Company's Comin' Spinach Lasagna

Company's Comin' Spinach Lasagna

Company's Comin' Spinach Lasagna

My husband and I both have mother's who used lasagna as a go-to company meal. It was a wonderful meal for parties and potlucks and other events because it was so easy to make ahead of time, and you can easily make multiple pans at once if needed. My recipe is a variation on my own family recipe and a few I have adapted in the past. This recipe has many many possible variations, so I will list a few of the options I have used underneath.

I can cut the calories of the traditional "comfort food" lasagna in several ways. I use whole wheat noodles (be aware, these due tend to fall apart more during cooking, so I end up using a whole package to make sure I have enough intact ones to use). I use part-skim ricotta, parmesan, and mozzarella. You could also use only one egg, but I really like using two because I find it holds together better.  I also use spinach in the cheese mixture. I use olive oil in the sauce instead of sausage and ground beef (for meat lasagna, see the bottom).

This recipe is a bit more time consuming than a lot of the recipes I post here because the sauce has to stew a bit, but it is well-worth the effort. Since, it works fabulously to make it ahead of time, hopefully you will give it a shot. Believe me, you will not be disappointed.

This recipe freezes really well uncooked, but be aware that it take A LONG time to thaw in the fridge. When you try to cook it before it's mostly thawed...which I accidentally end up doing pretty much every time I make it from the frozen state...it has a very long cooking time. One other option which I will discuss later is just freezing the sauce since that is the part that takes the longest, but is super easy to thaw and use.

Any way you slice it (pun?), this lasagna is a delicious way to impress your guests.  Bon Appetit!

Ingredients:

Sauce:

one handful or so of fresh basil- coarsely chopped

1/2 small vidalia onion or 1/4 larger onion

2-4 cloves of garlic (seriously, just use four. I love garlic)

a few swirls of olive oil in the pot

1 tablespoon of salt

2 tablespoons of sugar (you could probably decrease this)

1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning

1-15 oz can of diced tomatoes

1-28 oz can of crushed tomatoes

1-12 oz can of tomato paste

1-15 oz can of tomato sauce

1/3 cup of water

1/4 teaspoon of ground pepper

 

Ricotta Mixture:

1-32 oz carton of ricotta cheese

1 cup shredded parmesan cheese

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

2 eggs lightly beaten

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon dried parsley

a few large handfuls of fresh baby spinach (remove large stems)

1 package of lasagna noodles (I use whole wheat)

3 packages of sliced mozzarella cheese

small amount of fresh parsley

 

Directions:

Finely chop onion, press garlic, and coarsely chop basil. (My basil is from my sister-in-law's plant which I am plant-sitting. His name is Rathbone--named by my brother...)

Add olive oil to the bottom of pot and heat to medium. Add garlic, basil, and onion. Simmer together until the onion is translucent.

Add in diced tomatoes and spices. Stir and bring to a slight boil, Cook while stirring frequently for a few minutes.  Add in remaining ingredients: crushed tomatoes, sauce, paste, water, and pepper. Simmer in pot partially covered on low for 45 min- 1 hour. Stir occasionally.

In a large bowl, combine ricotta and both types of parmesan. Lightly beat eggs and whisk in. Add parsley and pepper. 

Coarsely chop spinach and stir until well-combined. 

Make noodles to box directions. I rinse them with cold water after draining because I don't like having burnt fingers. (some people use those cook in the pan ones, but I've never personally tried it).  Spray the bottom of your pan with cooking spray.

Assembly:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

1-1/2 cups of sauce into the bottom. Add layer of noodles. Then cheese mixture. Then a layer of mozzarella slices.

Repeat. (I've heard of people doing a third layer if they have a real lasagna pan. I just use a casserole dish, but I bet it would turn out great!)

Add one more layer of mozzarella slices on top. Sprinkle with some fresh parsley.

If you are making this ahead of time, put a layer of parchment paper between the cheese and aluminum foil or cover. 

At 375 degrees, bake with an aluminum foil tent for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake another 30-45 until it bubbly and brown on the edges. Depending on how hot your oven runs, you might want to turn down the temp to 350 degrees to avoid it browning on top too quickly.

Let sit 15-20 minutes before slicing.

 Enjoy!

Variations:

Meat: instead of olive oil, brown 1 lb italian sasauge and 2/3 lb ground beef. Cut the salt to 1 1/2 teaspoons. When I do a meat lasagna I don't use spinach and double the dried parsley in the ricotta mixture.

Veggie: Add vegetables to the sauce at the simmer stage. Carrots, zucchini, peppers are all good choices. 

Note: This recipe makes about 1.5x the amount of sauce you need. I freeze the rest and use it for spaghetti and meat sauce, or I wait until after I have made two fresh lasagnas and use the remainder for a third lasagna.

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