Cracker Lasagna

Cracker Lasagna Recipe


I'm boarding a flight back to San Francisco. Wayne and I had a great time in NYC and I promise more details about it after I get home, unpack, and settle in. I didn't win the Beard Award, but we had a fantastic time regardless - it was a lot of fun to be part of the celebration. I thought while I'm in transit I'd share a post I wrote before I left - a fun twist on lasagna.

Cracker Lasagna Recipe

The next time you are in the mood for something creamy, rich, terribly decadent and uncompromisingly delicious - without it being a complete nutritional train wreck, this is your recipe. Imagine a lasagna, but instead of using pasta noodles, I used crispy, whole-grain crackers. Most people use pound after pound of beef and/or sausage, and then more beef (which as you all know, isn't my thing anyway). Instead, I pureed cottage cheese (which gets silky smooth), and thinned it out with a bit of milk and a couple eggs - some chopped mushrooms and spinach were part of the plan as well. Flash forward thirty minutes and out of the oven comes a beautiful, golden-topped pan of something that is lasagna-esque in nature, or close enough. And though it might sound a tad offbeat, it's great.

Why this recipe, why now? It does seem like the perfect cold weather recipe, doesn't it. Something perfect for a blustery night. I should mention that Wayne has been running long, long distances lately (he's running a marathon later this summer), and because I've been finding him foraging for anything edible in the kitchen after he gets back, I've been trying to keep hearty, filling, yet relatively healthy leftovers around for him. This was one of my experiments.

Cracker Lasagna Recipe

This is the onions and mushrooms in the skillet, just before I pull it off the heat add the spinach.

Cracker Lasagna Recipe

Here's a shot of the type of cracker I used. As I mention in the headnotes, it's important to choose a sturdy cracker, one that won't completely disintegrate on you when you soak them.

 
 
 
 

Cracker Lasagna Recipe

A few important head notes: when you go to place the baking dish in the oven, you might worry that things look are a little on the runny/liquid side. It's ok - the crackers continue to absorb and swell though out the baking process, and the cottage cheese mixture will set up nicely due to the eggs. When choosing a type of cracker to use, hoosing go for sturdy ones, a cracker that can stand up to ten minutes of soaking without going to mush on you - I included a photo of the crackers I used up above, I suspect Ak-Mak would be a good choice as well (Trader Joe's, Whole Foods). Also, don't worry if your crackers are the exact dimension I call for in the recipe, just use enough to construct three layers in whatever pan you are using. Prepping all your ingredients beforehand is helpful here - chop your spinach and onions, etc. Things will go more smoothly. And lastly, I can't help but think that some shredded gruyere would right at home on top of this.

1 1/2 cups cottage cheese
1 cup milk
2 large eggs
scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

splash of olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 shallot, chopped (optional)
1/4 pound brown mushrooms (about 12 medium), brushed clean and chopped
pinch of fresh thyme (optional)
2 big handfuls of spinach, washed and chopped
18 2 x 4 - inch crispy crackers (see head notes)

9 - inch round baking dish, or an 8x8 baking pan will work as well

Preheat oven to 400F degrees with rack in the middle. Oil your baking dish and set aside.

Using a hand blender (or food processor or regular blend) puree the cottage cheese, milk, eggs, and salt until smooth. Line a separate deep dish or baking pan with the crackers and cover with 1 1/2 cups of the cottage cheese mixture, reserving the rest for later use. Let the crackers soak for about 10 minutes - long enough for them to soften a bit, but not long enough for them to loose all their structure

In the meantime, in a large skillet over high heat, cook the onion and shallot in a splash of olive oil along with a pinch of salt. Cook for a couple minutes, until they begin to soften up a bit. Stir in the mushrooms, and cook until they release their liquid and start to brown, another 5 minutes or so - stirring once or twice along the way. Remove from heat and stir in the spinach. Combine with the remaining cottage cheese mixture.

Arrange about 1/3 of the soaked crackers in a single layer in the bottom of prepared pan - I break up the crackers a bit to make things fit. I should mention things are much easier if you're using a square pan. Ladle 1/3 of the spinach mushroom mixture over the first layer of crackers. Add another layer of crackers, another 1/3 of the mushroom mixture, a final layer of crackers and the remaining mushrooms - three layers total. Place in oven for about 30 minutes or until top is golden (edges golden). Remove and cool for 15-20 minutes - this helps everything set up nicely. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes about 8 - 10 servings.

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Your Comments


Danielle
June 9, 2008

This looks like an interesting twist. It sounds a bit more quiche-y than lasagna-y though. I guess I'm having a hard time getting past the tomato aspect of traditional lasagnas.

Nonetheless, something I fully intend to try. =)

Thanks, Heidi!

 

I would never have thought to sub crackers in for lasagna noodles. I have been experimenting more with the increasingly healthy, high fiber or whole wheat noodles they are bringing out. In some ways this reminds me of a savory bread pudding.

Well, no matter what you call it, it does look tasty. Any time there are that many mushrooms at the party, its bound to be good.

 

Ve*ganChick
June 9, 2008

This looks really tasty...a neat idea not using the traditional noodle. Any suggestions for a substitute for the mushrooms?? I just can't bring myself to eat them, but I do want to try this dish!!!

 

TC
June 9, 2008

Years ago a friend prepared a traditional lasagna and at the last minute, remembering it was passover, subbed matzah for the noodles. It was delicious and I didn't know until she told me after the meal.

 

Sophie
June 9, 2008

Such an inventive idea Heidi!

My other half is training for several different lengths of triathlon this year so I know exactly what you mean about making an effort to keep a range of healthy options ready in the fridge.

 

bitchincamero
June 9, 2008

This looks awesome! Must try soon!

 

Trina Jaconi Biery
June 9, 2008

Your photography just takes my breath away. I figured that when a casserole image actually induces an audible gasp that I aught to mention it. I love this recipe idea too.

 

Lakshmi
June 9, 2008

Heidi,

I'm writing for the first time, though I have been a regular reader for a while. One question: you say in your recipe "... cover with 1 1/2 cups of the cottage cheese mixture, reserving the rest for later use."

I don't think I understand where the mixture was used later. I will definitely try this recipe. I agree with Erin, mushrooms make anything delicious.

HS: Sorry! That's what I get for hitting publish from an airport terminal. I've rephrased it, so the instructions should be a bit clearer. The crackers soak up some of the 1 1/2 cups, and the remainder should be mixed in with the mushrooms and spinach. Thanks for the heads up!

 

Sarah LT
June 9, 2008

I second Lakshmi:
I don't see what you mean to happen to the cheese mixture after soaking the crackers -- what happens to the 1 1/2 cups after soaking or the "reserved" extra cheese mixture?

Good idea though. I can't wait to experiment with my various seedy, interesting whole-grain crackers.

 

Neil
June 9, 2008

I've been making a lasagna like this for years, but with Matzoh. Absolutely delicious! I plan on trying your twist soon. Thanks for the recipe.

 

Nick
June 9, 2008

That very well may be the crazies lasagna recipe I've ever seen. And cottage cheese? I just bought a tub of it to make my pancakes for the week but I may use it for this instead. This sounds like a great meal to make and have plenty of leftovers for the week!

 

Mary
June 9, 2008

Just genius! Heidi, you are so freakin creative! Quick question - which crackers did you use to make this, and where did you get them? They look so seedy and delicious :)

 

Dudicles
June 9, 2008

Cracker Lasagna: Most appropriately named recipe ever.

 

Tom from Oregon
June 9, 2008

Crazy... what a neat idea, and fast results... I'm sure the cracker puns are all "cracked up" until just now... really looking forward to trying this.

Nice job.

 

Seiko
June 9, 2008

Hello Heidi,
This must be very tasty. I will have to try it soon. Hopefully I can find whole-grain
crackers in Japan....!

 

Samantha
June 9, 2008

This one is going on the "to make" list ASAP! Wow!

Good luck to Wayne in his training and his full! (what race is he doing? My training for my 2nd Marine Corps Marathon begins soon)

 

Sandra
June 9, 2008

Very neat! This's gonna be my fave dish to get through winter.

Thanks!

 

Pamela
June 9, 2008

Lakshmi & Sarah LT - at the end of the second to last paragraph of directions, Heidi states:

"Remove from heat and stir in the spinach. Combine with the remaining cottage cheese mixture.

Heidi - thank you for the delicious recipes and absolutely gorgeous photos. Your ideas are fun and inspiring to me.

 

Angelina
June 9, 2008

I am new to this site. I started with the
broccoli pesto, then the orzo soup. My boyfriend and I went crazy over both recipes. I have been anxiously waiting for the next one. I will make this lasagna this week. Thank you for such tasty deliciousness!

 

Donna
June 9, 2008

Fabulous...delicious...and nutritious soul-satifying fare...Heidi ...you never cease to pleasantly stun us with your "why didn't I think of that?!!" bottomless pool of creativity...

Just a thought for all of you gluten-challenged out there....THINK WHOLE GRAIN SARRASIN CRACKERS...they're gluten-free and lend an amazing nutty and perfumed "je ne sais quoi" to Heidi's offering and marries particurly well with the foresty flavour of the mushrooms....

 

Zoe
June 10, 2008

I find your site a few days ago, and it seems the exact site I was looking for! Thank you very much for your recipes! I tried your orzo soup recipe, a real pleasure! Thanks a lot!

 

Jayanthi
June 10, 2008

hi,
i'm very new to this site - just to see the snaps itself is mouth watering - and tempting - really i should try some of your receipies
will be in touch

 

Jayanthi
June 10, 2008

hi,
i'm very new to this site - just to see the snaps itself is mouth watering - and tempting - really i should try some of your receipies
will be in touch

 

Jayanthi
June 10, 2008

hi,
i'm very new to this site - just to see the snaps itself is mouth watering - and tempting - really i should try some of your receipies
will be in touch

 

katy
June 10, 2008

has anyone tried this with Wasa? i'd love to have an inventive use for them. there seem to be so many, a never-ending supply.

i love your recipes, heidi. i'm having an acai/vanillla yogurt popsicle for breakfast during the heatwave.

 

Amelia
June 10, 2008

Any Aussies out there with ideas about which crackers to use? The picture reminds me of Ryvita...

 

Bj
June 10, 2008

Sounds Yummy! Reminds, I've recently switched to making my lasagna with Polenta.

 

Amanda
June 10, 2008

Hi,
I've been trying your recipes for about a year now & I love them :D I never thought I could cook, until I really actually tried, and now I love it. But I'm huge on nutritional facts, I know most of these recipes all have healthy ingredients, but do you know any of their nutritional information?

 

VeggieGirl
June 10, 2008

A lasagna made with whole-grain crackers??? Brilliant!!! Looks absolutely delectable.

Have a safe trip to San Francisco!!

 

Rachel
June 10, 2008

I've been making a lasagna like this for years with whole-grain sliced bread (oven-toasted!). Deliciuos.

 

Colleen
June 10, 2008

Attn: Mary. What kind of crackers? I think they look like JJ Flats. They are very sturdy crackers and even if they're not what Heidi used, I'm sure they would work well.

 

s.
June 10, 2008

Just as Neil said, I have made matzoh lasagne to rave reviews. I'll try this outside of matzoh season!

 

Lucy V
June 10, 2008

A very nice dish for a marathoner in training! I am really bummed you didn't get the award because I adore your book and use it all the time. It is a feast for the eyes and soul. Thank you for writing it, it is now one of my favorite references.

 

Cristina
June 10, 2008

If anyone could tempt a person who grew up on lasagna featuring homemade spinach pasta and besciamel to try a dish made with crackers and cottage cheese, it's you. Since it's almost 100 in Phila. today, however, and there are no long distance runners in my household, I'll probably hold off trying this recipe until October.

 

Laurie in San diego
June 10, 2008

Here is an idea:

Mexican lasagna-eque by Laurie

Use Corn tortillas (my husband can eat no wheat) and make a home made enchilada sauce with tomato sauce, garlic, onion and jalapenos, simmered for a while then blended.

Layer sauce, tortillas, cheese mixture of your choice, and repeat until you fill up the pan. The corn tortillas are an awesome replacement for wheat crackers or noodles. You can even add chicken for extra protein.

 

Jen (Modern Beet)
June 10, 2008

I have that same pan! same color and everything... :) I suppose this means I should make the recipe!

 

Mary
June 10, 2008

Thanks Colleen :)

 

julieta
June 10, 2008

Thanks for another creative recipe, Heidi! I love the mushroom-spinach pairing, and in a casserole dish! Yum.

Laurie: Here in Mexico, the dish that you described is called Tamal Azteca. My mother makes a killer Tamal Azteca, by the way...

 

Kirsten from Munich
June 11, 2008

I've never heard about a lasagna with cracker, but it's a funny idea... Yes, we need more of those creative cooks!

 

Lama
June 11, 2008

I love this concept! I cannot imagine how someone would miss out on mushrooms, but I think eggplant would be a considerable substitute. What do you think?

 

P and A Chronicles
June 11, 2008

that sounds delicious. something i didn't thinc of before. And since the summer sunshine is hidding I'm definitely eating some of this "lasagna"

 

Annalisa
June 11, 2008

Heidi, great recipe, very interesting and easy since you don't have to boil the noodles (i dont like using the "no-boil" noodles).

I was thinking maybe melba toasts would work, i love them and they are very dry so probably would be able to with stand the liquid content of the recipe.

btw Julieta and Laurie, my family makes that too, we dont really have a cool name like yours but we just call it enchillada casserole. :o)

oh and eggplant does sound awesome in this, good idea Lama... maybe even zuchini sliced long ways really thin like noodles?

 

Kim
June 11, 2008

This is great! Cause it's winter here in New Zealand! And it'll make a nice change to my 90 days straight soup idea.