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Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Sharing My Recipes, My Life, And The Food Tale Of Two Cities

Wild Mushroom And Spinach Lasagna

Wid Mushroom And Spinach Lasagna (2)

Wid Mushroom And Spinach Lasagna (3)

Wild Mushroom And Spinach Lasagna (9)

Before I get into this post, a video at www.YouTube.com/LindaHamel is going to be posted on my  YouTube channel, for this recipe. There’s a couple of things I want to mention.
1). I take you through a shortened version of this recipe. No one wants to watch an entire video from start to finish on making a Lasagna. The video would run over an hour and a half long and with everyone having busy lives, I thought, that would be just a bad idea. to keep the video short and sweet, I decided to prepare all the components for the lasagna in advance. In the video, I generally go through the steps on how I made each one. The video really concentrates on the assembly and the cooking process.
2). Something else I decided not to mention is adding fresh and dried Thyme to my sautèed mushrooms.  I felt it’s an ingredient that’s a personal preference. Thyme has a slight lemony flavor that I think pairs really well with mushrooms. In my ingredient list below, I include both dried and fresh Thyme but made them optional.
3). It’s important that if you want to make this recipe the ingredients and directions are at the bottom of this post.

After coming out of the oven, lasagna needs to rest for at least 20 minutes before cutting. The reason for that is that lasagna needs time to set up.

The top picture is after it’s been done cooking and rested for 20 minutes. The picture below is after the entire casserole dish had been refrigerated overnight and then a piece was cut.  You can see a big difference in the presentation. Truth be told, I think lasagna is always better the second day.

Wid Mushroom And Spinach Lasagna (1)

My Wild Mushroom And Spinach Lasagna is loaded with flavor. I promise, you won’t miss the meat! Mushrooms are such a great substitute for meat. Their meaty texture and earthy flavor paired with spinach, fresh mozzarella, and creamy Béchamel sauce takes comfort food to a whole other level.

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Once the spinach has thawed completely, squeeze all the excess water from the spinach. You want the spinach to be as dry as possible.

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Wild Mushroom And Spinach Lasagna (10)

Wild Mushroom And Spinach Lasagna (9)

Ingredients:
2 boxes of dried oven ready lasagna noodles ( you may only need a little over 1 box)
2 sticks of unsalted butter, 1 stick for Bechamel sauce, 3 tablespoons for mushrooms, the remainder for greasing baking dish
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of freshly minced Thyme leaves (optional)
1 tablespoons of dried Thyme (optional)
4 cups whole milk
2 -10 ounce packages of thawed, drained spinach, squeeze out excess water
3/4 of 32 ounce container of Ricotta cheese
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt (for Ricotta mixture)
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper (for Ricotta mixture)
3 large eggs
1 large package of fresh Mozzarella, slice into 14 rounds
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon for freshly ground nutmeg (store- bought ground is fine)
1 teaspoon Kosher salt, 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper (for Bechamel sauce)
1 teaspoon Kosher salt, 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper (for sautéed mushrooms)
2 pounds of sliced sautéed wild mushrooms
4 large cloves garlic minced
1 cup of grated Parmesan
8 ounces (1 cup) store-bought shredded Mozzarella
1/4 cup of fresh and finely chopped Italian flat leaf parsley for Ricotta mixture,
2 tablespoons dried parsley for top

Directions For Spinach:
Thaw both boxes of frozen spinach the day before. Once thawed, drain and squeeze dry any excess water. You want the spinach to be as free of any water as possible. Transfer to bowl and set aside.

Directions For Cheeses:
Place store bought shredded Mozzarella cheese in a bowl and set aside. Chop up the Parmesan cheese into small chunks and place them into a food processor. Pulse a few times until you have the consistency of ground cheese. For the fresh Mozzarella, slice the Mozzarella into 1/4 inch thick slices. Place all prepped cheeses in the frig until needed.

Directions For Ricotta:
In a large bowl add Ricotta, 3 beaten large eggs, 1/2 teaspoon each of Kosher salt, and pepper, and finely chopped fresh flat leave Italian parsley. Mix together until well combined and set aside.

Directions For The Bechamel Sauce:
Bring the milk to a simmer in a saucepan. Set aside. Melt 8 tablespoons of butter (1 stick) in a large saucepan. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute over low heat, whisking constantly until flour has cooked out and becomes blonde in color. Pour the hot milk into the butter-flour mixture all at once. Add 1 teaspoon each of Kosher salt, pepper, and 1 teaspoon of freshly ground nutmeg, and cook over med-low heat, whisking for 3-5 minutes, until thick. To double check on the thickness of the Bechamel sauce, dip a wooden spoon into the sauce. Take your finger and make a line down the back of the spoon, if the sauce stays separate and doesn’t run together, sauce is ready. Immediately transfer to a large bowl. Place plastic wrap directly over the sauce, preventing a skin from forming, and set aside.

Directions For Sautéed Mushrooms: click the link below for recipe

Sauteed Wild Mushrooms

YouTube Video for this recipe is at www.YouTube.com/LindaHamel

Assembling The Lasagna:
Spread some of the sauce in the bottom of the buttered 8 x 12 x 4 inch baking dish. Arrange a layer of oven-ready noodles on top, then ladle more Bechamel sauce. Sprinkle both grated Parmesan and shredded  Mozzarells cheeses. Next, add the half the spinach and mushrooms. To that, add the fresh Mozzarella slices.  Repeat this process once more. Next, add all of the Ricotta mixture and top with another layer of the noodles. Lightly press, with your hands, on the top to make sure all the ingredients are nice and level in the dish. Over that last layer of noodles top with the rest of the Bechamel sauce and a final sprinkle of both grated Parmesan and shredded Mozzarella cheeses. Add a sprinkle of dried parsley over the top for color.

Bake uncovered at 375 degrees F. for 45 minutes until the top is browned and the sauce is bubbly and hot. Once out of the oven, let rest at room temperature for at least 20 minutes. Serve hot.

Directions For Reheating Refrigerated Lasagna:Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Pour between 2 tablespoons or 1/4 cup of water over the lasagna (depending on its size). Spray the dull side of the foil with non-stick cooking spray. Place the sprayed side down over the lasagna and seal tight around the edges of the baking dish.  Bake for 25 minutes, or until lasagna is hot and bubbly.

Directions For Freezing Fully Cooked Lasagna:
Make sure the lasagna has cooled completely, at least an hour and a half. Wrap the entire baking dish in freezer safe plastic wrap. This ensures there are no gaps in the wrap where air can get in and cause freezer burn. Then place foil over the top. Can keep up to three months.

Directions For Cooking Frozen Lasagna:
Transfer the frozen lasagna to refrigerator 24 hours in advance. Before going into the oven, remove the foil and plastic wrap from the baking dish and replace it with new foil that’s been sprayed with some non-stick cooking spray, on the dull side of the foil.  Add  2 tablespoons or 1/4 cup (depending on the size of the lasagna) of water over the top of the lasagna. Place the sprayed side down over the top, seal the edges tight. This will prevent any cheese from sticking to foil. Place the dish on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees F. for 25-30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

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Lobster Mac And Cheese

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I’m pretty confident in saying, Mac and Cheese is a favorite comfort food for people of all ages. There are so many recipes out there from the classic version to endless variations of the classic. Chorizo and smoked Gouda, or how about butternut squash mac and cheese! The one I like to serve, when entertaining is my Lobster Mac And Cheese. The lobster adds a delicate sweetness, and then complimented by a variety of awesome cheeses that go into my recipe. Let me show you how I make my Lobster Mac And Cheese.

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Equipment:
16 quart stock pot, 9 x 13 casserole dish
yields: 8 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients:
4 cups of lobster meat, large dice (approx. 3- 1 1/2 lb lobsters)
4 tablespoons of unsalted butter
4 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
4 cups of whole milk
1 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1-1/2 teaspoons of freshly cracked black pepper
1 cup of corn (optional)
1 cup of Mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup of Brie cheese, without the rind
2 cups of shredded Fontina cheese ( reserve 1 cup for the top)
3 tablespoon of freshly finely chopped chives
3 tablespoons of freshly chopped tarragon
2-16 ounce packages of cooked just under al-dente Paccheri Rigati ( large rigatoni shaped pasta)
Topping:
4 tablespoons of melted unsalted butter
1-1/2 cups of Panko bread crumbs
3 tablespoons of freshly chopped flat leaf Italian parsley
3/4 cup of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Directions:
Butter casserole dish.
For 1-1/2 pound lobsters, cook time is 15-20 minutes. Note: They need to be a vibrant red color when fully cooked.

Directions On How To Cook A Lobster:
Note: I prefer to cook lobsters one at a time.
Bring a 16 quart pot (a little over half filled) of well salted water up to a rapid  boil. Drop the lobster into the pot, quickly place the lid on. Using a towel, hold the lid in place for just a minute, giving the water a chance to come back up to a boil,  then start the cooking time. After about 15-20 minutes, remove the lobster from the pot and set aside to cool.

Boil 16 ounces of pasta just before the al dente stage, and drain. the pasta will finish cooking during the baking process.

Remove the lobster meat from the tail and claws. Chop the lobster meat into large chunks and place into a bowl.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Next, to make the cheese sauce, melt the butter whisk in the flour in a large saucepan. Cook for 1 minute over medium, heat. Slowly add in the whole milk. Sprinkle in the grated nutmeg, Kosher salt, and black pepper, continuously whisking until sauce becomes thickened and smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the chopped tarragon, finely chopped chives, cheeses, and (optional) corn. Last, add in the cooked lobster meat. Mix until all ingredients are well combined.

Add the cooked pasta into the cheese sauce stirring gently not to break up the pasta. Pour the entire mixture into the buttered casserole dish. Sprinkle the reserved Fontina cheese evenly over the top.

For the crumb topping, add the melted butter to the Panko bread crumbs. Mix in  the Italian flat leaf parsley and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Sprinkle the crumb topping evenly over the top. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.

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Pastitsio

 

Pastitsio (2)

Lately, I’ve been testing a couple of Greek Pastitsio recipes. Pastitsio, Greek-style lasagna is so delicious. Instead of just making one pan, It’s just as easy to make two. You can bet they’ll both get eaten.

Zitoni Lunghi a long tube-shaped pasta used specifically for Pastitsio. I used Bucatini in this dish because it is readily available at local grocery stores. I’d recently visited an International market, about 30 minutes from my home, and found the traditional pasta for this dish (pictures below).

I’m also going to make a few changes to this dish. As you know ground lamb is traditional for this dish. For my Pastitsio, I’ll be making a Bolognese-style sauce filled with vegetables, ground veal, lean ground sirloin, sweet Italian sausage, and a variety of Mediterranean spices. This is going to be a really hearty meat sauce.

Making Pastitsio is a labor of love and usually made on special occasions. There are three components to this dish, first the pasta, the meat sauce, and finally the Bechamel.

Let’s get started.

Pastitsio

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Oregano

Thyme

Thyme

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Pastitsio

Pastitsio (2)

Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time:  2 hours 10 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 50 minutes
Yields: 18 servings
Equipment: 6-quart saucepot, 6-quart braising pot with a lid (Dutch oven) 3-quart saucepot, 2-9 x 11 deep-sided ceramic baking dishes, 10-cup food processor, 2 medium-size mixing bowls, 2 large mixing bowls, large slotted spoon, whisk, tongs

Ingredients For Meat Sauce:
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 large yellow onion, processed
1 red bell pepper, processed
1 yellow bell pepper, processed
1 Fresno chili, seeded and processed
1 Poblano pepper, seeded and processed
1 medium-size carrot, peeled diced and processed
5 cloves of garlic, processed
1 pound of sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 pound of lean ground beef
2 pounds of ground veal
1 cup of Cabernet Sauvignon
1 1/2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon of dried oregano
1 tablespoon of chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons of fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons of fresh oregano leaves
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes with their juice
1 stick of unsalted butter, reserve some for greasing the baking dish

Ingredients For Bechamel Sauce:
2 cups of whole milk
1 1/2 cups of heavy cream
2 sticks of unsalted butter
4 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
1/2 a teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/2 a teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper
3 cups of grated Pecorino cheese (1 1/2 cups for the Bechamel, 1 cup to toss with the pasta, 1/2 a cup for the topping)
2 extra-large beaten eggs
1 cup of Greek yogurt, room temperature
2 tablespoons of finely chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley plus extra for garnish
2 pounds of Zitoni Lunghi (300 Ziti), substitute ziti

Directions:
Start with grating the cheese. Dice up the Pecorino cheese and add it to a food processor. Pulse until cheese is processed, as seen in the pictures above. Transfer the grated cheese to a small plastic container with a tight-fitting lid. Set aside.

Next, is to prep all the vegetables.
First, remove all the seeds from all the peppers including the Fresno chili, then roughly chop. Set aside. Peel and roughly chop the garlic and onion, set aside. Peel and chop the carrot into 1 1/2-inch dice, set aside. Clean then quarter the mushrooms.

Start by processing the mushrooms, then the onions and garlic together, next, the diced carrots, and finally all the peppers. Transfer the processed vegetables to a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

In a 6-quart braising pot (Dutch oven) over medium-high heat add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the sweet Italian sausage. Break up the sausage with the back of a wooden spoon. Next, add the ground sirloin and ground veal. Stirring occasionally, allowing all the meat to brown until there is no longer any pink, around 20 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon to drain any excess fat, transfer the cooked meat to a large mixing bowl and set aside. Discard any fat left in the pot.

Using the same pot over medium heat add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. To the oil add the dried oregano, ground cumin, ground cinnamon, and cayenne pepper, allowing the spices to *bloom and become fragrant about 1 minute. Next, add the processed vegetables Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, stir to combine. Tun the heat up to medium-high, add the wine. Allow the wine to come up to a boil, lower the heat to medium-low and simmer until the wine reduces by half, 5 minutes.

Adjust the heat to medium, add the browned meat back into the pot, stir to combine. Add the crushed tomatoes with their juice. Stirring occasionally, simmer for another 45 minutes. Halfway through taste for seasoning. This is the perfect time to add a light sprinkling of Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper if needed. Once the sauce is done finish by adding fresh oregano and thyme leaves, stir to combine. Turn the heat off and cover to keep warm.

Next step is to *scald the milk/cream mixture.
In a 3-quart saucepot over medium heat bring the milk and heavy cream to just below the boiling point.

Making the *roux for the Bechamel sauce.
In a 6-quart pot over medium heat melt 1/2 a stick of butter. Add in the all-purpose flour vigorously whisking until the mixture becomes a paste cooks and bubbles a bit, but don’t let it brown, about 2 minutes. Slowly add the scalded milk/cream mixture to the *roux continuously whisking. Bring to a boil. Switch to a wooden spoon, add Kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, and freshly grated nutmeg. Lower the heat, and cook, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes more or until mixture coats the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat.

Add 1 full ladle of the meat sauce, stir to combine. Allow the Bechame sauce to cool completely.

Once the Bechamel has cooled, add the beaten eggs, the room temperature Greek yogurt, and 1 1/2 cups of freshly grated Pecorino cheese, whisk to combine. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350-degrees F.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the Ziti (Zitoni) pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain the pasta really well.

Well, that’s the last of the components for this dish. Now it’s time to put this bad boy together.

Use half a stick of butter to butter both baking dishes, sides included.

For the first layer, divide and arrange the hot pasta (as seen in the picture above) equally between the two buttered baking dishes. Add 4 tablespoons of softened butter to the pasta. Using a pair of tongs, gently toss allowing the butter to coat all the pasta. Next, add the Pecorino cheese, once again, gently toss to coat. Repeat for the second baking dish.

For the second layer, (equally, divide) ladle the Bolognese sauce over the pasta.

For the final layer, (equally, divide) ladle the Bechamel sauce over the Bolognese.

Sprinkle a good helping of the freshly grated Pecorino cheese over the top of each dish. Transfer the baking dishes to the middle rack, in the oven, and bake for 1 hour until bubbly and the top forms a golden-brown crust.

Sprinkle freshly chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley over the top.

Allow the Pastitsio to rest for at least 15 minutes to set before cutting.

Freezing Baked Pastitsio:
Let cool completely, wrap in foil, then again in plastic wrap really tightly. Label and date them so you can have Pastitsio any time you like. When you ready, place a pan into the frig to thaw overnight. Next, remove the foil and plastic wrap. Take a new piece of foil and lightly spray, the dull side, with a non-stick cooking spray.  This will prevent the cheese topping from sticking to the foil. Preheat the oven to 350-degrees F. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until hot all the way through. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes or until bubbly and the Bechamel top is lightly golden.

*Bloom is the process of gently frying them in oil and is a quick way to deepen their flavor.
*Roux is a mixture of fat (especially butter) and flour used in making sauces.
*Scalded milk is milk heated to just under the boiling point. This happens when you see small bubbles appear around the inner rim of the pot.

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