I know, I know. What am I doing to you guys? To myself? Another recipe for gooey delicious comfort food? But before you all start shaking pitchforks or resolution lists at me, let me at least say you can find some spinach buried in the dish’s cheesy goodness. Actually, I find that this lasagna tastes a bit lighter than the average sit in your belly pasta, which comes from the addition of the green veggie and making the sauce from scratch.
An important note. I am not one to easily dismiss convenience, but I have to say I wholeheartedly disapprove of the no-cook or no-boil lasagna noodles. Preparing the noodles adds a slightly cumbersome step but the payoff of flavor soaked and perfectly subtle noodles in comparison to the tough rubbery state of the no-cook version makes the time well spent. Besides needing to cook the noodles, the below recipe allows for liberal interpretations and creative substitutes (though following the steps faithfully also produces flawless results). I tend to use whole milk ricotta and mozzarella, but substituting low-fat cheeses still makes a delectable meal. Also I tend to go light on the meat, which I think can be removed completely in exchange for an increase in spinach. The spinach sautéed in garlic really brings something special to this everyday meal.
Spinach and Garlic Lasagna
1 package lasagna noodles
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 ½ 28 ounce canned tomatoes- crushed, chopped or pureed
¾ teaspoon garlic powder
1 ½ teaspoons oregano or Italian spices
1 lb ground beef
4-6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 package frozen spinach
About 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1½ pounds ricotta cheese
1½ pounds mozzarella cheese
½ cup parmesan cheese + more for sprinkling
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 375. Lightly grease a 9 x 13pan with vegetable or olive oil.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large deep skillet or a large pot. Once hot—to test sprinkle a few drops of water into the pan, the oil should sizzle—add chopped onion. Stir frequently until the onions start to caramelize and turn brown, usually after about 15 to 20 minutes. Add tomatoes, garlic powder, oregano/Italian spices and salt and pepper to taste. Stir thoroughly. Scoop out about 2/3 cup sauce and reserve for later. Cover remaining sauce and reduce heat to low.
3. In a separate skillet, cook the ground beef thoroughly or until brown throughout. Drain fat from meat. Add ground beef to sauce. Cover sauce again and continue to simmer on low heat.
4. Heat tablespoon of olive oil in separate skillet over medium heat. Once oil is hot, add chopped garlic. Cook garlic until golden brown. Reduce heat to low and add frozen spinach and mushrooms. Cook until just heated through. Turn heat off and let stand till ready to layer.
5. Mix ricotta, 1 lb of mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese and the egg together in a large bowl.
6. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add lasagna noodles and cook as directed for al dente consistency. I usually do a minute less than the lowest time. You will probably have to cook the noodles in about 3 to 4 batches. As each batch is done. Remove from water and lay out on a cutting board or plate to cool while next batch cooks. In between batches, make lasagna layers (step below).
7. In the 9 x 13 pan, lay down one layer of noodles, covering the bottom of the pan completely. Spoon about ½ of the meat sauce onto the noodle layer, spreading with a spoon for evenness. Repeat with cheese mixture and spinach mixture. Layer another layer of noodles. Repeat process with second half of meat sauce, cheese mixture, and spinach. Layer again with remaining noodles. Spread the reserve 2/3 cup sauce over final layer of noodles. Top with remaining mozzarella. Sprinkle parmesan as desired.
8. Cover with tin foil and put in oven. If your lasagna seems dangerously close to the top of the pan and at risk of spilling over a bit, place pan on cookie sheet to prevent mess. Cook covered for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue to cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes or so.