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Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna

 I always wanted to try making lasagna at home but never really got the courage to do. For me it was a very difficult dish to make, till I stumbled upon this book which had Lasagna in its easiest form. It just used instant lasagna sheets,jarred spaghetti sauce, layer it all together,bake and done!! Well of course I did make this once but it inspired me to learn making the sauce from scratch. And of course how can I forget my biggest inspiration for all my cooking ability and experiments..my dear partner for life, my hubby Emil.He is a foodie and loves experimenting different cuisines as well as encourage me to try out new dishes. 

When I finally learnt to make lasagna obviously I used meat, but again during one of the lent season when I craved for something nice and meaty, thought of experimenting with veg lasagna.Mid-way through the Lenten season I am sure all of us are already craving for some meat!! We might be getting a little tired of the usual veg recipes. The lenten season is a good time for many people to make a commitment to healthier eating. This heart filling recipe is awesome when you want healthy as well as yum food. So here's the recipe and this one is specially dedicated to my brother Suraj, who switched to a healthy(Veg) diet..Enjoy :)

Ingredients: For Bechamel Sauce: 
3 cups milk
1 Bay leaf
3 blades mace(optional)
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup flour
Salt and pepper to taste

For Lasagna: 
Instant lasagna sheets(around 7 to 10, depending on the size of your pan)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion finely chopped
1 cup fresh tomatoes finely chopped
1 cup tomato puree
2 cups mushroom sliced(I used white button mushrooms)
2 cups Spinach cut 
1 tbsp garlic paste
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp thyme(Italian seasoning)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

This particular recipe has three parts. Making the bechamel sauce, making the spinach-mushroom mix and assembling all of it together. 

Making Bechamel:
Heat the milk with bay leaf and mace(optional) in a saucepan and keep it aside. In another heavy sauce pan melt butter, add flour and mix it well with butter using a wire whisk cooking it for 2 to 3 min. Strain the hot milk into parts in the flour and butter mixture,combine smoothly with wire whisk. 
Bring the sauce to boil, stirring constantly and cook for another 4-5 min. Season with salt and pepper as required. The consistency of the sauce should be such that it coats the back of a ladle. Remove from heat and set aside. 

Making Spinach-Mushroom Mix: 
Heat oil in a pan and add onions. Saute for a min to get rid of the raw smell. Add fresh garlic paste and saute for another min.Add mushrooms and cook until golden but not brown. Now add fresh spinach to the mixture and saute for a min. Add fresh tomato puree and chopped tomatoes and cook for 4-5 min in simmer. Do not overcook. Finally season the mix with salt, pepper and thyme.Remove from heat and set aside. 

Assembling the Lasagna
Pre-heat oven to 200 degree Celsius/400*F. Coat the lasagna pan with butter. Keep all the elements handy(pasta sheets, bechamel sauce,spinach-mushroom mix and cheese). Spread on large spoonfuls of  bechamel sauce over the bottom of the dish. Arrange a layer of pasta, cutting and trimming the edges to fit well in the pan.The lasagna sheets need well coating on all the sides to lock in the moisture and prevent it from drying.
Add a layer of spinach-mushroom mix covering all the sides of the pan followed by parmesan cheese. Repeat the layer in same order ending with a layer of pasta coated with bechamel and cheese. Try and not make more than 6 layers. Use pasta trimmings to patch up any gaps in the pasta.
Bake for 20 min. Remove from oven and allow to stand for 5 min before serving. If you find it browning early cover with a aluminum foil with slits made(if any excess water it would evaporate) and continue baking.
There you go, its done. Cut down the lasagna and scoop out your part and enjoy the creamy lasagna with chunks of tasty mushrooms with juicy tomatoes.
Hope you will enjoy making it and of course eating!!  


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