Second Place is First Place Loser…

Well not necessarily in this case, but with my competitive nature, anything less than perfect is unacceptable.  So we just had this meatless cookoff competition at work.  I believe it was called “Meatless Mondays Cookoff” to be precise.  Anyhow, that’s not the point…the point is that after much pestering by my friend Allison (who would by the way sell her mother for a free meal) I decided to enter the contest.  I would like to add a little in her defense though that she actually did think I could win and that was a minor factor in her pushing me to enter.

Strangely, the week came and went and the weekend was on the brink of being over.  Somehow I managed to forget that I signed up for this thing, so after playing two long softball games and getting caught in a torrential downpour, I managed to make it to Safeway to get the goods.  My delightful lack of memory left me in a bit of a time crunch, so I decided to make a slight change in my recipe and use fresh spinach instead of frozen.  I think that’s why I didn’t get first, but I’m not gonna harp on it.  Moving along, I picked up this organic, fresh spinach only became it was on sale and I figured I could use the rest in a spinach salad I planned to make for my brunch that upcoming Saturday.

I eats me spinach!

Once I rinsed my spinach and patted it dry, I set out to create the contest winning meal.

Just a few tidbits:

  2. You may just want to use thawed spinach instead of fresh and reach out to me if you have questions.
  3. Please do not lick the screen.

You want to start boiling your lasagna noodles and creating your buttery, creamy béchamel sauce at the same time.  For each tablespoon of butter, you will want flour and once less cup of milk…I use cream for an extra rich sauce.  My formula typically is 5-5-4.  Many recipes will encourage you to heat the flour and butter mixture until is a golden sandy color.  I tend to cook mine til its close to a caramel color, then add the milk cup by cup and it will lighten up.  Cook the milk until its right before boiling (you’ll have to eyeball this).  In between stages and to ward off vampires, I love to add garlic to everything along with a pinch of salt and nutmeg!  Smash some garlic and add it to the melting butter, also to the near boiling milk.  And this is something that you can choose to do, add to or change, but I muddle some basil and add it to the cooking béchamel.

The bitchin' béchamel sauce

Moving along…you should have all of the ingredients together, ready to layer.  Start out by pouring some marinara in the pan.  I kicked it up a notch by adding a sundried tomato paste of sorts.  I just ran some tomatoes, oil, a pinch of salt and some garlic through a processor.

Spread it like so...

Then continue to layer until you complete the last set of noodles and cover thoroughly with sauce so the top layer does not dry out.

Tuck it in...

Bake your masterpiece for about 40 minutes at 415°F.  As I sat in the house smelling the cheese bubble and sauce spill over, yes I said “smell” instead of “watch”, I had to go out for a drive to keep from snatching the oven door off and devouring the pan before it made it to work in the morning.

The dish managed to make it to the office and onto the judging table in one solid piece.  After taking out a few pieces to share with my team,

The Tasty Goodness of My Bitchin' Béchamel Lasagna

I left the pan and my reputation upstairs…after all, the email of the top three was going out to the entire office.  A few satisfied/no longer skeptical teammates and a day later, I was awarded 2ndplace in the Meatless Cookoff.

The could have at least spelled it right...but isn't my manicure nice!

Was I upset that I didn’t bring home 1st, kinda.  But the prize was a $75 giftcard…SCORE!  I’m well on my way to that iPad2!!!

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