Ask Chef Phyllis
At Christmastime, I make a huge three-cheese, three-meat lasagna. I admit that it’s a lot of work to prepare, but when all done, it’s done. Put it in the oven, relax with my guests and family, and pour a glass of wine is all I want to do. An antipasto is an easy appetizer since all you do is assemble it. Family usually brings dessert, and I provide the drinks. Let’s do more holidays like this. I personally think that Thanksgiving is a lot more work. This year, my brother’s new girlfriend is coming, and Shelley is a vegetarian. I wish to make her a lasagna too. There are hundreds on the internet. Do you have a simple recipe that’s easy to prepare? No fussing involved since there’s always more to do.
—Gail from Salt Lake City, Utah
I agree, holiday time is just so busy that we forget to enjoy the people around us and instead get caught up in all that needs doing. In an effort to make everything perfect, we’re frazzled by the overwhelming tasks that we assign ourselves. I too fall into this category. If you make a list, stick to it—but don’t add to it daily. We’re all guilty of that sometimes too.
You’re so trendy and thoughtful, Gail. A lasagna just for your new guest is a wonderful idea. Here’s a quick, one-pot spinach-mushroom lasagna that will be a sure winner. The recipe calls for no-boil lasagna noodles and frozen organic spinach (the best bargain in the frozen food isle). It’s simple, delicious, and easy to clean up.
The newest trend is one-pot dinners. How sweet is it to cook and serve in the same vessel? My kind of holiday timesaver. I hope to see a lot more of them, especially at holiday time. But why not year-round as well? What a relief!
Chef’s note: This is an easy-to-assemble one-pot vegetarian lasagna with loads of flavor. It’s festive and colorful to the eye, and just as appealing as the classic version. Your guest will feel special for the extra effort, and I can assure you that others will want to try it as well. Happy holidays!
1 (15 oz.) container whole milk ricotta cheese
2½ cups shredded mozzarella
6 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, finely diced
1 (8 oz.) package cremini (Italian brown) mushrooms, sliced
1 (10 oz.) box organic frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
¼ cup arrowroot (if necessary)
2½ cups whole milk
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
4 oz. no-boil organic, whole grain lasagna noodles (such as Delallo), broken into thirds
¼ cup Parmesan cheese
Special equipment: Dutch oven (9–10 inches)
- Preheat oven to 375°F. In a medium bowl, mix ricotta and 1½ cups mozzarella (reserve remaining 1 cup mozzarella for topping). Set aside.
- Melt 2 tablespoons butter in Dutch oven. Add onions and mushrooms and sauté until nicely browned, about 10–15 minutes.
- Add well-squeezed spinach and garlic. Continue cooking until all the liquid from the spinach is absorbed. Remove half the spinach mixture to a bowl.
- Add remaining 4 tablespoons butter into the pot. Add arrowroot and milk and whisk until thickened. (You may also hold off on the arrowroot and add only if necessary to thicken.) Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
- Assemble lasagna: place ⅓ of lasagna noodles on top of sauce in the Dutch oven. Top with half of ricotta mixture, then top with half of spinach-mushroom mixture. Repeat until all ingredients are layered, just as you would do for any lasagna.
- Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup mozzarella and ¼ cup Parmesan cheese on top. Cover and bake 15 minutes or until the lasagna is lightly browned and bubbly.
Image from iStock/ALLEKO.