Monday, January 12, 2009

My cracked-out Lasagna

The first subject to be addressed in this entry is not the mysterious lasagna itself, but the vessel that birthed it: my brand spanking new Le Creuset casserole! I got it for the best deal in town...from my family's house. Evidently, the Le Creuset cookware came with the place. That this has been kept from me for so long is a sick joke. So I'm making up for lost time...

Say hello to my little friends:
Le Creuset of wonder (left) and my shiny new Cuisinart Multiclad saucepan (also totally dreamy)

But putting my consumer gratification aside, I finally come to the real reason why I've summoned you here to ooh and ahh at my wondrous cookware. It's all about what's inside...

Cracker Lasagna (Adapted from a recipe by Heidi Swanson)
Yields about 8 portions

First, a hefty headnote explaining why this isn't as crazy as it sounds. I don't know about you all, but I've about had it with pasta. And I happened to have a whole box of crispycrunchyclassy Kavli crackers sitting in my cupboard. Plus, I have Heidi Swanson of to thank for ample inspiration. So let me just say: this ain't no lasagna-substitute, diet-food crazed alternative. No suh. With just the right amount of onion and mushroom caramelization, enough frothing on the cottage-cheese/egg mixture, and a healthy sprinkling of whole wheat breadcrumbs on top, you'll never want to go back to the heavy, slimy pasta stuffed up in your lasagna (sorry, was that obscene?). Now, hit it...

- 2 cups low-fat cottage cheese
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup skim/low-fat milk

- 1 box Kavli Hearty-Thick crisps (about 18 crackers)

- 1 shallot, minced

- 1 large onion, sliced lengthwise
- 1 lb. brown mushrooms, chopped

- 3-4 handfuls baby spinach
- 1/2 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs/panko

- 1/4 to 1/3 cup grated parmesan, for dusting on top.

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a blender, mix the cottage cheese, eggs, and pour in the milk slowly until the mixture swirls more freely but isn't quite liquid. In a large flat casserole or baking dish, spread out the crackers and pour the dairy mixture over, to cover. Let soak 10 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan over low flame and add the shallot and onion. Stir occasionally, letting cook for about 10-15 minutes, until soft and lightly colored. Add mushrooms to the pan and incorporate. Cover and sweat for 5 minutes, until the mushrooms are soft, fragrant, and have released some liquid. Quickly fold in the spinach and turn off the heat while continuing to stir. The spinach should be just wilted.

5. Lightly oil a 12-inch casserole (or something similar). Begin with a layer of the soaked crackers (you will have to break some to fill in the spaces; don't worry about overlapping, that's fine). Next ladle in some of the cottage cheese mixture, smoothing ov
er the crackers. Lastly, spoon about 1/3 of the veggies on top and spread evenly. Repeat for another two layers, ending with the last bit of veggies and a sprinkling of breadcrumbs and dusting of parm on top.

6. Bake uncovered 30-40 minutes, until the top is turning golden and has cracked a little. Allow for some growing space in the casserole - the crackers soaked in the egg mixture rise noticeably! Remove from the oven and let stand 10-15 minutes to set completely. Serve or refrigerate for later (it keeps pretty well).


Luna said...

mmm, sounds yummy...
by the way, i was at dean and deluca yesterday and i pilfered a cremini mushroom because i needed to know why they were $9/lb. damn, it was delicious.
this looks cool:
i'm thinking of joining this when mushroom season comes around!

Genevieve said...

the cracker lasagna is amazing isn't it? I tried it a couple of months ago. I do have to say something for tomato sauce and lasagna. If I ever did the cracker lasagna again I think I'd add something tomato-y, just to see. I'm making something new tonight too! I'll tell you about it this weekend when I see you!