Posts tagged mushrooms

The best way to smuggle… spinach

In just the same way that a vegie, is a veggie, is a vege – you can get chard, silverbeet and the true English spinach and they can generally be interchangeable in most recipes. All are in season during the winter months and contain huge amounts of vitamins C, K, iron and nearly every mineral known to man.

So which spinach to use? Generally any of them can be used in recipes (except for salads, where the light English or baby spinach leaves are best), they’ll just need different preparations.

Frozen spinach just needs to be thawed (the microwave works ok for this) and the excess moisture squeezed out. The thick leaves of fresh chard and silverbeet need to be dunked in boiling water for a minute or two then drained and chopped. English spinach can just be chopped and chucked in.

For this recipe, I like to buy a bunch of fresh silverbeet and do the blanching thing. It does add 10 minutes to your prep time, but gives a really fantastic flavour that the kids will love. If the green flecks are going to cause grief for you, use a blender and pulp the spinach and it will hide in the recipe more easily.

I find though, that the amount of cheese in this bechamel-free lasagne overcomes any vegetable obstacles.

The best-ever vegetarian lasagna

This meal hides spinach, carrot, mushrooms and broccoli and I'm not exaggerating when I say that it IS the best ever!

The best-ever vegetarian lasagne

Ingredients
Cooking spray

Tomato sauce
800g can chopped tomatoes
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
¼ cup sliced black olives (optional)
2 cups finely diced vegies (try broccoli, zucchini, mushrooms and carrot)
2 tsp dried Italian herbs
Salt & black pepper

Spinach layer
250g grated mozzarella
300g cottage cheese
150g other cheese of your choice (crumbled feta, grated cheddar, grated parmesan)
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1 egg, lightly whisked
1 bunch silverbeet, blanched and chopped or a frozen 200g box of spinach, thawed, with the excess liquid squeezed out

500g box instant lasagne sheets
Handful grated cheese, for topping

Preheat oven to 180C. Spray a 5-litre lasagne dish with cooking spray.
For the tomato sauce, place all the ingredients in a large saucepan over medium heat. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until the initial crunch is taken out of the vegies and onion. Everything gets baked later, so avoid overcooking at this stage.

For the spinach layer, combine all the ingredients in a large bowl. Use your hands to get everything mixed through well.

Now you’re ready to begin layering. This is the order: enough tomato sauce to cover the bottom of the dish, then pasta (break sheets to cover entire layer), half the spinach, pasta, half the remaining tomato sauce, pasta, rest of the spinach, pasta, rest of the tomato sauce. Did you keep up?

Top with a little more grated cheese and bake for 45 minutes or until golden and YUM.

SERVES 2 ADULTS & 4 KIDS

FREEZING & DEFROSTING
Wrap slices of lasagne in two layers of plastic wrap. Freeze on oven trays to maintain its shape and then transfer to freezer bags. Stores well for 3 months. Reheat by thawing in the fridge for 24-36 hours before microwaving until steaming hot throughout.

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The best way to smuggle… mushrooms (is with a bit of bacon)

So you’ve got a bag of soggy things in the crisper that used to be mushrooms…and you’re keen to get them into the kids because you know that they’re full of anti-oxidants and minerals including selenium (which fights free radicals and is being studied for its anti-cancer properties), but strangely enough, the kids won’t have a bar of them raw or even fried in a tonne of butter. Hmmm, try this magic vegetable slice, which is actually a fantastic ruse to hide pretty much ANY vegie that is clogging up the fridge.

Vegetable slice

Mushrooms?? What mushrooms!!!

Vegetable slice

Canola oil cooking spray
250g bacon, diced
1½ cups diced mushrooms
4 spring onions, finely sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 zucchini, chopped into chunks
1 carrot, peeled, chopped into chunks
½ cup deseeded, chopped red capsicum
Handful of green beans, sliced finely
½ cup self-raising flour
4 eggs, lightly whisked
1 cup grated cheese
Salt & black pepper

Preheat oven to 180C. Spray a lamington tray with cooking spray and line with baking paper.

Heat a small non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add the bacon and mushrooms and cook for 2-3 minutes until partly cooked. Add the spring onion and garlic and cook, stirring, for another minute. Don’t overcook the bacon (it bakes later). Place mixture in a large mixing bowl.

Use a stick blender to blitz the zucchini, carrot, capsicum and beans. As always, don’t blitz to a pulp. If you prefer, chop or grate to have control over the texture. Add to the bacon mixture.

Sift the flour over the top and mix through. Add the eggs and cheese and combine. Season. Pour mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes until set and golden.

Cut into squares. This is delicious with salad and crusty bread.

SERVES 2 ADULTS & 2 KIDS

THE NEXT DAY Serve cold strips of this wrapped in flatbread. Add any leftover meat and extra salad ingredients. Secure the rolled-up wrap with foil.

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