Thanks to my daughter Emily for this recipe…and much more. She has been invaluable these past few months and I simply could not have accomplished a move without her (next Saturday is MOVING DAY!). Helping me get my home ready to go on sale; giving me a place to crash through 4 weeks of nonstop showings and now helping me organize, pack and move to storage from the home I’ve lived in more than 2 decades is a huge undertaking in itself. That she has also helped me in the preparation of healthy foods for Lauren AND writing the post today? Well, words simply can not express how grateful I am for her help. I did store 14 cases of booze at her place…maybe a cocktail or ten will help to soothe her weary back! Anyway, thanks for making this Spinach Lasagna Em; I stole a bite or two and I LOVED it!
Take it away Em…
Ever since I ditched cable television in favor of using an antenna, the channel I watch most frequently (and get surprisingly good reception now that it’s digital) is a offshoot PBS channel called “Create.” It has great travel shows and excellent cooking programs, including one of my favorites, America’s Test Kitchen. I love ATK, in all of its incarnations. I’ve inherited Mom’s huge collection of back-issues of Cook’s Illustrated now that she’s moving, and I love tuning in on Saturday mornings to watch Cook’s Country. Something about the show satisfies the intellectual part of my cooking brain – that bit of me that wants to fully understand the science behind the alchemy of turning assorted ingredients into culinary creations. (Guess that’s why I’m a big Alton Brown fan, too – besides the fact that he has Corgis!)
This particular recipe was featured on Cook’s Country not long ago. I decided to make this for #Waunstrong Wednesday as it is packed full of nutritious leafy greens but also tastes amazing. I love spinach, whether raw or cooked, and this recipe does not shy away from the leafy green. If you’re not keen on the green, you’d probably be better off making something else; but if Popeye is your homeboy, you’re going to love it.
Creamy ricotta and mozzarella are stacked in layers along with the spinach and a simple tomato sauce which makes for a hearty and satisfying meal. As a meatless alternative to traditional lasagna, this flavorful version provides vitamin-rich and healthy leafy green vegetables. If you’re so inclined, I’m sure you could doctor it up and add some mushrooms or zucchini, but the amount called for in the recipe filled our casserole dish perfectly.
Although this is not a difficult recipe, it is certainly made easier if you have a food processor to help in the prep work and using no-boil noodles cuts down on time. We made a full recipe of this lasagna, then divided it up and packaged it into individual servings with a Food Saver and froze them so Lauren could have some quick go-to meals that she could simply reheat at work.
- 30 ounces frozen chopped spinach
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped fine
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- ⅛ tsp red pepper flakes
- 2 (28 ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
- Salt and pepper
- 6 tbsp chopped fresh basil
- 24 ounces (3 cups) whole milk or part skim ricotta cheese
- 3 ounces (1 ½ cups) Parmesan cheese, grated
- 2 large eggs
- 12 no-boil lasagna noodles
- 12 ounces (3 cups) whole milk mozzarella cheese, shredded
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees.
- Microwave spinach in covered large bowl until completely thawed, about 15 minutes, stirring half-way through. Squeeze spinach dry, reserving ⅓ cup liquid. Pulse spinach in food processor until ground, 8 to 10 pulses, scraping down bowl every few pulses. Wipe out large bowl with paper towels. Transfer spinach to now-empty bowl; set aside.
- Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, ½ cup processed spinach, 1 tsp salt, and ½ tsp pepper and cook until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Off heat, stir in 3 tbsp basil; set aside
- Process ricotta and reserved spinach liquid in food processor until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add parmesan, remaining 3 tbsp basil, eggs, 1 ½ tsp salt, and ½ tsp pepper and process until combined. Stir ricotta mixture into remaining processed spinach.
- Cover bottom of 13 by 9-inch baking dish with 1 ¼ cups sauce. Top with 3 noodles and spread one-third of ricotta mixture evenly over noodles. Sprinkle with ⅔ cup mozzarella and cover with 1 ¼ cups sauce.
- Repeat twice, beginning with noodles and ending with sauce. Top with remaining 3 noodles, remaining sauce, and remaining 1 cup mozzarella.
- Cover pan tightly with aluminum foil sprayed with vegetable oil spray and bake until bubbling around edges, about 40 minutes.
- Discard foil and continue to bake until cheese is melted, about 10 minutes. Cool on wire rack for 30 minutes. Serve.
Freezing portions for meals has worked so well for Lauren that I’m wondering why I’ve not done that for myself…good idea Em!