CHEESY MUSHROOM AND SPINACH LASAGNA

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Introduction: CHEESY MUSHROOM AND SPINACH LASAGNA

About: A full-time blogger with a passion for cooking and baking! Check out my blog www.curryandvanilla.com for simple and delicious creations from my kitchen!

Cheesy Mushroom and Spinach Macaroni Lasagna is a hearty and easy version of the Italian favorite lasagna, using macaroni. With layers of fresh, homemade marinara sauce, spinach-cottage cheese filling and oodles and oodles of mozzarella cheese with macaroni in between instead of lasagna pasta sheets, this cheesy, saucy mushroom and spinach mushroom lasagna is going to be your favorite meatless weeknight dinner!

Step 1: INGREDIENTS NEEDED:

For the marinara sauce:

4 large tomatoes

1 medium onion

2 green chilies/jalapenos

2 large cloves of garlic

200 gms mushrooms, washed and chopped

1 medium capsicum/bell pepper, chopped

1 carton tomato puree (1 cup)

½ tsp dried oregano

½ tsp Italian seasoning

Salt

Pinch sugar

2 tbsp olive oil or any cooking oil

For the cottage cheese filling:

200 gm paneer (Indian cottage cheese)/Cottage cheese/Ricotta cheese (about 1 to 1 ½ cups)

2 bunches spinach

¼ cup Parmesan cheese (grated or powdered)

Crushed red chili flakes

Black pepper powder

¼ tsp salt (some varieties of cottage cheese have salt, so add accordingly)

Rest of the ingredients:

2 cups macaroni

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Cilantro, shredded spinach leaves or fresh basil leaves for garnishing

Step 2: TO MAKE THE MARINARA SAUCE:

Blend the tomatoes, onions, green chilies and garlic cloves to a fine puree.

Step 3:

Heat a large deep saucepan and add oil. Once the oil is hot, add the chopped mushrooms and bell peppers; saute on high for about 2 to 3 minutes.

Step 4:

Add the tomato-onion puree along with canned tomato puree (or from the carton), dried oregano, Italian seasoning, salt and pinch sugar.

Step 5:

Mix well and bring to a boil.

Once it comes to a boil, lower heat and simmer on medium low until thick; about 15 to 20 minutes. Keep aside.

Step 6: TO PREPARE THE MACARONI:

Boil macaroni according to package instructions, drain, rinse under running cold water to stop further cooking, drain well and keep aside.

Step 7: TO MAKE THE COTTAGE CHEESE FILLING:

Wash spinach in plenty of water, drain and blanch in boiling water for 2 minutes; remove and drain completely.

Squeeze the blanched spinach well to remove as much moisture as possible, finely chop and keep aside.

Step 8:

If using paneer (Indian cottage cheese), crumble and set aside.

Step 9:

Add the chopped spinach, crushed black pepper along with ¼ cup Parmesan cheese to the crumbled paneer/cottage cheese/ricotta cheese.

Mix well and keep aside.

Step 10: TO ASSEMBLE THE MUSHROOM AND SPINACH LASAGNA:

Preheat oven to 200 C or 400 F.

Gather the elements for the lasagna around a deep 8 or 9-inch baking pan or dish

Step 11:

Spread a thin layer of marinara sauce on the bottom of the dish.

Sprinkle some of the macaroni on top of the sauce, distributing evenly.

Step 12:

Top this with some of the cottage cheese-spinach mixture.

Sprinkle grated mozzarella cheese over this.

Step 13:

Repeat layers until the final top most layer of macaroni, sauce and finally mozzarella cheese.

Step 14:

Cover the dish with foil or any glass cover and bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes until the mixture is bubbly, cheese has melted and is lightly brown.

Remove lid, sprinkle with more mozzarella cheese (optional) and bake uncovered for 5 to 10 minutes until melted.

Remove from oven and keep aside for 5 minutes before serving.

Step 15:

Cut into squares or spoon it up onto serving plates and enjoy with a side of salad and/or some crusty bread for a delicious, Italiano meatless meal!

Step 16: NOTES:

This lasagna can be assemble and refrigerated ahead until ready to bake and serve. You can even freeze for up to a month and use later.

If you have lasagna sheets, you can use them to make the traditional lasagna.

Store leftovers, covered, in the fridge.

Feel free to use any of your favorite vegetables in the filling like zucchini, corn, any squash, eggplant etc.

Adjust the amount of fillings: sauce, cheese and cottage cheese-spinach filling according to preference.

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