Cheesy Mushroom and Spinach Macaroni Lasagna

 


Cheesy Mushroom and Spinach Macaroni Lasagna is a hearty and easy version of the Italian favorite lasagna, using macaroni.  With layers of fresh marinara sauce, spinach-cottage cheese filling and oodles and oodles of mozzarella cheese with macaroni in between instead of lasagna pasta sheets, this cheesy, saucy mushroom and spinach mushroom lasagna is going to be your favorite meatless weeknight dinner!


Lasagna is one of my favorite Italian pasta dishes; case in point, my easy to make spinach lasagna rolls! Sometimes, I like to substitute the lasagna sheets with the easily available macaroni, kids’ favorite pasta!

The tomato sauce or marinara sauce used is the same in all my pasta dishes, be it in my eggplant parmesan, spaghetti or in my most favorite spinach lasagna rolls; my easy to make Homemade Marinara Sauce!

This time, I have used macaroni to layer the lasagna along with my easy homemade marinara sauce and a simple spinach-cottage cheese filling. Paneer (Indian cottage cheese) is my choice this time for the cottage cheese. You can use regular small-curd cottage cheese or ricotta cheese too.

Of course, how can you forget the oodles of grated mozzarella cheese that gives this dish the cheesy, gooey delightful highlight!

I have used mushrooms, bell pepper and spinach as my vegetables; feel free to use your favorite to suit what you have in your pantry. Mushrooms and bell peppers are sauteed first before adding the other sauce ingredients; this gives a nice texture to the marinara sauce!

Fresh spinach is blanched and chopped fine (squeeze out as much of the water as you can to avoid a soggy lasagna!) before adding to crumbled cottage cheese along with salt, pepper and some grated Parmesan cheese. If you cannot find Parmesan cheese, you can skip it. I would have loved to add more spinach, but that is all I had in my fridge.

Layer all of these elements together with pre-cooked macaroni in a baking dish and bake until hot and the cheese starts to turn light golden.  Cool for a few minutes and enjoy!! My husband loves to have a bowl of more marinara sauce on the side to drizzle over his macaroni lasagna slices for more saucy goodness! I savor the ooey, gooey cheesiness of the dish; more cheese the better for me.

Pair it with a simple lettuce salad with dressing or just some crusty bread, either toasted or untoasted; just dunk it into the saucy mixture to soak up all the goodness of every texture in the dish!

My mother hates any kind of pasta, so I normally make a grilled cheese sandwich with multigrain bread for her using marinara sauce and sliced cheese. This is a great idea to use any leftover marinara tomato sauce!

So, do try this easy, super delicious, cheesy, saucy macaroni lasagna chock full of vegetables and I am sure your family, especially your kids will love it!

 


Step-by-step method to make Spinach and Mushroom Macaroni Lasagna:

To make the marinara sauce:

Blend the tomatoes, onions, green chilies and garlic cloves to a fine puree.

Heat a large deep saucepan and add oil. Once the oil is hot, add the chopped mushrooms and bell peppers; sauté on high for about 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the tomato-onion puree along with canned tomato puree (or from the carton), dried oregano, Italian seasoning, salt and pinch sugar.

Mix well and bring to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, lower heat and simmer on medium low until thick; about 15 to 20 minutes. Keep aside.

To prepare the macaroni:

Boil macaroni according to package instructions, drain, rinse under running cold water to stop further cooking, drain well and keep aside.

To make the cottage cheese filling:

Wash spinach in plenty of water, drain and blanch in boiling water for 2 minutes; remove and drain completely.

Squeeze the blanched spinach well to remove as much moisture as possible, finely chop and keep aside.

Crumble paneer and transfer to a bowl.

Add the chopped spinach, crushed black pepper along with ¼ cup Parmesan cheese. Mix well and keep aside.

To assemble the mushroom and spinach macaroni lasagna:

Preheat oven to 200 C or 400 F.

Gather the elements for the lasagna around a deep 8 or 9-inch baking pan or dish.

Spread a thin layer of marinara sauce on the bottom of the dish.

Sprinkle some of the macaroni on top of the sauce, distributing evenly.

Top this with some of the cottage cheese-spinach mixture.

Sprinkle grated mozzarella cheese over this.

Repeat layers until the final top most layer of macaroni, sauce and finally mozzarella cheese.

Cover the dish with foil or any glass cover and bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes until the mixture is bubbly, cheese has melted and is lightly brown. Remove lid, sprinkle with more mozzarella cheese (optional) and bake uncovered for 5 to 10 minutes until melted.

Remove from oven and keep aside for 5 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!!

 


Cheesy Mushroom and Spinach Macaroni Lasagna

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Serving Size: 4

Cheesy Mushroom and Spinach Macaroni Lasagna

Delicious and easy vegetarian macaroni lasagna; saucy, oozing with gooey melting mozzarella and packed with spinach and mushrooms for a healthy bite! Slice and serve with extra helpings of marinara sauce on the side!

Ingredients

    For the marinara sauce:
  • 4 large tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 green chilies/jalapenos
  • 2 large cloves of garlic
  • 200 gms mushrooms, washed and chopped
  • 1 medium capsicum/bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 carton tomato puree (1 cup)
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp Italian seasoning
  • Salt
  • Pinch sugar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil or any cooking oil
  • For the cottage cheese filling:
  • 200 gm paneer (Indian cottage cheese)/Cottage cheese/Ricotta cheese (about 1 to 1 ½ cups)
  • 2 bunches spinach
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese (grated or powdered)
  • Crushed red chili flakes
  • Black pepper powder
  • ¼ tsp salt (some varieties of cottage cheese have salt, so add accordingly)
  • Rest of the ingredients:
  • 2 cups macaroni
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Cilantro, shredded spinach leaves or fresh basil leaves for garnishing

Instructions

    To make the marinara sauce:
  1. Blend the tomatoes, onions, green chilies and garlic cloves to a fine puree.
  2. Heat a large deep saucepan and add oil. Once the oil is hot, add the chopped mushrooms and bell peppers; saute on high for about 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Add the tomato-onion puree along with canned tomato puree (or from the carton), dried oregano, Italian seasoning, salt and pinch sugar.
  4. Mix well and bring to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, lower heat and simmer on medium low until thick; about 15 to 20 minutes. Do a taste test and adjust the seasonings according to your personal taste.Keep aside.
  5. To prepare the macaroni:
  6. Boil macaroni according to package instructions, drain, rinse under running cold water to stop further cooking, drain well and keep aside.
  7. To make the cottage cheese filling:
  8. Wash spinach in plenty of water, drain and blanch in boiling water for 2 minutes; remove and drain completely.
  9. Squeeze the blanched spinach well to remove as much moisture as possible, finely chop and keep aside.
  10. Crumble paneer and add the chopped spinach, crushed black pepper along with ¼ cup Parmesan cheese. Mix well and keep aside.
  11. To assemble the mushroom and spinach macaroni lasagna:
  12. Preheat oven to 200 C or 400 F.
  13. Spread a thin layer of marinara sauce on the bottom of a deep 8-inch baking pan or dish.
  14. Sprinkle some of the macaroni on top of the sauce, distributing evenly.
  15. Top this with some of the cottage cheese-spinach mixture.
  16. Sprinkle grated mozzarella cheese over this.
  17. Repeat layers until the final top most layer of macaroni, sauce and mozzarella cheese.
  18. Cover the dish with foil or any glass cover and bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes until cheese has melted and is lightly brown. Remove lid, sprinkle with more mozzarella cheese (optional) and bake uncovered for 5 to 10 minutes until melted.
  19. Remove from oven and keep aside for 5 minutes before serving.
  20. Serve with more marinara sauce on the side along with a fresh salad or any crusty bread.

Notes

This lasagna can be assemble and refrigerated ahead until ready to bake and serve. You can even freeze for up to a month and use later.

If you have lasagna sheets, you can use them to make the traditional lasagna.

Store leftovers, covered, in the fridge.

Feel free to use any of your favorite vegetables in the filling like zucchini, corn, any squash, eggplant etc.

Adjust the amount of fillings: sauce, cheese and cottage cheese-spinach filling according to preference.

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4 comments

    • curryandvanilla says:

      Thanks Corina 🙂 I have always loved using up leftover pizza or pasta sauce in a sandwich with lots of cheese and our whole family loves it, especially my Mom 🙂

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