker than having to form all of those (albeit delicious) meatballs—without sacrificing a bit of the taste.
The Asiago cheese gives this dish a special flavor, so please don’t substitute. And you’ll want to use fresh spinach to be sure not to create too much liquid.
Vegetarian White Lasagna
1 small onion, chopped coarsely
About 14 baby Bella mushrooms (about 3/4 lb.), chopped coarsely
4 cloves garlic
1/4 cup (4 T.) butter
1/4 cup millet flour
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup cold water
1 and 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
Salt and pepper
10 oz. rice lasagna noodles
About 1/4 lb. fresh baby spinach
8 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced, cubed, or pulled apart into small pieces
1 1b. package ricotta cheese
About 2 cups of finely grated Asiago cheese
For mushrooms: Sauté onions and minced garlic in olive oil. Add mushrooms, sautéing until almost done.
For pasta: Cook according to package directions (about 13 minutes). Drain on a bath towel.
For sauce: In a small to medium skillet, make a roué by melting the butter and then adding the millet flour. Cook on low about 5 minutes, stirring often. Then stir in cream and water. Add oregano, basil, salt, and pepper. Stir until thickened; remove from heat.
To Assemble: Cover the bottom of a 9" x 13" greased pan with about four strips of pasta. Then distribute half of the mushrooms and a good layer of spinach (as it will shrink). Add half of the mozzarella and ricota, and just under half of the Asiago. (Reserve some Asiago for the top.) Distribute just less than half the sauce over all. Then layer sparingly with one-third of the pasta. Repeat second layer with mushrooms, spinach, cheeses, and most of the sauce. For the final layer, only add the rest of the sauce (to keep pasta from getting tough) sprinkled with the remaining Asiago.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes (convection oven: 325 degrees for 30 minutes). Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes so that cheeses will gel slightly. Freezes well. Yield: 7-8 servings.
We’ll be eating the leftovers tomorrow with fresh young asparagus. But this Vegetarian White Lasagna is a meal unto itself. And having two people work on the preparation meant that we were eating within 90 minutes of our start time.
So invite a friend or have a party with this gourmet dish as the centerpiece. Or make it yourself and be glad that it freezes well.