Thursday, July 10, 2008
Sun Dried Tomato and Spinach Lasagna
A few weeks ago when I first started this gluten free cooking blog, I asked my friends to challenge me with their favorite family recipes. I wanted to see if I could adapt them for a gluten free diet - in part to expand my repertoire as a cook - but also to show that living gluten free doesn’t mean you can’t eat all the traditional foods you’ve grown up loving! It just takes making a few tiny changes here and there.
Several of my friends were kind enough to share their recipes with me (thank you so much!) and so I will be premiering them on this blog every so often, as soon as I can guarantee that these dishes still look, smell and taste fantastic despite their new gluten free status... and most importantly, that the food itself will leave my children and my readers with happy tummies while digesting.
The first three recipes sent to me were each for lasagna. It makes sense that so many people love this meal… meltingly rich, comforting and delicious. Here is the culmination of my lasagne adaptation – but I can’t take much credit. The original recipe for this gorgeous lasagna comes from the warm and inviting kitchen of my dear friend Denise.
Avitia Family Recipe: Sun Dried Tomato and Spinach Lasagna
What you'll need:
1 - 9 oz box of organic brown rice lasagna (I use Tinkyada)
16 oz fresh mozzarella
16 oz fat free cottage cheese
2/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 tsp Italian seasoning (or more, to taste)
32 oz gluten free marinara sauce (approx 1 1/4 jars)
16 oz crimini mushrooms, sliced
6 cloves fresh minced garlic
1 bag fresh organic spinach (baby leaves)
1 cup gluten free sun dried tomatoes
Extra virgin olive oil
1 lb – 15% fat ground beef
1 cup pine nuts
How It Works:
Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil on the bottom of a 13 X 9 X 3 inch deep baking pan.
In a deep pot, boil lightly salted water. When it is boiling, add your rice lasagna noodles (we use Tinkyada) and allow them to boil for 16 minutes according to directions on package. (Use a timer, and when your noodles are done, strain and then rinse them in cold water. Set aside.)
Shred your parmesan if you purchased it in a block. Next, combine eggs, cottage cheese and ½ cup of your parmesan in a medium bowl. Tear or slice your mozzarella into small pieces, dividing into two cups. Slice your mushrooms into pieces about ¼ inch in width.
In a large pan, heat olive oil at medium low temperature. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant. For those people using beef, add 1 lb of ground beef into the pan with the garlic. Raise temperature of pan to medium and break the beef into small pieces, stirring frequently until both the garlic and beef are half-way browned, then add your sliced mushrooms. Season well with crushed black pepper, salt and Italian seasoning (to suit your personal taste). Sauté the garlic-beef-mushroom mixture until the beef is fairly well browned and mushrooms are tender. Turn off heat under pan.
For those using pine nuts, now is the time to toast your pine nuts in olive oil on low heat…stirring them often (they should be golden brown). When they reach golden brown, turn off the heat and set pan aside.
Spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of your baking pan. Next, place a layer of rice lasagna noodles (slightly overlapping) in the pan. Top it with a liberal scoop of your egg-cottage cheese mixture, spread this evenly on top of the noodles. Follow up with a liberal scoop of your garlic-mushroom-(beef) mixture. Spread this on top of the other layers. Cover this with evenly scattered sun dried tomato pieces.
Now pour another evenly distributed layer of tomato sauce on the whole mixture, and then use ¾ of one of your cups of mozzarella pieces – scatter them evenly on top of the mushroom – beef – cottage cheese – sun dried tomato – sauce layers. Lastly, spread about ¼ bag of your baby spinach leaves (washed) on top of this.
Ready for the next step?
Repeat everything you just did. Ideally, you will end up with two thick layers in your lasagna. Once you have the last ¼ of baby spinach leaves carefully spread on your near-to-overflowing pan, you should use the last of your rice lasagna noodles on the very top. Cover them with your remaining sauce (a thin, not thick layer) and all the remaining fresh mozzarella (what’s left after you complete your second layer… should be about ½ cup remaining). Use your remaining parmesan (a little less than ¼ cup) to scatter across top of lasagna for taste.
To be completely clear, your layers should look like this:
(3) Egg-Cottage Cheese
(4) Garlic-Mushroom-Seasoned Beef
(5) Sun Dried Tomatoes
(6) Tomato Sauce
(7) Fresh Mozzarella
(8) Baby Spinach Leaves
Your oven should be nice and hot now!
Cover your lasagna with tin foil (ideally the 100% recycled kind) and cook it until bubbly about 50 – 60 minutes. My oven runs hot, we stuck with 50 minutes. Carefully peel off the foil and continue cooking it uncovered until all of the cheese is melted – I gave it about 10 more minutes, but you can eyeball this. Every oven is different.
When your masterpiece is finished, let it stand for about 15 minutes before you cut into it. Denise says that this recipe will be runny… but perhaps because of all the adaptations, ours didn’t seem that runny. It was soft, packed full of flavor, and quite heavenly. My husband and children devoured it and they all took second helpings. High praise indeed!
Denise suggests serving her family’s favorite lasagna over a bed of fresh spinach, topped with sautéed mushrooms, pine nuts and grated pecorino cheese. Wow!!!