Readers have been oohing and aahing over the garden lasagna featured in our latest catalog—someone even posted a picture of it on our Facebook page. Since this dish has been such a hit in our office as well, we chatted with Test Kitchen cook Sandra Wu for the full story.
“We wanted a fresh-tasting vegetable lasagna that wouldn’t require boiling the noodles,” she says. “The sauce is a pesto mixed with bechamel, which is more interesting than a typical mushroom or spinach lasagna. We added things like bell peppers, and it wasn’t tomato-based.”
Although the recipe involves several steps, reviewers agree it’s worth the effort, and so does Sandra.
“I thought it turned out tasty!” she says. “People thought it looked different and pretty, because we’re all used to heavy lasagnas with lots of sausage.”
We’d love to hear what you think about this recipe! Send us your ideas in the comments below.
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup raw baby spinach leaves
1 1/2 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbs. olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
3 cups ricotta cheese
4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
1 lb. cremini mushrooms, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 jar (16 oz.) roasted red bell peppers, drained and sliced
1/4 inch thick1 lb. baby spinach, blanched and squeezed dry
9 oz. no-boil lasagna noodles, torn into rough 2-inch pieces
4 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 Tbs. thinly sliced fresh basil
In a blender, combine the basil leaves, raw spinach, 1/2 tsp. of the garlic and the 1/2 cup olive oil and process until a thick sauce forms. Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano, salt and pepper. In a bowl, combine the ricotta, egg, salt and pepper. Set aside.
In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the remaining 1 tsp. garlic and the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Slowly stir in the milk, increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 8 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl and let cool for 15 minutes. Stir the basil puree into the sauce.
In a large fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the 1 Tbs. olive oil. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and the excess moisture has evaporated, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Add the bell peppers, blanched spinach, salt and pepper and stir to combine.
Preheat an oven to 375°F. Butter a 3 1/2-quart shallow Dutch oven.
Spread 1/2 cup of the sauce on the bottom of the pot and arrange a single layer of torn noodles on the sauce. Top with 1/2 cup of the ricotta mixture, 1 cup of the vegetable mixture, 1/2 cup of the sauce and 1 cup of the mozzarella. Layer the noodles, ricotta, vegetables, sauce and mozzarella 2 more times, then add a layer of noodles, ricotta, vegetables and noodles. Spread the remaining sauce on top and sprinkle with the remaining 1 1/2 cups mozzarella.
Cover the pot, transfer to the oven and bake until the noodles are nearly tender and the filling is bubbly, about 45 minutes. Uncover the pot and continue baking until the top is browned, about 15 minutes more. Let the lasagna rest for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with the sliced basil, cut into slices and serve immediately. Serves 8 to 10.