Pasta is a very traditional dish for Christmas especially in the Italian community. You will also find it is a popular choice for Christmas Eve dinners, in particular lasagna. This version is make with crepes making it light and a great choice for a light meal the night before or even for a Christmas buffet. To make this dish easier, you can make the crepes up to 3 days ahead of time and keep them in the refrigerator until you are ready to use. Bring them to room temperature when you are ready to start assembling the lasagna.
- 1/4 olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 56 oz. canned crushed tomatoes
- 5 basil leaves diced
- 1 oz. dried Porcini mushrooms
- 1 cup boiling water
- 2 tbsps. olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic thinly sliced divided in three portions
- 1 lb. fresh mushrooms your choice
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 tbsp. parsley, minced
- 2 tbsps. butter
- 10 oz. frozen spinach
- 12 to 16 oz. mozzarella cheese cubed
- 1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- 1-1/2 cups flour
- 8 eggs lightly beaten
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1/4 cup minced parsley
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 tbsps. butter
To make the crepes ahead of time, add flour to a large bowl. Whisk the eggs, milk, salt, pepper, parsley, and a pinch of nutmeg in a small bowl. Slowly add the egg mixture to the flour while whisking to avoid lumps. Whisk until the batter is smooth and then let rest covered for 30 minutes.
You can either make the crepes ahead of time or make them right before making the sauce. To make the crepes ahead of time, melt a small amount of butter into a 9 inch sauté pan, making sure the butter covers the bottom of the pan completely. When pan is hot (set at medium) add a scant 1/4 cup of batter to the pan. Swirl the pan around until the batter completely covers the bottom of the pan, it should form a very thin pancake. Cook for 30 second until the crepe is light brown and set.
Flip the crepe and cook for another 30 seconds and then transfer to a plate to cool. Repeat until all of the batter is gone, greasing the pan each time to make sure the crepes do not stick to the pan. It is ok to stack the crepes as you make them; you should have approximately 22 of them when the batter is gone. Keep the crepes covered until you are ready to use them.
If you plan to make the crepes at the same time you make the lasagna, then start the sauce after you have mixed the crepe batter and while it is standing for 30 minutes. To make the sauce sauté the garlic on medium heat in the olive oil, but do not let it brown. Pour the crushed tomatoes over the garlic and add the salt. Increase the heat to medium high and let simmer until the sauce has thickened nicely approximately 30 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent the tomatoes from burning. Remove thickened sauce from the heat and add the basil, set aside.
Rehydrate dried mushrooms by pouring boiling water over the top of them and letting them sit for about 30 minutes or until soft. Drain the mushrooms on some paper towels, but reserve the liquid. Chop the mushroom a little bit leaving them fairly large.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add a sliced piece of garlic and let cook only until soft. Add the fresh mushrooms, the rehydrated mushrooms and their reserved liquid. Add the tsp. of salt and a bit of black pepper. Cook for 20 minutes stirring as needed until the mushrooms are cooked and most of the liquid is gone.
Increase heat to medium high and add the wine. Let it simmer for a minute, then reduce to medium low and simmer for 5 minutes. Add parsley and remove pan from the burner. Transfer the ingredients to another container and put the skillet back on the burner over medium low. Melt the butter and one last clove of sliced garlic. Soften the garlic as before, but do not brown. Add the spinach which has been thawed and drained along with 1/4 tsp of salt. Cook until the spinach is heated through and the butter is gone, take off the burner.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a 9 by 13 baking pan with butter. Add a thin layer of the tomato sauce into the baking dish. Layer 6 crepes in the bottom overlapping as needed. Sprinkle 1/4 of the mushrooms, 1/4 of the spinach, and 1/4 of the mozzarella on top. Add 1 tbsp. of the Parmesan. Add 4 more crepes and another layer of sauce. Then add another layer of the mushrooms, spinach and cheeses. Repeat this process again, and then add one more layer of mushrooms, spinach, and cheese. Cover with any remaining crepes and add a final layer of sauce over the top with a sprinkle of the parmesan on top of that.
Bake for 30 minutes until everything is hot and cheese is brown. Let stand for 10 minutes.