Creamy Pesto Lasagna with Artichoke Hearts

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Baked Creamy Pesto Lasagna with Artichoke Hearts.

 

Creamy Pesto Lasagna with Artichoke Hearts

Rating 

Serves: 6 portions

Ingredients
  • 1 box lasagna noodles
  • 10 oz frozen spinach OR 2 to 4 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 can quartered artichoke hearts in water (optional)
  • 16 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • ½ t garlic powder
  • ½ t parsley or oregano (optional)
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 to 2 cups onion (one large), diced
  • ½ to 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 8 oz mushrooms (or more), diced
  • 2 cloves garlic OR 2 t minced garlic from jar (+/- for taste)
  • 1 t red pepper flakes (+/- for taste)
  • ¼ t salt (+/- for taste)
  • ¼ t black pepper (+/- for taste)
  • 2 T all purpose flour
  • 1 and ½ cups milk (whole or 2%)
  • 1 and ½ cups half and half milk/cream
  • 1 cup plus 1T pesto, divided (jar of fresh, basil preferred, but any kind you like)
  • 12 oz shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 2 to 4 oz shredded parmesan (optional)
Instructions
  1. For noodle prep: Place noodles in a large baking dish (not the one you will be using for the lasagna) and add about 2 quarts of HOT tap water. Let them sit and soften in this while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. Make sure to move them around every so often so they don’t stick together.
  2. Soften lasagna noodles in 2 quarts of HOT tap water
  3. Prep all other ingredients: Dice all veggies, keep the onions and peppers together, the mushrooms and garlic together.
  4. Chop up the spinach if using fresh. If using frozen spinach, make sure it is completely defrosted and drain excess water with paper towels.
  5. Chopped fresh spinach
  6. Drain water from artichoke hearts, if using.
  7. Pesto. Set pesto out so that it is not ice cold when you put it in the sauce.
  8. Start heating large skillet on medium heat.
  9. In a medium bowl, beat egg then add ricotta, garlic powder, and parsley/oregano and mix well.
  10. Add about half of the shredded mozzarella and half of the shredded parmesan. Set this mixture aside.
  11. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F.
  12. Put 1 T olive oil in heated skillet and add the onions and peppers. Sauté until onions start to turn transparent. Add the mushrooms and garlic and the red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.
  13. Continue to sauté, adding the 1 T butter when the mixture is starting to stick/brown.
  14. Cook until the mushrooms are reduced and onions are transparent. Add 2 T flour and stir, cook for about one minute.
  15. Add the milk and half & half to the skillet and cook stirring occasionally until mixture starts to boil.
  16. Make sure to scrape the bottom of that pan when stirring, as the milk will thicken faster at the bottom and will burn if not scraped. Boil for 1 minute and then remove from heat.
  17. Add the pesto to the sauce and mix thoroughly.
  18. Grease bottom of lasagna pan with the 1T pesto, Yes, pesto!
  19. Layering: Depending on the size of your lasagna pan, you will use a different arrangement of noodles. The pan I use is a little smaller than 9 inches x 13 inches, but is deeper. If you have never made lasagna before you may want to carefully play around with dry noodles, before starting cooking, so you know the best arrangement, as far as how you want them to fit in your pan.
  20. First Layer: Noodles, ⅓ sauce mixture, ricotta mixture.
  21. Second Layer: Noodles, ⅓ sauce mixture, spinach, artichoke hearts, handful of shredded mozzarella.
  22. Third Layer: Noodles, rest of sauce mixture, rest of shredded mozzarella and shredded parmesan.
  23. Cover pan tightly with foil. Bake in center of oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Time will depend upon size of pan used and thickness of lasagna, noodles should have expanded and you should be able to see sauce bubbling a bit at edges.
  24. Remove foil and bake for an additional 15 - 20 minutes, until cheese is browning and sides are bubbling.
  25. Remove from oven and let sit for at least 15 minutes before cutting.

Serve with French bread or sourdough. Serves 12 people or 2 hearty eaters. I try to aim for 6 servings. {Sherry says, my son and my daughter’s boyfriend have been known to eat 3/4 of this at one sitting!}

Tips!

  • Need more sauce? Increase milk and half & half to 2 cups each.
  • Need some meat? Shredded/diced cooked chicken would be wonderful in this, just add it to the sauce mixture.
  • Gluten intolerant? Use gluten free noodles and substitute white flour for gluten free flour [rice or corn]
  • Hate dealing with lasagna noodles? You can make this with any type of noodle really, and make it a pasta bake. Just cook the noodles according to the box, and then combine the three layers into two; you can mix the spinach into the ricotta mixture.

Equipment Needed:

2 large baking dishes (1 for the Lasagna, and 1 for noodle prep)
1 large skillet
Cutting board, two would probably be helpful
Sharp knife
5 or so bowls
Measuring cups, multiple would help
A fork or two
A butter knife
A spatula, or two
A large spoon
A ladle would help with putting the sauce on the layers
A bowl scraper would be nice
You could use a whisk for the egg, but a fork is fine
Cheese shredder, if you buy a block of cheese
Really, you will probably need to do the dishes before and after this affair… I always do.

Recipe Origin:

I was looking for a pesto lasagna dish for my pesto loving vegetarian boyfriend… and I really did not like anything I found. So I mashed up about 4 different recipes. The sauce is almost completely taken from one of those… but I do not remember where I found it. So, sorry to whomever I am borrowing that idea from.
It’s really important to sauté the the veggies just right and to season them properly. I have been in a hurry making this before… and it turned out not tasting as fantastic. Make sure you use medium heat and get the right amount of spice in there with the mushrooms, they suck up all that yummy flavor. The red pepper flakes do not make this spicy, it is a cream based sauce, so any real heat gets dissipated by that. It does however give a very nice undertone of spice that complements the sweet peppers.
~by IoBlue – Sherry’s daughter

Step by step photographs

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sherry Atbutterfly enjoys crafting with Plastic Canvas and yarn to make all kinds of decorations and fun items for the home. Many of her craft articles feature detailed tutorials and lengthy instructions. This is what she loves to do, She is a teacher. She is also involved with Early American History, Family History and genealogy. Sherry is legally blind.

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