Let's Dish With Linda Lou

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Wild Mushroom And Spinach Lasagna

Wid Mushroom And Spinach Lasagna (2)

Wid Mushroom And Spinach Lasagna (3)

Wild Mushroom And Spinach Lasagna (9)

My Wild Mushroom And Spinach Lasagna dish 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 take comfort food to a whole other level.

My Wild Mushroom And Spinach Lasagna video will 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. To keep the video short and sweet, I decided to prepare all the components for the lasagna in advance. While generally going through the steps the video really concentrates on the assembly and the cooking process.

The top picture is after it’s 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)

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Shitake Mushrooms (2)

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Cremini Mushrooms (2)

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Portobello Mushroms

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Flat Leaf Italian Parsley

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Wild Mushroom And Spinach Lasagna (10)

Wild Mushroom And Spinach Lasagna (2)

Wild Mushroom And Spinach Lasagna (1)

Wild Mushroom And Spinach Lasagna (3)

Wild Mushroom And Spinach Lasagna (4)

Wild Mushroom And Spinach Lasagna (6)

Wild Mushroom And Spinach Lasagna (7)

Wild Mushroom And Spinach Lasagna (5)

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Wid Mushroom And Spinach Lasagna (2)

Wid Mushroom And Spinach Lasagna (3)

Wild Mushroom And Spinach Lasagna (8)

Wild Mushroom And Spinach Lasagna (9)

Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Yields: 12 servings
Equipment: 3-quart baking dish (15″ x 9 1/2″ x 2 1/2″ high), 6-quart saucepot, 3 large mixing  bowls, medium-size bowl, Rondeau (large deep-sided frying pan), chef’s knife, Microplane

Ingredients:
2 boxes of dried oven-ready lasagna noodles ( you may only need a little over 1 box)
2 sticks of butter, unsalted, 1 stick for Bechamel sauce, 3 tablespoons for mushrooms, the remainder for greasing the baking dish
2 tablespoons of olive oil
4 cups whole milk
2 (10-ounce) packages of thawed, drained spinach, remove any excess water
3/4 (24 ounces) of 1 (32-ounce) container of whole milk Ricotta cheese
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt (for Ricotta mixture)
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper (for Ricotta mixture)
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 large package of fresh Mozzarella, slice into 14 rounds
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg, freshly ground
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated
1 cup (8 ounces) of store-bought low moisture shredded Mozzarella
1/4 cup of fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley finely chopped for Ricotta mixture, plus 2 tablespoons of Italian flat-leaf parsley for garnish

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons butter, unsalted
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon of fresh Thyme leaves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
Note: approx. 1 1/2 pounds of mushrooms in total.
2 large Portobello mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 pint of white Button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
2 pints of Cremini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
5 Oyster mushrooms, cleaned, central stem removed and discarded
6 Trumpet mushrooms, bottom tip removed, then sliced into 2-inch pieces
10 Shitake mushrooms, cleaned, stems removed and discarded, caps sliced
3 tablespoons garlic, minced
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons of Kosher salt
1/4 cup beef stock, unsalted, substitute vegetable stock or a good red wine

Directions For Sautèed Wild Mushrooms:
In a large deep-sided frying pan (if you don’t have one of these pans, sauté your mushrooms in two batches, about 5 minutes per batch) over medium heat, melt butter, and olive oil then add in fresh and dried thyme. Next, add the mushrooms, tossing and stirring continuously. As the mushrooms cook they’ll start to release their water.

Add in the minced garlic and black pepper, again, stirring occasionally.  Once all their water has evaporated, there will be mushroom bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add the beef stock and scrape all those delicious bits up using a wooden spoon. Once the mushrooms have really started to brown, this is when you want to salt the mushrooms. Continue stirring and allow the mushrooms to cook, absorbing the remainder of the beef broth and become tender about 10 minutes. Serve hot.

Directions For Spinach:
Defrost 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 a bowl. Set aside.

Directions For Cheeses:
Place store-bought shredded Mozzarella cheese in a bowl and set aside. Chop up the Parmigiano-Reggiano 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 the 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, freshly ground black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground nutmeg. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking for 3 to 5 minutes, until thick. Double-check the thickness of the Bechamel sauce by dipping a wooden spoon into the sauce. Take your finger and make a line down the back of the spoon, if the sauce stays separated and doesn’t run together, the sauce is ready. Immediately transfer to a large bowl. Place plastic wrap directly over the sauce, preventing a skin from forming, and set aside.

Assembling Lasagna:
Preheat
 oven to 375-degrees F.
Spread some of the sauce in the bottom of the buttered baking dish. Arrange a layer of oven-ready noodles on top, then ladle more Bechamel sauce. Sprinkle both grated Parmesan and shredded  Mozzarella cheeses. Next, add half the spinach and mushrooms. To that, add the fresh Mozzarella slices.  Repeat this process once more. Next, add all of the Ricotta mixtures 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 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. It can keep up to three months.

Directions For Cooking Frozen Lasagna:
Transfer the frozen lasagna to the refrigerator 24 hours in advance.
Preheat oven to 425-degrees F.
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 for 25 to 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Catch my YouTube channel at http://www.YouTube.com/Linda Lou Hamel

Sautèed Wild Mushrooms

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Spanakopita With Sweet Italian Sausage

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For the entrée, I made Spanakopita With Sweet Italian Sausage. I bought a beautiful Ciabatta baguette. I love to pile spoonfuls of the Greek Village Salad on top of slices of the toasted baguette bread.  I could eat this “village salad” every day and never think twice!

For the dressing, a simple Greek Vinaigrette served on the side. The reason for this is, the salad stays crisp and it allows all the ingredients to keep their integrity. If you have extra dressing, store the leftover a jar with a tight-fitting lid.

After the salads were plated, I drizzled a couple of spoonfuls of the vinaigrette over top and then tossed. The vinaigrette is super flavorful and ties the whole salad together.

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The Greek salad, also known as the Greek Village Salad (Horiatiki), is made with no leafy greens or lettuce. Trust me when I say, “You won’t miss the lettuce!” There are so many flavors, textures, and colors working together to make this salad a winner. It’s healthy, light,  and super satisfying.

While visiting Steve’s mom, I asked her, “If you could go anywhere, in the world, for dinner, where would you like to go.” Her answer, “Greece!” Today we’re having Spanakopita With A Greek Village Salad, but with a twist.

This is not exactly your traditional Spanakopita. I’m going to be adding sweet Italian sausage to the filling.

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Prep Time: 1 hour
Inactive Prep Time: 24 hours
Cook Time: 30 to 35 minutes
Total Time: 25 hours 35 minutes
Yields: 12 Spanakopita (entrée size)
Equipment:  2 rimmed baking sheet pan, cheesecloth, a fine-mesh sieve, large mixing bowl, medium-size mixing bowl, small mixing bowl, large rubber spatula, small saucepot, pastry brush, 8-ounce jelly jar with a tight-fitting lid

Ingredients For Spanakopita:
1 pound of sweet Italian sausage (5 links), casings removed (OPTIONAL)
2 (10-ounce) boxes of frozen spinach (thawed and drained of excess water)
1 onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon of fresh nutmeg, freshly grated
3 sprigs (2 teaspoons) of marjoram or oregano leaves, finely chopped
3 sprigs (2 teaspoons) of fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
4 fronds of fresh dill, finely chopped
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 large eggs, beaten
1 lemon, seated and juiced
3 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1 (4-ounce) package of Goat cheese, crumbled
1 (7-ounce) package of Feta cheese, cubed
2 packages of Phyllo dough sheets (24 sheets)
1 1/2 sticks of butter, unsalted and melted
1 cup of seasoned Italian bread crumbs

The Day Before…
Start by thawing the frozen spinach. Place the spinach into a fine-mesh sieve, fitted with a piece of cheesecloth, set on top of a medium-size mixing bowl on the counter overnight.

The Day of…
Gather the cheesecloth together and squeeze as much of the water out of the spinach as possible. Transfer the spinach to a large mixing bowl and set aside.

In a large dry sauté pan on medium-high heat, add sweet Italian sausage. Start breaking the sausage up with the back of a wooden spoon. Once the sausage is browned, about 10 to 15 minutes, add the diced onion, minced garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, freshly grated nutmeg, Kosher salt, and black pepper. Continue cooking until the onions have softened, another 5 to 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, leaving as much of the grease in the pan, transfer the sausage mixture into the bowl with the spinach.

In a small saucepot, over medium-low heat melt the butter. Add the breadcrumbs to a small mixing bowl. Set aside.

In a small bowl lightly beat the eggs. Add the beaten eggs to the cooled sausage and spinach mixture. Add the Goat cheese, grated Parmesan, and Feta cheese to the sausage and spinach mixture. Using a large rubber spatula, gently mix to combine. Set aside.

Remove the phyllo dough from the refrigerator. Carefully unfold the sheets of phyllo dough laying them on a flat surface covered with a damp towel.

Directions For Spanakopita:
Preheat oven to 375-degrees F.
Carefully peel one sheet of phyllo dough from the stack and arrange on a work surface with the short nearest you (keep the remaining sheets of dough covered). Using a pastry brush, brush with melted butter and sprinkle breadcrumbs evenly over the entire sheet of dough. Repeat the process by laying a second sheet of phyllo dough over the first sheet. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with breadcrumbs until 4 sheets are completed.

Cut the sheets of phyllo in half lengthwise, making two large strips. On the first strip, place 1/3 cup of the filling on the shorter end, nearest you, then fold the corner of phyllo over to enclose the filling and form a triangle shape. Continue folding strip up (like a flag) maintaining a triangle shape until you reach the end of the sheet. The filling should be totally enclosed. Repeat this process with the second strip.

Repeat these steps until all the phyllo dough and filling are used.

Place the filled pastries, seam-side down onto a rimmed baking sheet pan. Brush with melted butter, sprinkle with seasoned breadcrumbs. Sprinkle each one with a pinch of Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until phyllo is golden and crisp. Transfer to a rack to cool slightly. There you have it my Spanakopita With Sweet Italian Sausage.

Note: Pastry triangles can be formed, but not baked, 3 days ahead. Arrange in one layer in a large heavy-duty sealed plastic baggie, then freeze. Bake frozen pastries (DO NOT THAW) in the same manner as above.

Greek Village Salad

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Italian Wedding Soup-Two Ways

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The name, Italian Wedding Soup, stemmed from the combining of meat with pasta. Growing up, in my home, pasta was served separately from the meat dish.

This post will show you everything you need to know about how I make this soup. My secret ingredient, for the most flavorful meatballs, is fresh basil pesto. Surprised!, don’t be, when you break down the ingredients in basil pesto, you’ll find that most of those ingredients are in my meatballs anyway.

I have done variations of my Italian Wedding Soup like, instead of small pasta, I’ve used mini cheese ravioli. It’s a really delicious way to give an extra surprise to the dish.

I think whenever you’re making a recipe that calls for meatballs, it’s important that they are tender and full of flavor.

My basic recipe for meatballs is always the same, whether using ground beef, pork, turkey, or chicken. The exceptions are when I make a Greek or Asian dish that calls for meatballs. That’s a story for another time.

I’m going to show you two versions. One made with a short cut pasta called Ditalini, the other  I’m using mini cheese ravioli.

What’s great about making extra is, you can freeze the soup for another time. First label and date the bags. Whenever I freeze a completed soup, I let the soup come to room temperature, transfer the soup into gallon zip lock bags. Release as much of the air as possible, then close the bag. Lay the bag out onto a sheet pan in the freezer. Once frozen, remove the sheet pan and you can stack the bags of soup to utilize freezer space.

I’m also making a double batch of meatballs to show both versions of my Italian Wedding Soup-Two Ways.

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Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 50 to 60 minutes (per pot)
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes (per pot)
Yields: 30 meatballs (15 meatballs per pot)
Yields:  4 to 6 servings per pot
Equipment: 2 (6-quart) heavy-bottom saucepots,  large mixing bowl, cookie-dough scoop, 2 rimmed baking sheet pans, parchment paper, chef’s knife

Note: For one pot, use half the meatballs. After the meatballs are cooked allow half of them (15 meatballs) to come to room temperature. Place into a resealable zip-lock bag and transfer to the freezer.

Ingredients For Chicken Meatballs:
3 pounds of ground chicken
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 (7-ounce) container of store-bought fresh basil pesto (use 1/4 cup for this recipe)
1/4 cup heavy cream
3 large eggs
3 cloves of freshly grated garlic
2 tablespoons of Ketchup
5 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon of fennel seeds
1/4 cup of Parmigiano- Reggiano, freshly grated (reserve the rind)
2 cups of Italian bread crumbs
2 tablespoons of dried oregano
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 tablespoons Kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup of Italian flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

Note: Cut the recipe in half for one pot of soup, with the exception of the pasta. Choose which pasta you want to use. Use only 1 1/2 pounds of ground chicken for 15 meatballs.

Ingredients For Soup:
4 tablespoons olive oil (2 per pot)
2 cups of onions, diced and divided
2 cups of leafy-top carrots, diced and divided
2 cups of celery, diced (include leafy tops) and divided
4 cloves of garlic, minced and divided
2 tablespoons Kosher salt, divided
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, divided
4 quarts plus 4 cups of chicken stock, unsalted and divided
2 1/2 cups of Ditalini pasta (short cut tube-shaped pasta in one pot)
1 (24-ounce) package of mini cheese ravioli ( in the other pot)
2 (10-ounce) packages of frozen spinach, thawed and divided

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375-degrees F.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Spray the parchment paper, of each pan, with a light coating of non-stick cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl and add all the ingredients (except the ground chicken) for the meatballs. Once everything is in the bowl mix to combine. You want the flavorings to have the consistency of wet sand. Next, add the ground meat to the bowl. Using a fork, evenly distribute the flavorings throughout the ground chicken. It may take a few minutes but it’s so worth it for your meatballs to be light and tender.

Using a cookie-dough scoop ensures the meatballs will be the same size. Scoop the meat mixture into your hands forming a ball. Continue until all the meatball mixture is finished.

Arrange the meatballs onto two baking sheet pans with space between each one. Lightly spray the tops of the meatballs with non-stick cooking spray to ensure they will brown evenly. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.

In the meantime prep the *Mirepoix for the soup. Dice the carrots, celery, and onions. Finish by mincing the garlic. Evenly divided, transfer them to two separate plates. This should take about 15 to 20 minutes to complete. Set aside.

Preheat both stockpots over medium heat. To each stockpot add olive oil and crushed red pepper flakes, carrots, celery, garlic, onions, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper. Stir to combine. Stirring occasionally, cook for 7 to 10 minutes or until vegetables begin to soften.

Next, add the chicken stock to each pot. If you have the cheese rind, leftover from grating the cheese, go ahead and throw that into your pot(s). Bring the soup up to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer. for 10 minutes.

At this point, the meatballs will be ready to come out of the oven. Add the meatballs to the pot(s) very carefully. Simmer over medium-low heat for another 15 minutes.

Now it’s time to add the (Ditalini, and the mini cheese ravioli) pasta. Carefully give the pasta a big stir. Cook for another 8 to 10 minutes. Once the pasta floats to the top, it’s time to add the thawed spinach. Again, carefully give the spinach a good stir to incorporate it throughout the soup. Turn the heat off and cover until you’re ready to serve. Italian Wedding Soup-Two Ways.

Tip: If you’re only going to use half of the meatballs, let them come to room temperature. Next, place them in the frig for 30 minutes to chill. Label and date the ziplock freezer bag before transferring them to the bag. Release as much of the air as possible, close it up, and place it into the freezer.

*Mirepoix: The standard base for most soups consisting of celery, carrots, and onions.

Nominated “Best Italian Wedding Soup Recipes”

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