Don’t get me wrong, I love traditional lasagna, but when I have a batch of spinach pesto in my fridge (which I do this week- maybe you do too!) this lasagna just begs to be made instead.
It was my mother-in-law’s birthday not long ago and this meal seemed perfect. It’s winter, so a bubbling hot and hearty meal seemed in order. She’s not a big meat eater (although she tends to be game for just about anything most of the time I prefer not to make things people won’t really love on their birthdays). But she shares my love for spinach.
So, with the confluence of a spinach lover, a batch of spinach pesto waiting in the fridge, a cold and snowy winter’s night, and kids to feed to boot this seemed like the perfect middle ground.
It’s a pretty dense dish, but you can lighten it up a little bit by making sure that all the dairy you are using is labeled as “part skim” or “made with 2% milk”. It’s still a pretty decadent meal, but it was a birthday celebration! One of the top reasons to rationalize away calories!
Green and White Lasagna
9 lasagna noodles, cooked
2 lbs ricotta cheese, park skim milk
1 tsp dried parsley, crushed
1 package frozen cut spinach (10 oz.)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 cups mozzarella cheese, 2% milk
4 cups bechamel sauce (recipe below*)
1.5 cups spinach pesto
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and carefully cook 9 (I make 10 or 12 just in case some break) lasagna noodles. Once cooked remove them from the water and allow them to cool on the counter or table while you mix the cheese.
In a mixing bowl beat the two eggs with a fork. Then mix in the ricotta cheese. Once the egg is integrated sprinkle in the parsley, spinach, and Parmesan cheese, Stir vigorously to combine. Set this aside until the bechamel is made.
Once the bechamel is prepared you can begin to assemble the lasagna:
Put about 1 cup of the bechamel sauce in the bottom of the lasagna pan. On top of that place 3 lasagna noodles (go right up to the edge of the pan with them). On top of the noodles spread 1/2 cup of spinach pesto. Sprinkle 2/3 of a cup of mozzarella cheese. Spread 1.5 cups of the ricotta mixture on the mozzarella cheese. Top with 1 cup of bechamel sauce.
Repeat this layering 2 more times. After the final layer of bechamel sauce on the top sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes with a tin foil top on.
After 20 minutes remove the tin foil and bake for an additional 30 minutes.
Allow it to rest out of the oven for about 10 minutes before serving to minimize “spread” when it’s cut.
*Sauce Bechamel: Mastering the Art of French Cooking 40th Anniversary Edition page 57 (doubled and slightly adapted)
4 tbsp butter (I used unsalted)
6 tbsp flour
2 cups stock of your choice (I used chicken but vegetable would work fine too)
2 cups 2% milk
In a saucepan heat the stock and milk together to steaming.
In a heavy bottomed stainless steel pot melt the butter over a medium/low heat. Once the butter is melted toss in the four and whisk it gently to combine. Allow it to bubble and cook for 2 minutes while stirring.
Pour all of the hot liquid into the pot at once and whisk vigorously to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil while continuously whisking. Allow it to boil for 1 minute, again, while continuing to whisk. After 1 minute turn of the heat and it is ready to use.