I am a big fan of classic Italian-American red sauce joints and the iconic dishes they serve. Chicken parm – yes. Baked ziti – more, please. Pasta fazool – you know it. The king of them all, usually the pride of the kitchen and somebody’s Nonna’s treasured recipe, is lasagna. The mile-high, layered construction of tender pasta, creamy ricotta, lively tomato sauce, and more cheese baked to golden-brown, bubbly perfection – be still my heart.
I’ve made many lasagnas in my ‘career’ as a home cook, sometimes with meat but more often as a vegetarian affair. This particular recipe is new to me and while it's definitely not a "classic" lasagna (no béchamel sauce) it is still a winner thanks to a simple set of instructions and time-saving ingredients like no-boil lasagna noodles, frozen spinach, and store-bought or previously homemade sauce.
If you use canned or jarred tomato sauce (as per the recipe) I recommend doctoring it up with herbs and spices, onions and garlic before using it in the lasagna. Yes, it adds a little extra time but the results will be well worth the effort.
Final recommendation: More cheese! In all things! Truer words were never spoken.
Click on the photos to enlarge them and read the captions.
Recipe source: Chowhound
- 1 (15- to 16-ounce) container whole-milk ricotta cheese
- 2 (10-ounce) boxes frozen spinach, thawed and excess liquid squeezed out
- 1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)
- 2 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 (14.5-ounce) cans tomato sauce or jarred marinara sauce OR homemade sauce
- 1 (8- to 9-ounce) box no-boil lasagna noodles (12 noodles)
- 1 pound whole-milk mozzarella cheese, sliced 1/4 inch thick OR shredded mozzarella
- Vegetable or olive oil
- Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
- Place the ricotta, spinach, half of the Parmesan, the garlic, and the egg in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Mix until combined.
- Spread 3/4 cup of the tomato sauce in a thin layer over the bottom of a 13-by-9-inch baking dish.
- Construct the lasagna by layering 3 of the noodles over the sauce. Top with another 3/4 cup of the tomato sauce and spread it evenly to the edges of the dish. Using a small spoon, dollop a third of the ricotta mixture (about 1 cup) evenly over the sauce and flatten the dollops with the back of the spoon (the ricotta mixture will spread out more when it heats up). Evenly lay a quarter of the mozzarella slices over the ricotta.
- Make 2 more layers of noodles, sauce, ricotta mixture, and mozzarella. Top with the remaining noodles, sauce, and mozzarella. Evenly sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan.
- Coat 1 side of a large piece of aluminum foil with vegetable or olive oil and cover the dish tightly with the foil, oil-side down.
- Bake until the sauce is starting to bubble around the edges, about 40 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until the top is browned, about 20 minutes more.
- Remove the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes before slicing.