This was a delicious and easy lasagna although not much quicker than my usual. I’ve never used cream cheese in a lasagna before and I’m sure it will make purists sniff with disdain but hey, it works. I made the vegetarian version with mushrooms and spinach as well as Pam’s “Simple Marinara.” She offers the option of using a jar of “good quality marinara sauce” but when all you have to do to make your own is heat a little olive oil and garlic in a pan and add a can of crushed tomatoes, why take the shortcut? You’re going to spend the minimal time saved reading the ingredients of all the jars to make sure you’re not getting one loaded with sugar and other undesirable elements. I incorporated the “homemade” marinara into this recipe because that’s how highly I think of all of you.
In addition to this version she also includes one for chicken and seafood.
Quick, Creamy, Mushroom-Spinach Lasagna
Adapated from Perfect One-Dish Dinners, by Pam Anderson
15 oven-ready lasagna noodles
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 lb. sliced mushrooms
2 10-oz. packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1-1/2 teaspoon dried basil
12 oz. cream cheese, softened, divided
1/2 cup vegetable broth
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
4 cups (1 lb.) grated part-skim or whole-milk mozzarella cheese, divided
3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Dissolve 1-1/2 tablespoons salt in a 9″x13″ glass lasanga pan and fill with very hot tap water. Add noodles and soak until softened, about 10 minutes. Drain in a colander.
Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, until tender and well browned, 5-7 minutes. Add spinach and continue to cook, stirring and seasoning with salt and pepper to taste, until heated through. Transfer to a medium bowl.
Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil and garlic in a saucepan over medium-high heat. When garlic starts to sizzle, add tomatoes and enough water to make a sauce that is neither too thin nor too thick [I just realized I forgot to do this so I don’t think you need too much water]. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium-low, and continue to simmer, partially covered, to blend flavors, about 10 minutes.
Mix mushroom-spinach mixture with basil, 8 oz. of the cream cheese and 1/4 cup broth. Mix remaining 4 oz. cream cheese with remaining 1/4 cup broth in a small bowl; set aside.
To assemble: smear 1/4 cup marinara sauce over bottom of baking dish, then assemble 4 layers as follows:
3 lasagna noodles
scant cup marinara
scant cup mushroom-spinach mixture
3/4 cup mozzarella
2 tablespoons Parmesan
Top with remaining 3 noodles, cream-cheese broth mixture, remaining 1 cup mozzarella, and remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan.
Spray one side of a large sheet of heavy-duty foil with cooking spray. Cover baking dish with foil, oiled side down, and bake until bubbly throughout, 40-45 minutes. Leaving lasagna on same rack, turn oven to broil. Remove foil and broil until lasagna is spotty brown, 4-5 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes. Cut into squares and serve.