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Garden Lasagna

To create this lasagna, we turned to the garden for inspiration, layering the dish with fresh spinach, cremini mushrooms and bell peppers, plus three types of cheeses for richness. No-boil lasagna noodles streamline preparation.

Ingredients:

  • 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
  • 1 egg
  • 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 thick
  • 1 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

Directions:

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.

Williams-Sonoma Kitchen.