Over the weekend I decided it was time for me to become domesticated and I mustered up everything that was inside of me, found a recipe online, went to the grocery store and actually cooked, all by myself. Our little girl is growing up.
I know I keep harping on the fact that Chipotle gave me food poisoning and I can no longer eat there, but with that option completely gone there is very little I can do by way of nourishment. So before it got all “survival of the fittest” in my apartment, eventually killing me off for a species of person that can actually fend for itself, I decided it was high time I learned a new skill.
Don’t get me wrong. I know how to make the staples – pigs in a blanket, mac and cheese, “baked ziti” with Prego sauce and string cheese – but with that said, I’m aware that these are not things I should be eating every day. With Rachel Ray promising healthy meals in 30 minutes, I made my way over to her website. Years ago, my friend Katie made this lasagna with mushrooms and almonds, which sounded crazy to me until I ate it, and it was one of the first Rachel Ray meals that came up in the recipe search. Done. This is what I would be making.
Now here’s where it gets tricky. I am so not the person who has cloves of garlic just laying around the house. You know those shows where they’re all like, “just use whatever you have in the fridge.” Well, I ask, what can you make from a can of V8 Fruit Fusion and an unopened bottle of ketchup? Death. That’s what you can make. So obviously this was going to involve a trip to the grocery store. Two hours later, my cart was piled high with portobello mushroom caps, shaved almonds, lemons and diced tomatoes. But my wallet was at home. Here is where I give a shout out to my cashier, Compton, for watching my cart while I drove back to Cleveland Circle to retrieve some monies. Like I said that day Compton, I love you.
The shopping situation took a lot out of me, so instead of doing everything in one day (shopping and cooking? that’s just nonsense), I waited until Sunday to make my feast. Now, Rachel Ray makes everything sound so easy. Sometimes she doesn’t even mention steps you need, because she automatically assumes that the person making the food is aware that the mushrooms need to be sliced, or the Magic Bullet can only hold so much of the almond-lemon-garlic-cheese mixture until it breaks down with a sad whirring noise. But I guess it’s all a learning process. The meal which should have taken me less than an hour took about 2.5, but the end result was fantastic, even if I do say so myself. I forced my cousin Ray to try a piece, and even though he said it had a weird texture, I’m chalking that comment up to him having a chef for a dad, and that his palate must be way more sophisticated than the average person. I’m giving myself a B+.
Check out the recipe online or below! If you’re lucky, maybe I’ll make it for you one day. Now I’m off to perfect my technique!
* 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
* 5 large portobello mushroom caps, thinly sliced
* Salt and pepper
* Two 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes with Italian herbs
* 3 cups (about 10 ounces) sliced almonds, toasted
* 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
* 2 cloves garlic, chopped
* Grated peel and juice of 1 lemon
* 6 no-boil lasagna sheets
* 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
Make it your own:
Use your favorite cheese in place of the mozzarella.
1. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large skillet, heat 1/4 cup olive oil over high heat. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add the tomatoes to the skillet, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, and cook until softened, 6 to 7 minutes.
2. Using a food processor, process the toasted almonds, parmesan, garlic, lemon peel, lemon juice and remaining 1/2 cup olive oil into a coarse paste. Transfer the pesto to a bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. In an 8-inch square baking dish, spread half the tomatoes across the bottom. Place 2 lasagna sheets on top. Spread a third of the pesto over the sheets; sprinkle with half the mozzarella and then half the mushrooms. Add another layer of lasagna sheets, pesto, mozzarella and mushrooms. Top with another layer of lasagna sheets, spread with the remaining pesto and then the remaining tomatoes. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 35 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10 minutes more. Let stand for at least 10 minutes before slicing.