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Originally published Monday, December 16, 2013 at 6:06 AM

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Holiday Recipes: Lasagnas

Plan your holiday feast with treasured recipes from The Seattle Times archives and its storied test kitchen. Today you’ll find lasagnas to feed a crowd.


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SPINACH AND FETA LASAGNA

Serves 12

Spinach filling:

2 pounds spinach, washed and trimmed

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 small onion, peeled and diced

1 clove garlic, peeled and minced

1 cup low-fat ricotta cheese

½ cup crumbled feta cheese

½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 egg

1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Tomato sauce:

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 small onion, peeled and finely diced

1 clove garlic, peeled and minced

2 cups tomato sauce

1 tablespoon tomato paste

¼ cup dry white wine

½ teaspoon dried oregano, crushed

Noodles and topping:

1 teaspoon olive oil

16 spinach lasagna noodles

½ cup crumbled feta cheese

½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

1. To prepare the filling: Bring a large pot of water to the boil, add the spinach and cook for three minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water to stop the cooking, and drain again. Press excess liquid out of the spinach and spread out on paper towels.

2. Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat, add the onion and garlic and saute for five minutes.

3. Place the spinach and the onion mixture in a food processor and purée. Add the ricotta, feta, Parmesan, egg, oregano and pepper; process until smooth, transfer to a bowl and set aside.

4. To prepare the sauce: Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic; saute for five minutes. Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, wine and oregano; bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Set aside.

5. To prepare the noodles: Bring a large pan of water to the boil with the teaspoon of olive oil. Add the lasagna noodles and cook according to package directions. Drain and rinse briefly with cold water; separate the noodles.

6. To assemble the lasagna: Spread a thin coat of the sauce over the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Top with a layer of the noodles running the length of the dish. Spread with half of the spinach mixture and a third of the sauce. Cover with a second layer of the noodles running across the dish, the remaining spinach filling, and another layer of the sauce. Top with the remainder of the noodles and spread with the remaining sauce. Sprinkle with the feta, Parmesan and parsley.

7. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 40 minutes. Let the lasagna rest for 10 minutes before cutting.

— From The Seattle Times Archives, 1993

HOLIDAY MUSHROOM-THREE CHEESE LASAGNA

16 pieces

Béchamel sauce:

2½ tablespoons butter or margarine

2½ tablespoons flour

2½ cups low-fat milk, heated until hot

¼ teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 / 8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Pinch cayenne pepper

Lasagna:

1½ pounds cremini or white-button mushrooms, wiped clean, stem ends trimmed, thinly sliced

3 teaspoons olive oil, divided

2 teaspoons butter or margarine, divided

1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped

2 medium cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced

1 small red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped

1 (14½-ounce) peeled and diced tomatoes in purée

1 (14½-ounce) peeled and diced tomatoes, undrained

1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary

1 tablespoon minced fresh sage

¼ teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 / 8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley

8 sheets instant lasagna noodles

4 cups shredded mixed mozzarella and provolone cheeses

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. To prepare the béchamel sauce: In a medium-size heavy saucepan, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and cook two minutes. Whisk in the hot milk, salt, pepper, nutmeg and cayenne. Cook, whisking often, until thickened, about five minutes. Set aside.

2. Prepare the mushrooms. In a large skillet set over medium-high heat, combine 1 teaspoon each olive oil and butter; heat until foamy. Saute half of the mushrooms at a time until cooked through. Remove from the pan and repeat with another teaspoon olive oil and butter and the remaining mushrooms. Remove from the pan.

3. Reduce the heat to medium. In the same skillet, heat the remaining teaspoon olive oil. Add the onion, garlic and bell pepper; saute five minutes. Stir in both cans of tomatoes, rosemary, sage, salt, several grindings black pepper and cayenne. Simmer five minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and continue to simmer five minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley.

4. Spray a 9-by-13-inch pan with vegetable cooking spray, or lightly oil. Break two of the lasagna sheets into smaller pieces. Combine the cheeses.

5. Spread a thin layer of the mushroom sauce in the bottom of the pan. Lay two whole lasagna sheets on top and a few of the smaller lasagna pieces to fill in the spaces. Top with half of the remaining mushroom sauce; sprinkle with a third of the cheeses. Repeat the layers. Top with the remaining layer of noodles. Spread the béchamel sauce over the noodles and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. (The lasagna can be made in advance. Cover and refrigerate overnight.)

6. Remove lasagna from refrigerator an hour before baking. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake, covered with aluminum foil, 15 minutes. Uncover and continue baking 30 minutes. Let sit 10 minutes before cutting.

— From The Seattle Times archives, 1995

CHICKEN LASAGNA WITH SMOKED MOZZARELLA

Serves 6 to 8

Nonstick or olive oil spray

1 container (about 15 ounces) ricotta cheese

8 ounces smoked mozzarella, coarsely shredded

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1 jar (24 to 26 ounces) marinara sauce

½ cup water

1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce

9 no-boil lasagna noodles (an 8-ounce box contains 12)

8 ounces (about 2 cups) cooked chicken, (rotisserie or homemade) shredded

½ cup shredded Pecorino-Romano cheese

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 13-by-10-inch baking dish lightly and set aside. In a medium bowl, mix ricotta, smoked mozzarella, salt and pepper. Set aside.

2. Combine marinara, water and tomato sauce. Pour some sauce in the prepared baking dish so it covers bottom of dish. Place three noodles on top. Spread with another layer of sauce, and top with a third of the ricotta mixture and a third of the chicken. Repeat layers twice more, beginning with a layer of noodles and ending with a layer of sauce.

3. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake 45 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with Romano cheese and bake another 15 minutes. Remove from oven, drizzle top with olive oil and let rest 15 minutes before cutting.

Note: Resting the lasagna before cutting allows the steam trapped inside to be absorbed into the pasta layers, causing the pasta to plump and soften more. Since there is less unabsorbed water, the center is drier and the lasagna is less likely to ooze and fall apart.

— Adapted by The Seattle Times in 2007 from “Homemade in a Hurry: More than 300 Shortcut Recipes for Delicious Home-Cooked Meals” by Andrew Schloss



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