Despite having a huge belly in my eighth month of pregnancy, I have gotten to be very ambitious. At least in the kitchen. While I probably should be putting my feet up at the end of the day, I am cooking up a storm. When I had my first baby, my husband and I were so exhausted and shell-shocked that we ended up ordering out every day for weeks on end. But since I have a toddler this time around, I can’t just give him beef lo mein or shrimp pad Thai for every meal. Instead, I’m cooking lots of dishes ahead of time and freezing them. And this week, I put together a delicious vegetable lasagna. Specifically, spinach lasagna.
Despite the fact that it can be a little time-consuming and labor-intensive, lasagna is one of my favorite dishes to make. Plus, it is a wonderful dish to serve for guests. (It tastes absolutely wonderful and not many people make it, so you get extra points for the effort.) Plus it can absolutely handle being frozen and thawed. Finally, one pan of it can basically feed a small army (or one average-sized Italian family for Sunday dinner.) You pretty much can’t go wrong.
I usually opt for a meat lasagna, but since I don’t know how many nutrients my family will be getting in the weeks after I give birth, I figured I would stack the cards in our favor, and pack in the veggies in this dish. Sure, it’s still lasagna (which means there is a fair bit of cheese in it), but at least this version has vitamin-packed spinach to go along with the richness of all the dairy products in it.
- Marinara or pomodoro sauce (You want about 36 oz or so. You can make my pomodoro recipe, your own recipe, or if you must, opt for a jar of store-bought sauce. Since I’m an Italian home cook, jarred sauce is forbidden from crossing the threshold of my house, but two brands that I feel are good in a pinch are Rao’s and Victoria.)
- 1 box of lasagna noodles
- 1 ½ cups of ricotta cheese, whole milk or part skim
- 8 oz. of shredded mozzarella cheese, part skim
- 2 eggs
- ¼ cup of grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
- 2 10 oz. packets of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and wrung out of excess water
- salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350
- Set a large pot of water to boil. Be sure to add about 2 tablespoons of salt and about a tablespoon of olive oil (to keep the noodles from sticking to each other)
- Make or heat up your sauce
Next page: The step-by-step instructions with helpful pictures!
- Combine the ricotta, about 6 oz. of the mozzarella, ¼ cup of Parmesan, the spinach, eggs, and about ½ teaspoon each of salt and pepper.
- Add the noodles to the boiling water and cook until they are still slightly firm. (Since you will be putting the pan in the oven, they will cook more, so you don’t want to overcook them in the water and end up with mushy noodles.)
- Spread a light layer of sauce in the bottom of a sheet pan.
- Add a layer of noodles.
- Spread a layer of the spinach/cheese mixture on each noodle.
- Top with a little sauce.
- Add another layer of noodles and continue this process until the pan is about ¾ full or until you run out of ingredients, but make sure the top layer is noodles.
- Top the whole thing with more sauce, the rest of the mozzarella and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.
- Heat in the oven for 30 minutes.
- When cheese is melted and begins to bubble (usually after 15-20 minutes) loosely cover the pan with foil and return to the oven until the 30 minutes is up.
- Let the lasagna settle for 10-15 minutes before cutting and enjoying!