Spinach and ricotta lasagna ...mangia mangia!

I love lasagna! LOVE IT! Every time I bring Olivia for her doctor’s appointment in St-Leonard (a suburb of Montreal) I stop by Pastadoro and pick up 2 large trays of the best lasagna in town. That said, I have not made lasagna myself for many many years…as in 20! Not sure why …maybe I found it too time consuming…yet every now and again I have thought of making it.

Fast forward 20 years and miraculously I have developed more patience (at least in the kitchen) and I want to give it a whirl again. For my first attempt, I have decided to make a spinach and ricotta lasagna! Just the thought of it has had me salivating all week! I purchased all the necessary ingredients including a beautiful dish I picked up at Winners to cook it in. I know…nuts!

Why spinach and ricotta and not a traditional lasagna?

A.       I’ve had my fill of meat this week

B.       I LOVE SPINACH

C.       It’s not a dish I have had the pleasure of eating very often

As I sit here in the school cafeteria waiting for my son to finish his French class, I am writing this blog post, psyching myself for the challenge and reviewing the steps I need to follow to create this masterpiece. It’s all about getting organized!

Now for the recipe…

NOTE: To make my life easier and because I do not have the patience nor the tools YET to make my own pasta, I purchased Barilla dry pasta (the one you have to boil first) and NOT oven-ready

INGREDIENTS FOR THE FILLING

  • 3 cups of ricotta **drain in a fine sieve set over a bowl for 1 hour, or longer if the ricotta is very wet** I used Tre Stelle ricotta and it wasn’t wet at all

  • 1 large bag (750grams)  of frozen chopped spinach, thawed **place in a clean dish cloth and squeeze dry

  • 2 oz. (1/4 cup) unsalted butter

  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)

  • 3 medium cloves of garlic, minced

  • 1/2 cup of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten

  • 1 tsp. of salt

  • 1/2 tsp. of ground black pepper

  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium-low heat and add the onion. Cook until the onion is soft and translucent (approximately 5 to 8 minutes). Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the spinach and toss it for one or two minutes until well combined. Transfer the spinach mixture to a bowl and let it cool to room temperature. Add the ricotta, Parmigiano, eggs, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Mix well. Makes approximately 5 cups.

 ASSEMBLY

  • 1 box of Barilla dry lasagna noodles **boil per package instructions and lay to dry on damp clean dishcloths

  • 5 cups of tomato sauce **see my recipe

  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

  • Grated mozzarella for the top layer

NOTE: the recipe I followed also called for Béchamel sauce, which I made, but would not include next time around

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Choose a 9 x12 baking dish that is 3 inches deep. First spread a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. Cover the sauce with a slightly overlapping layer of cooked noodles. Then spread half of the spinach and ricotta filling over the first layer of noodles. Then spread a thick layer of tomato sauce.  Add a new layer of noodles, overlapping them slightly, and repeat as instructed above, using all of the filling and ending with a sprinkling of Parmigiano and another layer of overlapping pasta, to make a total of two layers. Cover the top with a generous amount of grated mozzarella.

Put the baking dish on a baking sheet and bake until heated through and bubbling at the edges, 45 to 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

It was heavenly!

Source:  Fine cooking


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