vegetable lasagna (mushroom and spinach)

Summer pasta dishes are often lighter when served during the summer months.  We prefer to eat less pasta during the summer overall, but sometimes the selection of summer vegetables encourages me to add them to even more main dishes than in the winter.  This recipe is one of my favorites when summer vegetables are ready for being the main attraction.

Here is how I made this dish:

In a large skillet, add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and add these ingredients:  one medium chopped white onion, about 3-4 large carrots cleaned and chopped into smaller size pieces, and 3-4 stalks of celery diced.  After cooking down for a few minutes, add 1 tablespoon minced garlic and 2 tablespoon tomato paste.  Cook together.

Next add about 15 chopped white mushrooms, which have been cleaned well.  Add salt and pepper to the mixture, while cooking at least 5 more minutes until the mushrooms cook down.  Next, add one 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes.  Heat until all ingredients are well blended and warm.

While these ingredients are cooking, make the cheese layer for the lasagna.  I used 5 ounces of shredded Parmesan cheese, mixed with 8 ounces of shredded mozzarella cheese, 8 ounces of ricotta cheese, one egg, and one drained and squeezed box of frozen spinach.  All of these ingredients will mix well into a bowl and be ready for the layering process.

In a large 13 by 9 by 2 inch baking dish, use some of the tomato mixture to line the bottom of the pan. Next add 3-4 no-cook dry lasagna noodles.  For the next layer, add tablespoons of the cheese mixture over the noodles and spread to form a layer.  Next add another layer of tomato sauce, and noodles, and cheese.  Layer until the ingredients are used fully. Make sure the top layer of the lasagna is the tomato sauce. For the final topping to the lasagna, I added more shredded mozzarella, fontina, and Parmesan cheese.

Baking directions:   For the first half of the baking time, cover the dish with tin foil completely.  For the second half of the baking time, remove the foil.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 50 minutes.

Summer variations:  Use fresh chopped tomatoes, Use fresh spinach which has been sautéed down in a skillet prior to adding to this dish, Use fresh onions of all types, Use fresh chopped zucchini.  Many fresh herbs can be used. Some of my favorites are fresh oregano, parsley, thyme, chives and sage. A variety of mushrooms can also be used.

Cheese variations:  Fontina cheese is delicious in this recipe.  Fresh mozzarella can also be used.

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