Back in the day when hubby and I were glowing and engaged, we had the great joy of planning our wedding and the most fun of all: the reception menu. With the carnivores in charge (our families and hubby) we of course, had Filet Mignon as the main act. For my sake, we added a Lobster Tail as the supporting act. For the sake of our 3-5 vegetarian friends, we decided to offer the option of a vegetarian plate on the RSVP cards.
A ridiculous number of invitations went out (big families all around), and finally, I had a wave of relief after surviving several wedding invitation disasters. After practically dancing and skipping out of the post office, I came home and looked lovingly at one of our extra invitations.
“WE SPELLED VEGETERIAN WRONG!"
That’s right, ladies and gents. 300+ of these babies went all across the country & over the Pacific Ocean to
Spinach Black Bean Lasagna
Though I absolutely love black beans, I wasn’t quite sure I wanted them in my lasagna. Where’s all the creamy cheese and ground meat? Well, the cheese is still there. Black beans stand in for the usual ground turkey or beef and make both the sauce and filling hearty with a little dose of protein for good measure. The beans are mashed into the pasta sauce so their taste, while still present, is much more subtle than you’d expect. Spinach, red pepper, mushrooms and onion round out the filling with zesty Mexican cheese topping each lasagna layer. Though it may not look all that appetizing below, I promise it is!
I usually like to make my own pasta sauce, though it typically simmers for about 2 hours; the lasagna takes 1 hour to bake so unfortunately, I didn’t have 3 hours to dedicate to dinner this go-around. I cheated and used two jars of pasta sauce: 1 Mushroom Marinara and 1 jar of Newman's Own Sockarooni sauce. If you are lucky enough to have a big batch of homemade sauce in the freezer, this would be a perfect time to bring it out!Spinach Black Bean Lasagna
½ large red bell pepper, finely chopped
1/4 cup sweet onion, finely chopped
½ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon chili powder
1 tsp olive oil
½ cup sliced mushrooms
2 large eggs, beaten
1 (15 oz) container ricotta cheese (lowfat is OK, but don’t use nonfat)
1 (10 oz) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
¼ cup fresh Parmesan
4 cups shredded Mexican Cheese blend (or Monterey Jack), divided
Black Bean Lasagna Sauce 9 precooked lasagna noodles (can use no-boil lasagna noodles, if available)
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
2 (26 oz) jars pasta sauce or approximately 5 cups homemade pasta sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper (approximate, add more to taste)
9 precooked lasagna noodles (can use no-boil lasagna noodles, if available)
chopped fresh cilantro , for garnish
Heat olive oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add red pepper, onions, and ½ teaspoon cumin and the chili powder; sauté until tender about 6 minutes. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, stir together mushroom, eggs, ricotta, spinach, cilantro, salt, Parmesan cheese and 1 cup of the Mexican cheese. Add red pepper / onion mixture. Set aside.
Mash black beans with a potato masher or a hand held immersion blender (I have neither and tried using a fork – not recommended without high levels of patience!) Stir in pasta sauce, cumin and black pepper, to taste. Spread 1/3 of the sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. Layer with 3 noodles, half of spinach filling mixture, and 1 cup Mexican cheese. Repeat next layer with sauce, 3 noodles, remaining filling and cheese. Top with remaining noodles, sauce and cheese.
Bake, covered, at 350° for 1 hour. Uncover and top with remaining cheese. Bake 5 minutes or until cheese melts and is bubbly. Garnish, with chopped cilantro.