Wednesday, September 22, 2010

like the deserts miss the rain

I'm taking a break from the Katy Perry food blogging to contribute to Week 1 of Fall Fest: Spinach. It's not that I'm dead on ideas for the last song on Katy's record; actually far from it - I've got ideas galore. Just haven't had the time or the right combination of ingredients in the house. Will get to it soon - hopefully this weekend!

We've been in a bit of a red meat detox since the beginning of football season. And by "we," I mean "I." I eat terribly on the weekends (Week 1: bacon-wrapped hot dogs and sausage sandwiches; Week 2: hot wings and rib-eyes), and by the time Tuesday morning rolls around, I wake up wondering how I'm not in cardiac arrest.

Not that lasagna is the greatest way to avoid cardiac arrest, but this Spinach + Black Olive Lasagna feels positively ethereal by normal lasagna standards. I made a few filling substitutions, but nothing major:

Spinach + Black Olive Lasagna

1 box no-boil lasagna noodles
2 T. olive oil
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 14-oz. cans diced tomatoes
1 t. dried basil
1 t. dried oregeno
1/4 t. red pepper flakes
1/2 c. sliced black olives
1 15 oz. container ricotta
1/4 c. Parmesan
1/4 c. olive tapanade
1 egg
24 oz. fresh spinach, cooked
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 lb. fresh mozzarella, grated

1. Saute the onion in 1 T. of olive oil. Add some salt. Let the onions get soft and develop a bit of color, then add the garlic and cook for one minute more. Add the canned tomatoes and dry herbs. Bring to a boil and let simmer.

2. Meanwhile, saute the mushrooms and bell pepper in the other T. of olive oil. When soft and slightly golden, set aside.

3. Add red pepper flakes, olives and wine to the sauce. Taste. Adjust any seasonings. Continue to simmer.

4. Combine the ricotta, Parmesan, olive tapanade and egg. Add a bit of salt and pepper. Set aside.

5. Mix spinach with cooked mushrooms and bell pepper. Set aside.

6. To assemble, start with sauce in a 13x9-inch pan, and arrange noodles, vegetables, ricotta and mozzarella in your preferred order. End with noodles, sauce and mozzarella.

7. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 45 – 50 minutes.

It was so light, I almost didn't feel right calling it "lasagna." It's just so tied in to luscious meat sauce that I truly felt I was missing out. Don't get me wrong - it was delicious, but I still felt kind of empty after eating it. I think it'd go great as a side to meatloaf. :)

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