Meatless Lasagna

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Recipe courtesy of Elizabeth Levesque

We are not an Italian family, but we sure do eat our fair share of pasta.  Lasagna is one of my favorite dishes to make; it tastes better the next day (which means 1 day of cooking yields two meals), and if I make an extra pan and freeze it, one messy day actually yields four meals.  You’ll probably notice that the mushrooms are sliced quite large, that is because only half the family likes mushrooms.  It is easier to pick out big pieces of mushroom if you don’t care for them.  On the other hand, if you like mushrooms, then you get a real taste and not a tiny speck of mushroom.  I was in the mood for a fresh tasting lasagna, not a meat based sauce.  The mushrooms give the sauce an earthy, robust quality and you don’t miss the meat at all.  Enjoy!

Elizabeth’s Pasta Sauce

2-4 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 pound mushrooms

3-4 nice cloves garlic

4 -15 oz. cans tomato sauce

1-60z. can tomato paste

sugar

granulated garlic (or garlic powder)

basil

oregano

2 bay leaves

salt and pepper

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Pasta Sauce Directions

1. Wipe off the mushrooms with a paper towel.  Trim the bottom of each stem and slice the mushrooms to the size you prefer.  Chop the onion.

2. Heat the olive oil.  Using a garlic press, press the cloves of garlic into the warm oil.  Stir and do not allow the garlic to stick or burn.  You want it to flavor the oil before you add the vegetables.

3. After about one minute, add the onion and mushrooms.  Stir to coat the vegetables.  Allow the vegetables to simmer on low for about 10 minutes, or til soft but not mushy or browned.

4. Add the tomato sauce and paste.  Add the seasonings.  Taste and add the sugar (start with a Tablespoon and taste until you get it where you would like it to be).  I typically add about 1/4 cup of sugar with a large pot of sauce.

5. Once you have everything in the pot, turn the heat up a little until you see it trying to boil.  Stir to keep it from sticking, turn the heat down and allow it to simmer for about 30 minutes.

 

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Meatless Lasagna Ingredients

12 lasagna noodles ( my pan fits 4 noodles across and 3 layers deep, but cook more if you need to)

about 15 oz ricotta cheese

about 24 oz. shredded mozzarella

1 cup parmesan cheese, divide in 2

pasta sauce-either homemade, or a large jar of Prego, Ragu, etc.

Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped or snipped

 

Lasagna Directions

1. Cook the lasagna noodles in a pot of boiling water for about 4 or 5 minutes.  You just want to cook them long enough to make them pliable, not done.  Drain and cool.  To keep them from sticking together, rinse with cold water so you don’t burn your fingers, then drape the noodles around the colander to allow them to drip and cool.

2. Mix the ricotta cheese with 1/2 cup of the divided parmesan cheese and parsley.

3. Spray your lasagna pan with Pam.  Use a soup ladle to place 2 or 3 large scoops of sauce in the lasagna pan.  Spread it out evenly.

4. Fill the pan with a row of  lasagna noodles, they can overlap a little, but don’t leave empty spaces.

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5. Spread the ricotta mixture in a thin layer across the noodles-I use a small off-set spatula for this.  You can find them in any Wilton cake decorating display.

6. Ladle on enough sauce to cover the ricotta mixture, again use the spatula to spread it all evenly.

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7. Sprinkle on mozzarella cheese to cover it all.  You have completed 1 layer.  Save some sauce for the end, then repeat this process two more times, ending with the saved sauce.  Sprinkle the last 1/2 cup of parmesan over it all.

8. Bake at 350°F. for about 45 minutes, or til very bubbly.  Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting.  Garnish each piece with fresh parsley.

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Mika

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Jasper

These are our furry babies, Mika and Jasper, enjoying a beautiful spring day.  They are Korean Jindos, we got them 14 years ago from PAWS (Pets Are Worth Saving), a shelter at Misawa AB, Japan.  They are brother and sister from a litter of puppies that were thrown away in a box on the side of the road.

Roast Beef Sandwiches with Guinness Mushrooms

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Roast Beef Sandwiches recipe courtesy of Woman’s Day Magazine, Hearst Communications, New York, N.Y.

Mushrooms in Guinness recipe courtesy of Guinness.com

 

The idea for this recipe came to me as I flipped through the March 2013 Woman’s Day magazine and saw a beautiful roast beef sandwich.  It was topped with arugula, which is not that appealing to my husband.  He loves mushrooms, and Guinness had a terrific recipe for mushrooms on their website, so I just combined the two recipes into this roast beef/mushroom-and-beer mash-up.  He was a very happy man, indeed.  Enjoy!

 

Ingredients

4 sandwich rolls (I used multi-grain hamburger buns)
1/2 pound thinly sliced roast beef
1/3 cup sour cream
1 Tablespoon prepared horseradish
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 pounds mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed and sliced
2 ounces onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 ounce butter
1/2 bottle Guinness draught
salt and pepper
1/4 cup cream
2 Tablespoons beef or brown gravy
2 Tablespoons roux (butter/flour mixture), to thicken gravy

 Directions

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1. Melt butter, soften onions and garlic.

 

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2. Add mushrooms. Partially cook without letting onions brown.

 

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3. Add Guinness, cook on full heat until Guinness is reduced by half.

 

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4. Add cream and gravy, thicken with the roux, and add seasonings.

 

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5. Meanwhile, mix together horseradish, sour cream and Dijon mustard.  Spread evenly on the bottom buns.  Stack roast beef on top of the horseradish mixture.

 

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6. Once the gravy has thickened, top the roast beef with the mushrooms and add some of the gravy.

 

 

 

 

Mushroom Soup

Mushroom Soup is courtesy of “The Ultimate Soup Bible” by Anne Sheasby

published by Barnes & Noble

 

2 Tablespoons butter

1 Tablespoon oil

1 onion, roughly chopped

4 potatoes, roughly chopped

12 oz. mixed mushrooms, such as cremini, portabello, and white, cleaned and roughly chopped

1-2 cloves garlic, crushed

2/3 cup white wine

5 cups chicken stock

fresh parsley, chopped

salt and fresh ground pepper

sour cream, to garnish

1. Heat the butter and oil in a large pan over medium heat.  Add the chopped onion, turning it in the butter until well coated.  Stir in the potatoes.  Cover and sweat over a low heat for 5-10 minutes until softened, but not browned.

2. Add the mushrooms, garlic, white wine, and chicken stock.  Season, bring to a boil and cook for 15 minutes, or until all the ingredients are tender.

3. Put the mixture through a food mill using the coarse blade, or blend. Be careful if using anything other than a food mill, not to blend too much.  The soup should have texture and color from the various ingredients, not be pureed into baby food.  I know this can happen because the first time I used my immersion blender, I could not stop myself.  It was so fun, fast and easy to use.  Before I realized it, I had liquified my dish into some sort of potato frappe that you could drink through a straw.

4. Return the blended soup to the pan and add some parsley. Bring back to a boil, season and serve with the sour cream and parsley garnish. This is a pretty quick soup to make and it freezes well.  A crusty french bread and a cucumber salad round out the meal nicely. Enjoy!