Monday, April 23, 2012

Pesto Spinach Lasagna


Pesto spinach lasagna is so mouthwatering that I can’t cook it without snitching fingerfuls of sauce and breadcrumbs before they make it into the finished product. My husband also loves this recipe—it makes tasty leftovers!

      The key is GOOD PESTO. Jar pesto with an acidic taste will ruin it. Fresh pesto is great! If that’s not available, I read online that pestos imported from the “Liguria” region of Italy are best. I looked at Walmart and found “DeLallo’s” which doesn’t contain vinegar or any other acids! This was a life-altering discovery for me, as I previously fasted from pesto during winter months (except on pizza, where acidic pesto tastes fine). Now my food-storage shelf has a pesto section! J

     Anyway, I first saw this Rachael-Ray-inspired recipe on Kitchen Meets Girl blog many months ago and pinned it. Subsequently, my friend Natalie (who’s on Pinterest) brought it to a playgroup I hosted! I’ve made it several times myself now, and changed a couple of ingredients, and added more sauce and breadcrumbs. Okay, it’s not a diet dinner. Or simple. But you’ll enjoy it!!! (And it contains mucho calcium.)


Fave “jar” pesto, shallots, spinach…
Ingredients:


1-1 ½ c. shallots, diced
   (2 small packages from Walmart)
3 cloves garlic, minced
9 Tbsp. margarine, divided
1/3 c. flour
3 c. milk
1/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese (from green can is fine)
1 ½ c. shredded mozzarella cheese
6 Tbsp. fresh or very good pesto
   (my favorite is DeLallo’s—sold at my Walmart)
6 slices bread, toasted
8 oz. lasagna (about 10 noodles)
20 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed
½ tsp. salt, divided
¼ tsp. pepper, divided


Lasagna Noodles:
1. Break 10 noodles in half so you have 20 shorter noodles.

2. Boil according to package instructions (al dente).


Pesto White Sauce:
1. In large frying pan over medium heat, melt 3 Tbsp. margarine and sauté shallots until softened and translucent.

2. Add flour and stir.

3. Gradually add milk ½ cup at a time while whisking (to avoid flour lumps).

4. Continue heating sauce while occasionally whisking until it becomes thickened and bubbly. Let it bubble for a couple of minutes before removing from heat.

5. Add Parmesan cheese, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/8 tsp. pepper, and ¼ c. pesto.


Spinach:
1. In medium frying pan over medium heat, melt 2 Tbsp. margarine and sauté garlic for a few minutes.

2. Add spinach, ¼ tsp. salt, and 1/8 tsp. black pepper. Stir while cooking for a couple more minutes. Remove from heat.


Breadcrumbs:
1. Render toast into crumbs using food processor or some other method.


The kiddos reminded me that they couldn’t hear
  their t.v. show while I did this.
2. In medium frying pan over medium heat, melt 4 Tbsp. margarine.

3. Add breadcrumbs and 2 Tbsp. pesto.

4. Stir for a couple minutes until totally combined, then remove from heat.









Assembly!

1. Preheat oven
     to 400° F.

2. Spray 8 x 8” or 9 x 9” baking dish with cooking spray.
(You can use a small rectangular pan
like 9 x 13 and then you don't need to cut the lasagna noodles in half. Also, bake for only 30 minutes.)

3. Spread ½ c. sauce in bottom of pan.

4. Lay following layers in baking dish…

          1/3 total noodles (~7),
          dipped in pesto white sauce

          ¼ total crumbs (~ ½ c.)

          ½ total spinach

          ¼ c. pesto white sauce

          ½ c. shredded mozzarella

Repeat…

          1/3 total noodles (~7),
          dipped in pesto white sauce

          ¼ total crumbs (~ ½ c.)

          ½ total spinach

          ¼ c. pesto white sauce

          ½ c. shredded mozzarella


Final layers…

          6 noodles, dipped in pesto white sauce

          Remaining pesto white sauce

          Remaining shredded mozzarella (1 c.)

          Remaining crumbs (~ 1 c.)

5. Bake 35 minutes at 400 °F. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.


Out of the oven!
*Nutrition facts:

Ingredient
Calories
Sodium (% RDA)
Fiber (g)
Protein (g)
Calcium (% RDA)
1 c. diced shallots
112
0
0
0
0
9 Tbsp. margarine
630
45
0
0
0
1/3 c. flour
147
0
0
4
0
3 c. fat-free milk
270
15
0
24
90
6 Tbsp. pesto
540
30
0
12
12
6 slices bread
300
24
15
15
105
20 oz. frozen spinach
210
35
7
14
56
8 oz. lasagna noodles
840
0
8
28
0
1 ½ c. park-skim shredded mozzarella cheese
480
54
0
36
120
Total:
3529 kcal
203 %
30 g
133 g
383 %
1/9 pan:
392 kcal
23 %
3 g
15 g
43 %

*Calculated from food packaging and the following website: http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts

I used “Blue Bonnet” margarine, “Bakers & Chefs” (Sams Club) flour and “Stella’s” part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese, “Great Value” (Walmart) brand fat free milk and lasagna noodles, “Kraft” brand grated Parmesan cheese, “DeLallo’s” brand pesto, “Wonder” brand “SmartWhite” bread, and “Bird’s Eye” brand frozen spinach.

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