Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Caramelized onions and lasagna...count me in!!

    My husband and I like good wine and we recently picked up a bottle of wine at the store that was not one of our favorites. It was a cheap red shiraz and really was not enjoyable to drink. We like the quote "Life is too short to drink bad wine." It's even posted on one of our kitchen walls. Since I don't like to waste things I thought I should  just use the wine for cooking instead. This following recipe is another one I adapted from Eating Well Magazine. It uses caramelized onions and portobello mushrooms which happen to be some of my favorites.  Lasagna can always be a little time consuming but you know when you take that first bite that the  process was worth it!  You could always make the caramelized onion filling ahead of time. I love to make lasagna too because I get to use my favorite green Emile Henry dish! 

Caramelized Onion Lasagna


8 ounces whole wheat lasagna noodles


3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 large sweet onions, thinly sliced
4 medium portobello mushroom caps,
   gills removed and diced
1/2 cup red wine
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper


4 cups baby spinach
2 cups nonfat ricotta cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon salt


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups low-fat milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 ounces crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil 


1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook noodles until almost al dente, about 2 
minutes less than the package directions. Drain; Return noodles to pot and cover with cold water. 

2. To prepare onion filling: Heat 3 tablespoons oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook stirring frequently but not too much until golden brown and very soft,
about 25 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, until just beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Add wine and 1 teaspooon salt and continue cooking until most of the liquid is 
absorbed, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in pepper. 

3. To prepare spinach filling: Place spinach, ricotta, basil and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a food
processor and process until smooth. 

4. To prepare white sauce: Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add flour and stir until bubbling, about 30 second. Gradually whisk in mile and 1/2 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Cook, whisking, until the sauce has the consistency of thick gravy, about 1 minute. Add Gorgonzola and gently whisk until is melted. Remove from the heat. 


Preheat oven to 375ยบ F. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Drain the noodles. Spread 1/2 cup white sauce in the prepared pan. Place a layer of noodles over the sauce. Spread half of the spinach filling over the noodles and top with 1/3 of the onion filling. Evenly spread 1/2 cup white sauce over the onions. Repeat with another layer of noodles, the remaining spinach filling, half the remaining onion filling and half remaining white sauce. To finish, top with 1/3 of noodles, spread the remaining onion filling over the noodles and then spread or dollop the remaining white sauce on top. Sprinkle with walnuts and basil. 

Bake until hot a bubbling, about 30 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. 

Cooking notes:

    Caramelizing onions can be tricky. You don't want to burn the onions but you don't want them to still look the color of a white of sweet onion. The trick to getting that beautiful caramelized color is to first use a good quality skillet. I prefer my stainless steel pan compared to my nonstick for this job. Next, add your oil and heat it up. Then add you onions and stir once. Let them stand for awhile. Don't over stir these because the process will take much longer. Watch them and stir every now and then using a metal spatula to scrape up the browned goodies on the bottom of the pan. Continue watching, then scraping and stirring until the color changes to a beautiful brown but not burned. 

This technique takes some practice but they can 
be such a great addition to your dishes!

  Portobello mushrooms: Removing the gills on portobello mushrooms caps is easy. Flip them over so you can see the underside. Take a spoon and just scrape the dark gills away. The gills taste good but in some dishes they can dye your food an unappealing color that you might not want, especially when serving to guests!


  1. Another wonderful recipe. You have a lovely and fun way of describing your cooking techniques!

  2. Betsy! I'm having so much fun reading your recipes! You need to slow down. . .I can't keep up! I tried this lasagna and served guests :) but I guess I should have used a bigger pan. I am eager to keep trying your recipes and commend your cooking tips and choices. GREAT job!!! ~ Briana


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