Ready for a comfort food recipe that’s cheesy, filled with greens, and suitable for your vegetarian friends? This spinach and mushroom vegetarian lasagna is all that and then some – cozy up.
Comfort food doesn’t have to be a total health bomb. In fact, many dishes that evoke comfort and warmth can be pretty darn healthy, too – take this vegetarian lasagna recipe, for example. Made with tender baby spinach, cremini mushrooms, homemade béchamel sauce (a mixture of flour, grass-fed butter, and cashew milk), and organic cheese, this lasagna is the epitome of a hearty, yet nourishing dish.
Why Choose Organic Cheese?
Consulting the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen is a no-brainer when you want to choose between conventional and organic produce, but what about dairy products?
Studies have shown that organic dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, cheese, and kefir, are not only healthier than conventional, but also free from commonly used hormones and antibiotics. A 2013 study from Washington State University found that organic dairy contains far more heart-healthy fatty acids, as compared to conventional dairy products. The study analyzed 378 samples of conventional and organic milk and found that “conventional milk had an average omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio of 5.8, more than twice that of organic milk’s ratio of 2.3.” An overabundance of omega-6 fatty acids in the diet is linked to a variety of inflammatory diseases including asthma, coronary heart disease, certain types of cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases, according to Dr. Andrew Weil.
Another study from Newcastle University in the United Kingdom analyzed 196 peer-reviewed articles on milk and 97 articles on meat and distinguished clear differences between organic and conventionally raised dairy products and meat. The study concluded, “Both organic milk and meat contain around 50 percent more beneficial omega-3 fatty acids than conventionally produced products.”
Newcastle University’s Professor Carlo Leifert, who led the studies, noted, “Several of these differences stem from organic livestock production and are brought about by differences in production intensity, with outdoor-reared, grass-fed animals producing milk and meat that is consistently higher in desirable fatty acids such as the omega-3s, and lower in fatty acids that can promote heart disease and other chronic diseases.”
Organic dairy products are also free from antibiotics and synthetic hormones including recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), which unnaturally boosts production of milk in dairy cows. According to Andrew W. Campbell, MD, rBGH “causes an increased production of 15 to 17 percent more milk by dairy cows and causes them to produce insulin-like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1), which has been associated with premenopausal breast, colon, and prostate cancers.”
Organic (and better yet, grass-fed) dairy products are the clear winner when it comes to nutritional benefits. Choose USDA certified organic cheese, milk, cottage cheese, yogurt, and kefir to reap full the full benefits of dairy products.
Ooey gooey cheese, baby spinach, tender mushrooms, and a whole lot of flavor make this vegetarian lasagna recipe a upgraded comfort food classic. Dig in!
- 3 Tbsp avocado oil, divided
- 1 onion, diced
- 4 large handfuls of baby spinach
- 4 Tbsp ghee or grass-fed butter
- ¼ cup non-bleached white flour
- 4 cups unsweetened plain cashew milk
- 1 ¼ cup grated organic Parmesan cheese, divided
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 4 cups sliced cremini mushrooms
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- 8 ounces no-boil lasagna noodles
- 6 ounces organic mozzarella, shredded
- Preheat oven to 375 F.
- Heat one tablespoon of avocado oil in large pot over medium heat. Add in diced onion and sauté until translucent, about five minutes. Add in spinach one handful at a time and cook until wilted, about three to five minutes. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Transfer spinach and onion mixture to a mesh strainer and press to remove excess liquid. Set aside.
- In a small saucepan melt butter or ghee over high heat. Add flour and cook, whisking continuously, for one minute or until the roux (butter and flour mixture) becomes golden brown. Slowly add in milk and whisk continuously, until mixture begins to boil and slightly thicken. Remove from heat and stir in one-cup Parmesan cheese, nutmeg, one teaspoon of salt, and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Set aside.
- Heat remaining two tablespoons of avocado oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add mushrooms and a dash of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Sauté mushrooms until golden brown, about five to eight minutes. Add in dry white wine and continue to cook and deglaze the pan for five more minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Assemble the lasagna. Spread one cup of béchamel on the bottom of a 9x13 inch-baking dish and top with a single layer of lasagna noodles. Continue layering lasagna ingredients: béchamel sauce, sautéed spinach, mozzarella, mushrooms, noodles, and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese until all ingredients are used up.
- Cover lasagna with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 15 more minutes, or until cheese is golden and bubbling. Remove from oven and let sit for 20 minutes. Slice, serve, and enjoy!
Serving Size: 1 piece (332 g)
Calories per serving: 530
Fat per serving: 43 g
Saturated fat per serving: 34 g
Carbs per serving: 22 g
Protein per serving: 19 g
Fiber per serving: 4 g
Sugar per serving: 5 g
Sodium per serving: 635 mg
-This vegetarian lasagna recipe is modified from a Martha Stewart recipe.
-Add more protein by layering in a cup of white beans, turkey sausage, or chicken sausage into the lasagna mixture.
-No mushrooms? Instead use sliced zucchini, red bell peppers, eggplant, or even a mixture of a few different types of vegetables.
-Swap out traditional lasagna noodles with gluten-free noodles if preferred. If you want to avoid grain-based noodles altogether, swap out noodles for thin slices of eggplant or zucchini.
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Photos by Kate Gavlick