Although this hearty dish involves several steps, most can be done a couple of days in advance. Prepare and refrigerate the béchamel, covered, up to 2 days ahead. Refrigerate the mushroom-sweet potato mixture and the spinach mixture separately for up to 2 days.
To prepare béchamel, lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Place flour in a Dutch oven, and gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk. Add 1/2 cup onion, sage, shallots, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and bay leaf. Bring the mixture to a boil; cook 1 minute or until thick. Strain béchamel through a sieve over a bowl, and discard solids. Set the béchamel aside.
To prepare the filling, heat 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 1/2 cups onion and garlic; sauté 3 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and spinach; sauté 2 minutes or until spinach wilts. Set aside.
Combine 1 1/2 teaspoons oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, mushroom, and sweet potato on a jelly roll pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 450° for 15 minutes.
Combine cheeses; set aside.
To prepare noodles, soak noodles in warm water in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish 5 minutes. Drain.
Spread 3/4 cup béchamel in bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange 3 noodles over béchamel; top with half of mushroom mixture, 1 1/2 cups béchamel, and 1/3 cup cheese mixture. Top with 3 noodles, spinach mixture, 1 1/2 cups béchamel, and 1/3 cup cheese mixture. Top with 3 noodles, remaining mushroom mixture, 1 1/2 cups béchamel, and 3 noodles. Spread remaining béchamel over noodles. Bake at 450° for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining cheese; bake an additional 10 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
This was a huge hit at a pre-Thanksgiving feast. As suggested, I made all the parts ahead of time, and assembled day of (I just brought them to room temp). I used whole milk and increased the fresh sage and S&P in the bechamel sauce, and added a bit of powdered sage to the roasted sweet potatoes. I sauteed the mushrooms in EVOO instead of roasting them, which made a big difference in flavor. I topped the last layer of noodles with bechamel and the cheeses. UPDATE (Sept. 2011). Since this post, I have had three requests for this lasagna from other families. It is not easy to make, nor is it inexpensive, like a regular lasagna. But my vegetarian friends rave about it, and have given me referrals. Gonna figure out a way to make it in smaller sizes.
I really wanted to like this recipe, in theory it sounded so good! I did change a couple of things so it's hard to rate it but the part I didn't like about it was the part I didn't change...I don't like mushrooms so I substituted cauliflower for the mushrooms and I subbed smoked Gouda for the Gruyere. Unfortunately the bechamel is VERY sweet (because of the fat free milk) and it came off making the whole lasagna taste like this weird sweet concoction (especially when paired with SWEET potato). I had to add much more salt as well as a hefty dose of garlic powder and a little black and red pepper to make the sauce taste like more than just plain old milk, I was disappointed that the sage flavor was so mild, it was hardly there. I think there was potential in this recipe, the combo of ingredients are a good start but that bechamel sauce is really just not good in my opinion.
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