An easy-to-serve twist on a classic dish!
I love making lasagne when I have a crowd (small or large) to feed but I do find that sometimes serving them prettily can be a challenge. This recipe was inspired by my desire to create a new format that comes out of the pan in attractive (and delicious) portions and I’m very pleased by how it turned out. You could easily follow this same technique with a more traditional meat and tomato sauce lasagne, but I’m happy to offer this vegetarian version as a starting point.
Vegetables for filling:
- 3 tablespoons (45 mL) extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 3 tablespoons (42 g) butter, divided
- 1 pound (454 grams) Portobello mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 3 cups (90 g) chopped spinach
- sea salt, freshly ground pepper
- 2/3 cup (130 g) caramelized onions (see note below)
- 1/2 cup (113 g) butter
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) all-purpose flour
- 5 cups (1.25 L) milk
- 1 teaspoon (7 g) sea salt
- 1 teaspoon (2.3 g) freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon (1.1 g) freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 1/2 cups (375 g) ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup (45 g) freshly grated Parmesan
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tablespoon (3.85 g) finely chopped parsley
- Few pinches salt and pepper
- 12 cooked, cooled lasagne noodles (wheat or gluten-free)
- 1 cup (225 g) grated mozzarella
Additional chopped parsley and lemon wedges, to serve (optional but delicious)
- Start by cooking lasagne noodles; drain and set aside, separating out in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking tray. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and gently toss to coat then spread out again.
- Prepare the vegetables: add 1 tablespoon (15 mL) olive oil and 1 tablespoon (14 g) butter to a large sauté pan and place over medium heat. When the butter melts, add just enough of the sliced portobellos to form a single layer. Increase heat to just above medium and cook, gently flipping mushroom slices occasionally, until they have stopped releasing liquid and are beginning to get crispy on the edges. Transfer cooked portobellos to a plate and repeat with remaining slices, adding oil and butter between batches if needed.
- Note: if you want to speed things up, you can chop the portobellos small and sauté in butter all at once. The flavour will be the same in the finished dish – you’ll just miss out on the nice meaty texture that Portobello slices offer.
- When all portobellos are cooked, add remaining butter (or 1 teaspoon / 5 g if you have used it all) to the same skilled the portobellos were cooked in, add the chopped spinach. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until spinach has wilted and become tender (about 1 minute). Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and remove from heat. Stir in caramelized onions and transfer mixture to a bowl then set aside to cool.
- Make the Béchamel sauce by melting 1/2 cup (125 mL) of the butter in a clean, large saucepan. Add the flour and cook for 2 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. When the mixture is bubbling and smells a bit like cookies baking, pour the milk slowly into the flour and butter mixture, whisking vigorously. Add 1 teaspoon (5 mL) of salt along with the pepper and nutmeg. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking frequently, until the sauce has thickened. Remove from heat.
- To assemble the lasagna, in a medium bowl, blend together the ricotta, Parmesan, beaten egg and parsley. Stir in the cooked spinach and caramelized onions.
- Ladle just enough of the Béchamel sauce to cover the bottom of an 8 x 12 inch (20 x 30 cm) baking dish.
- As show in the upper left photo above, spread a thin layer (about 2 tablespoons) of the ricotta and spinach mixture over each of the cooked lasagne noodles, dividing the mixture evenly among the noodles. Lay the Portobello slices on top of the noodles, in a single layer (again, divide them evenly among the noodles).
- Carefully roll each noodle up, one at a time, then place them frilly side up (not seam side down) in the prepared baking dish. Ladle remaining Béchamel sauce over the rolls, drizzling into the centre layers as best as you can and coating the outside of each roll with sauce. Sprinkle mozzarella evenly over the rolls.
- At this point, the pan can be covered and refrigerated for up to 24 hours before baking.
- Bake the lasagna in an oven preheated to 375F for 45 to 55 minutes, or until the top is browned and the sauce is bubbly and hot (160F-165F internal temperature). Allow to sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving. If desired, sprinkle with minced parsley when serving. We also like to pass the lemon wedges at the table to add a bright accent to the cheesy flavour.
Makes 6–8 servings.
Note: Caramelize the onions in advance by quartering one large onion and slicing thinly. Cook over medium-high heat in a large pot with 1 tablespoon (15 mL) olive oil, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until beginning to soften. Cover and reduce heat to low; cook for 30 minutes more, stirring occasionally, until completely soften. Remove lid and increase heat to medium-high. Cook 10 – 12 minutes longer, stirring often, until liquid has evaporated and onions are sticking slightly to bottom of pan and turning golden brown. Remove from heat and transfer to an airtight container; refrigerate for a week or freeze for up to 6 months. Because this is a time-consuming process, I usually caramelize 4-5 pounds (1.8-2.25 kg) of onions at a time. You can freeze them in ice cube trays then transfer the cubes to an airtight container for easy access when you just want a small amount of onions to add to a dish.