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This week's Culinary SOS: Cafe Roka's vegetable lasagna

August 26, 2012|By Noelle Carter
  • Cafe Roka's artichoke and portobello lasagna.
Cafe Roka's artichoke and portobello lasagna. (Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles…)

This week's SOS request comes from Jana Nash in Mesa, Ariz.:

"Is there any way I could get the recipe for the wonderful vegetable lasagna from Cafe Roka in Bisbee, Ariz.? It's the best...."

With layers packed with fresh spinach, portobello mushrooms, artichokes and gooey mozzarella, there's no shortage of creamy richness in this lasagna from Café Roka (and your guests might never guess it's vegetarian). Assemble the lasagna ahead of time if you wish, then bake before serving; it makes a perfect dinner whether you're planning for company or a simple family dinner.

Thanks, Jana! Here's the recipe for Cafe Roka's artichoke and portobello lasagna.

Click here for more Culinary SOS recipes. If you have a favorite restaurant recipe you'd like to request, feel free to email me at noelle.carter@latimes.com. I'll do my best to track it down.

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Café Roka's artichoke and portobello mushroom lasagna

Total time: 2 hours

Servings: 10 to 12

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, medium dice

1 pound portobello mushrooms, medium dice

1/2 cup dry white wine

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 (14-ounce) can artichokes (packed in water), drained and coarsely chopped

Salt and pepper

1 pound coarsely chopped spinach

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter

1/4 cup flour

4 1/2 cups milk

1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese

1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained

Ground nutmeg

1 (9-ounce) box oven-ready lasagna sheets (no-boil style)

1 pound grated whole milk mozzarella

1. Bring a large pot of water to the boil to blanch the spinach.

2. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet heated over medium-high heat until hot, then add the olive oil and the onion. Cook the onion, stirring frequently, until the onion starts to soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Increase the heat to high, stir in the mushrooms and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until any of the liquid released from the mushrooms has evaporated, 8 to 10 minutes.

3. While the mushrooms are cooking, blanch the spinach: Add the spinach, in batches, to the boiling water and cook until the spinach softens and turns a bright green, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Transfer the spinach in a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Repeat until all of the spinach is blanched. Drain the spinach, and wrap it in a large kitchen towel, squeezing the towel to drain the spinach of any excess moisture.

4. When the liquid from the mushrooms has evaporated, add the white wine, stirring to scrape any flavoring from the bottom of the pan. Add the garlic and artichokes, stirring until completely combined. Taste the mixture, and add three-fourths teaspoon salt and one-half teaspoon pepper, or season as desired. Stir in the spinach, then taste and season again if needed. Remove from heat and set aside.

5. Make the tomato-bechamel sauce: In a medium, heavy-bottom saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. When the butter is foamy, whisk in the flour. Slowly whisk in the milk and cook over medium heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture begins to thicken and take on a sauce-like consistency, 10 to 12 minutes. Slowly stir in the parmesan cheese, and when the cheese is melted, stir in the tomatoes. Taste the sauce, adding three-fourths teaspoon salt and one-fourth teaspoon pepper, along with a pinch of nutmeg, or season as desired.

6. Heat the oven to 350 degrees and assemble the lasagna: On the bottom of a 13-inch by 9-inch baking dish, ladle about 1 cup of the tomato-bechamel sauce. Cover the sauce with a single layer of lasagna noodles. Sprinkle one-fourth of the vegetable mixture over the noodles, then ladle over another cup of the sauce. Top the sauce with one-fourth of the grated mozzarella. Repeat with the noodles, vegetables, sauce and mozzarella until you have 4 layers (if you have more than one cup of sauce left when assembling the fourth layer, go ahead and pour all of the remaining with that layer before sprinkling over the last of the mozzarella cheese). The dish can be assembled up to this point, covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated up to a day before baking; remove the plastic wrap and leave the lasagna out at room temperature while heating the oven before continuing with the next step.

7. Cover the baking dish with foil and place the dish on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any drippings. Bake the lasagna for 45 minutes. Increase the temperature to 450 degrees, remove the foil from the lasagna and continue baking until the top is lightly browned, 8 to 12 minutes. Remove and cool slightly on a rack for 20 minutes before serving.

Each of 12 servings: 407 calories; 21 grams protein; 32 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 21 grams fat; 11 grams saturated fat; 58 mg cholesterol; 8 grams sugar; 1,000 mg sodium.

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