Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sunday Dinner: Spinach Lasagna

Tonight I invited some co-workers over for dinner.  We’ve had a lot of stress at work lately, and I thought it would be nice to invite the department that I work most closely with over to my place so that we could all bond outside of the workplace and in a nice, casual, comfortable environment.  It also so happens that all of those co-workers are female.  No offense to any of my male friends, but there is definitely a different vibe to an all female gathering.  The number one difference being how easy the cleanup is; I am not saying that this would happen with every group of women, nor am I saying that it would not be the same with a select few of my male friends.  But I will say this: I was completely finished cleaning up within 30 minutes of everyone leaving my house!  The girls helped me put things back in my fridge, helped me put leftovers in Tupperware, put their dishes in the sink, etc.   It was amazing!  It also helped that I washed all the dishes in the house and cleared out the dishwasher before anyone arrived so that there would be room in the dishwasher for dirty dishes at the end of the night.  Also, while the lasagna was baking I was able to wash all the prep dishes and generally clean up the kitchen.

My co-workers each volunteered to bring something, so I was only responsible for the main course tonight.  One person brought appetizer-y things, another brought a delicious salad, another brought wine, and one of my co-workers actually baked a pumpkin pie today!  First pumpkin pie of the season – I had forgotten how much I enjoy whipped cream . . . er, pumpkin pie topped with whipped cream . . . yeah, that’s it . . .

One of my co-workers is vegetarian, so I decided to do a Spinach Lasagna from “Diet For a Small Planet” by Frances Moore Lappe.  I love this book!  My mom gave it to me for Christmas my first year in law school, and I read it in about two days – and then at the back, there are tons of great vegetarian recipes.  If you were ever curious about the early days of vegetarianism becoming mainstream, I definitely recommend this book.  It’s all about complementary proteins, sustainable eating, etc.  It’s like the grandmother of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.”

Ok, onto the food!  I don’t think I would recommend doing this on a weekday – much too time consuming – unless you buy those lasagna noodles you don’t have to pre-cook.  If I were to do it over again, I would definitely look for those.  I had to pre-cook the lasagna noodles, which I did waaay ahead of time bc I also had to clean the house.  So while the noodles were cooling, I cleaned.

Later in the day, I sautéed the onion, tomatoes, etc. and then added the spinach.

I cooked that until the spinach wilted.  It never ceases to amaze me how much spinach cooks down! 

Then I left the spinach on simmer while I mixed the cheeses together.  And then added the spinach mixture. 

 Ok, ok, I know it doesn’t look that appealing, but I swear, even at that point, it tasted great!

Then I layered the noodles and the spinach mixture in a pan and cooked at 350 for about 40 minutes.  Et voila!

I’m not quite sure what happened with the top layer of noodles.  They curled up on themselves and made it really difficult to cut into serving sized portions!  Fortunately, my dinner guests said that they like crunchy lasagna noodles.  Hopefully they weren’t just being nice!

And now the accounting fun:
Spinach Lasagna

1/2 pound lasagna noodles

1/2 onion

2 tomatoes

2 cloves garlic

1/2 teaspoon oregano/basil/rosemary

1 lb spinach

1 cup low fat cottage cheese

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

10 oz mozzarella cheese


8 servings =
per serving

* A note on the accounting – since there were several dishes that I did not prepare, this is not a price for the whole meal – just the main course.  Also, I did prepare another side dish that I am saving for a blog later in the week, and that is not accounted for here either.  But it’s still fun to see.  J

If you want to make this yourself, here’s the full recipe (with notes for my alterations):
-         3-4 tbps oil
-         ½ lb lasagna noodles, cooked to al dente
-      1 medium onion, chopped (I used half an onion – I always cut the recommended amount of onion in half bc I’m not a huge fan of onions, but I like the flavor they add to recipes)
-         2 tomatoes, chopped
-         10 medium mushrooms (I detest mushrooms, so I just omitted them)
-         ½ tsp each oregano, basil, rosemary (I used fresh rosemary from my neighbor’s garden)
-         2 tbsp chopped fresh parsely (I bought the parsley, and then completely forgot to use it, but the recipe tasted fine without it)
-         1 lb spinach, washed, drained and chopped
-         1 cup non-fat cottage cheese
-         ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
-         10 oz grated mozzarella cheese

·        Preheat oven to 350. 
·        Heat oil in a big skillet, sauté garlic, onion, tomatoes and mushrooms.
·    When onion is translucent, add herbs and spinach, stirring until spinach is wilted.  Simmer.
·        Reserving ½ cup mozzarella cheese, in a large bowl, combine cheeses.
·        Pour spinach mix into cheese mixture and stir thoroughly.
·      Layer noodles alternately with spinach/cheese mixture in an 8x13 in baking pan.
·        Top with reserved mozzarella.
·        Bake 30-40 minutes.
·        Serves ~8

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