Basil Pesto & Mushroom Lasagna

This one was such a delicious vegetarian dinner.  Lately I’ve been steering towards 2-3 veggie meals a week because it just makes me feel more satisfied (whaat? more satisfied with no meat?? Yes!), it is usually quicker and easier to prepare, and I know I’m meeting my veggie requirements for the day.  I hope you make this using the fresh pesto too… there really is nothing like the smell of it coming out of the food processor.  I’m a HUGE fan of fresh basil.  Despite what professional chefs may say, I think that dried herbs pack good flavor and are an economical choice for a lot of herbs.. BUT I do have to agree with them that fresh basil just doesn’t compete with dried.  Get down to your local farmers market, buy a pot of it, and make this recipe!

Basil Pesto & Mushroom Lasagna- slightly adapted from chocolate broccoli

Serves: 8

8 whole wheat lasagna noodles

1 (15-ounce) tub part skim ricotta cheese

2 cups sliced white mushrooms

1/2 cup chopped basil

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Cooking spray

6 tablespoons homemade pesto (see below)

1 cup (4-ounces) shredded part skim mozzarella cheese

Homemade Pesto:

2 cups packed fresh basil leaves (note: If it’s a season where basil isn’t so fresh, you can sub this out for spinach and use 1 tsp. of dried basil to get the flavor)
3 cloves garlic

1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Cook 8 lasagna noodles according to package directions.
  3. Prepare homemade pesto by mixing basil, garlic, walnuts, salt & pepper in a food processor.  Add oil in a little at a time, making sure it is well combined.  Add enough oil to reach the consistency you prefer (I only used about 1/4 cup).  Then mix in Parmesan cheese.
  4. Combine ricotta, mushrooms, 1/2 cup basil and 1⁄4 cup walnuts in a small bowl.
  5. Coat a 13×9 baking dish with cooking spray (or a lasagna pan if you have it). Spread 2 tablespoons homemade pesto across the bottom of the pan, then cover with 4 of the noodles. Spread the herb-ricotta mixture over the noodles, and top with the 4 remaining noodles. Cover with the remaining 4 tbsp. pesto and sprinkle the mozzarella over the top.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes, or until heated through and bubbling.

Disclaimer: The homemade pesto made about 6 tbsp. but I didn’t measure it exactly.  So don’t worry if it is slightly less then the measured amount, I promise it will work in the recipe.

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