Friday, May 29, 2009

That's Amore

When I moved to New York last September, I moved into a small Midtown apartment with three roommates, all of whom were perfect strangers to me. Needless to say, I was a bit nervous. On top of that, we would all be sharing one bedroom. Now, I would not typically characterize myself as a praying woman, but once I heard that, I figured I'd better give it a shot. Much to my chagrin, those three strangers, Amanda, Relana and Whitney, turned out to be incredible roommates and it's been all love ever since.
The four of us got on brilliantly and because we were living in New York, our apartment experienced a certain amount of traffic. After all, does anyone really need an excuse to come to New York? When Amanda's best friend Tara came to visit, Tara and I decided to make dinner for everyone. We hopped the subway down to Union Square and gathered all the ingredients for the makings of the perfect lasagna: a simple marinara sauce, fluffy ricotta, fresh spinach and mushrooms, and just a little bit of heat. Unfortunately, as I began assembling the lasagna, I noticed a small problem. I had purchased far too many lasagna noodles. I'm talking 4 or 5 boxes here! Fortunately, my bad math translated into a wonderful apartment tradition--Friday night lasagna dinners. It gave us all a chance to gather around the table, talk, and drink the $3.99 bottle of wine we had been saving all week. For me, when it comes to dinner with friends, it's all love and it's always lasagna.

Vegetarian Lasagna with Spinach and Mushrooms

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp butter

2 cloves of garlic, minced

¼ tsp red chile flakes

1 tsp sugar

3 boxes of sliced button mushrooms

2 boxes of No Boil Lasagna noodles

1 (32 oz) jar of Marinara Sauce

1 (15 oz) jar of San Marzano Italian chopped tomatoes

1/4 Cup Red Wine

2 (15 oz) containers of part-skim ricotta cheese, room temperature

½ -1 lb Mozzarella Cheese, coarsely grated

¼ Cup parmesan cheese, finely grated

¼ Cup fontina cheese, coarsely grated

2 eggs, room temperature

¼ Cup Italian parsley, chopped

¼ tsp dried rosemary (You can also use fresh rosemary, I just had dried rosemary on hand)

1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped

1 small box of pre-washed spinach

Salt and Pepper (to taste)

Heat olive oil, butter and red chile flakes over medium heat in a skillet. Add garlic and heat until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Add mushrooms and sauté until nicely browned. Combine ricotta cheese, parsley, rosemary, thyme, eggs, 1 cup of mozzarella and ¼ C parmesan cheese in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. In a medium saucepan, combine the marinara sauce, chopped tomatoes, red wine and sugar and simmer for 20 minutes until the flavors meld. Allow the sauce to cool slightly. Next, lightly coat the bottom of the lasagna pan with the marinara sauce. Stack 4 lasagna noodles on top of the marina sauce, overlapping the noodles as you go. Spread a thin layer of the ricotta (about ¼ of the mixture) over the noodles. Next, sprinkle a layer of spinach on top of the ricotta (adding as much or as little as you like) and top the spinach with a ¼ of the sautéed mushrooms. Ladle more marinara sauce on top of the mushroom, just so you have a nice even layer of sauce. Repeat this process 3 more times, beginning with the noodles and ending with the sauce. You should have 4 layers. Sprinkle the top of the lasagna with the mozzarella, parmesan and fontina cheeses. Cover the lasagna with a layer of parchment paper and foil or simply buttered foil to lock in the moisture. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and cook according to the package instructions, 45 minutes-1 hour, depending on your oven. Just be sure to keep an eye on it and check it periodically. To brown the cheese, remove the parchment paper and foil and place the lasagna under the broiler for an additional 5-10 minutes, until it is evenly browned on top. Remove lasagna from the oven and let it rest covered for an additional ten minutes. Garnish with remaining parsley. Serves 4-6.


  1. What do you mean you moved to NY? we need to hang out!

    P.S. heart this blog!

  2. Hey Amy!

    I'm so glad you like the blog! Yes, I was living in New York this past fall. I can't believe you didn't know! This is a highly upsetting development. Like I mentioned to you earlier, I'm home in Texas studying for the GRE, but I'm hoping to get back to the city as soon as I can! Then, we'll definitely arrange a little get together! In the mean time, I hope you try out some recipes and keep checking back in. If you like the blog, you can become a follower and keep track of all the new recipes I'll be posting. Take care!