Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Spinach Lasagna

Ah,  lasagna....  Sauce.  Cheese. Pasta.  Cheese.  Spinach. More cheese.  What's not to love?  I was never a huge fan of lasagna growing up, probably because I never cared for ground beef that much.  But a few years back I stumbled upon this recipe and it quickly became one of my favorite dinners.  This lasagna is my go to recipe any time I'm bringing a meal to someone at church or someone who's had a new baby.  Maybe people are just being nice to me, but everyone who eats it raves about it.  I think it's a winner, folks!

This lasagna often appears as one of my meatless meals for the week.  It's easy to assemble and freezes beautifully (freeze it uncooked.  Allow it to thaw overnight in the fridge before cooking the next day).  The noodles don't have to be precooked, so it's fast and easy to assemble.  I'll often make a few at a time and stick the extras in the freezer as my "back-up plan" for those days I know I won't have time to cook.  The recipe I'm posting makes one 9x13 pan or two 8x8 pans and makes 8-10 servings.  The original recipes comes from the Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen.

Here's what you need:

  • 2 jars of pasta sauce (about 6 cups) 
  • 12 lasagna noodles -I use 100% whole grain noodles.  There is no need to buy "no-boil" noodles
  • 1 pound ricotta  or cottage cheese - often, I will use homemade ricotta cheese.  Otherwise, be sure to buy good ricotta or cottage cheese.  Check the ingredients - it should pretty much say "milk" and that's it!!!  
  • 6 oz of spinach (a few big handfuls) -from the store or fresh from the garden!
  • 1 pound of grated mozzarella cheese (about 4 cups) -Provolone is good too!
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese 

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease or oil pan.

2.  Assemble the lasagna as follows:

  1. Sauce (1/4 of it)
  2. Noodles (1/3 of them)
  3. Ricotta/Cottage Cheese (1/2 of it)
  4. Sauce (1/4 of it)
  5. Spinach (1/2 of it)
  6. Mozzarella (1/2 of it)
  7. Noodles (1/3 of them)
  8. Ricotta/Cottage Cheese (last 1/2 of it)
  9. Sauce (1/4 of it)
  10. Spinach (last 1/2 of it)
  11. Mozzarella (last 1/2 of it)
  12. Noodles (last 1/3 of them)
  13. Sauce (last 1/4 of it)
3.  Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil.  Place pan on a baking sheet (to catch spills) and place in the oven to bake for 1 hour, undisturbed.

4.  After 1 hour, remove from oven.  Take off the foil and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.  Return to oven and bake 15-20 minutes more, or until golden brown on top.

5.  Remove lasagna from oven and allow it to rest and cool for 15 minutes before serving.  This helps the lasagna set up, so you can slice it into neat pieces.  

For you visual folks (like me!), I took photos of each step, so you can see how I did it.  I was making two 8x8 pans, which means I had to divide the ingredients between two lasagnas, so it looks a little different than if you were making one 9x13 pan.  

1.  Sauce

2. Noodles (break them up to make them fit)

3. Ricotta/Cottage Cheese

4. Sauce

5. Spinach

6. Mozzarella

7. Noodles

8.  Ricotta/Cottage Cheese

9. Sauce

10. Spinach

11.  Mozzarella

12. Noodles

13.  Sauce

Cover tightly with foil (I wash and reuse the same piece over and over!).  Bake at 350 for 1 hour.

Remove from oven and sprinkle with 1/2 cup of Parmesan.  Stick it back in the oven and bake 15-20 minutes longer.

Allow lasagna to rest and cool for at least 15 minutes.  Beat off small children as they try to snitch bites of gooey cheese.  Enjoy!

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