Every year, my mother made whatever we wanted for our birthday. It was our own special holiday and the foundation for my love, care and infatuation with July 2. For my 10th birthday, as was tradition, my mother asked me what I wanted for dinner and what flavor cake I wanted. Lasagna and lemon cake with cream cheese icing.
Back in 1985, houses in Cleveland with central air were a luxury. I was also not one of those kids who liked being outside. I liked watching the kids outside, but I never felt a part of the Any Bounce and kickball circuit. I was a little too…. bookish. I wasn’t a fat kid, just not into the whole athletic thing. So I sat in that 572-degree house while my lasagna and cake were being prepared.
Lasagna is still one of my all-time favorite dishes. Now that I’m the one cooking though, I realize the lengths my mother went through for me on my birthday. Lasagna is time-consuming and messy. Sauce always seems to find a place to hide when I’m cleaning up and the starch layer on my counter is always a surprise considering I never actually lay the noodles on it. And then there’s the nutrition consideration. A piece of classic meat lasagna may have a nice amount of nutrients, but the fat (particularly saturated fat) counters those benefits.
As a result, I’ve tried ways to streamline the process while still enjoying the dish. I came across this recipe from The Italian Dish and decided I would give it a try. After years of consuming more than my share of egg rolls, I had no idea that wonton and egg roll wrappers were pasta. Who knew?
adapted from The Italian Dish
- About 30 wonton wrappers
- ¾ cup pesto (I made mine without nuts from this recipe)
- 1 cup sauce (I used jar spaghetti sauce)
- 1 8-oz round of fresh mozzarella
- 2 cups spinach
- 2 cups baby portabella mushrooms, diced
- Dash Paula Deen’s House Seasoning
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare either a baking dish or four small gratin dishes by spraying with a little non-stick cooking spray.
Saute the spinach and mushrooms with house seasoning until liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Turn heat down to low and let stand on stove.
Layer the lasagna stacks by starting with a wonton square, spreading about a teaspoon of marinara sauce on top and then about a teaspoon of pesto on that. Add another square of pasta and add about 1 tablespoon of spinach mixture. Add another wonton square and top with pesto, then a slice of fresh mozzarella and top with sauce. Repeat the three layers once for each stack. Repeat layers until you have used 6 squares for each stack.
Mix remaining sauce with remaining pesto. Add one more wonton square to each stack and top with sauce mixture and a round of fresh mozzarella. Cover tightly with foil.
If using individual gratin dishes, place them on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake the lasagna for about 20 minutes and then remove foil. Bake for an additional 7 -10 minutes, or until cheese on top has melted to your liking. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.
Note: You can freeze these lasagna stacks. To do this, place a sheet of wax paper on a small rimmed baking sheet. Remove each lasagna stack from the baking dish with a spatula and place on the wax paper. Place in freeze until firm, about one hour and store in an airtight container.