Spinach Lasagna with Ricotta, Bechamel, and Tomato Sauces
(adapted from Fine Cooking)
For the Lasagna filling:
3 cups whole milk ricotta
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
2 10-ounce packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
5 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 pound fresh lasagna noodles
1 recipe quick tomato sauce*
1 recipe bechamel sauce*
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
Make the filling:
In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-low heat and add the onion. Cook until the onion is soft and translucent, 5 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute. Add the spinach and toss it for 1 or 2 minutes to coat it with the butter. Transfer the spinach mixture to a bowl and let it cool to room temperature. Add the ricotta, Parmigiano, mozzarella, eggs, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Mix well.
Meanwhile, cook the noodles until al dente.
Assemble the lasagna:
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a 9×12 inch baking dish, spread 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce in a sparse layer on the bottom of the baking dish. Cover the sauce with a slightly overlapping layer of cooked noodles, cutting them as needed to fill the gaps. With a spatula, spread 1/3 of the spinach and ricotta filling over the layer of noodles. hen spread 1/3 of the remaining tomato sauce and 1/3 of the bechamel sauce over the filling. Sprinkle 1/3 of the Parmigiano on top. Add a new layer of noodles, overlapping them slightly, and repeat the layers as instructed, using all the filling and ending with the Parmigiano, to make a total of three layers. Dot the top with the butter cubes.
Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until heated through and bubbling at the edges.
*Quick Tomato Sauce
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
1 medium celery stalk, finely chopped
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
5 large basil leaves, chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 28-ounce can plus 1 14-ounce can plum tomatoes with juice, coarsely chopped
In a 4 quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the carrot, celery, onion, parsley, basil, salt, and pepper. Cook until the vegetables are pale gold, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the wine and cook until it evaporates, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes with the juice, stir well and simmer gently to blend the flavors and reduce the sauce to 4 1/2 cups, about 15 to 20 minutes.
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups whole milk, heated
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
small pinch freshly grated nutmeg
In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the flour and cook, whisking constantly for 2 to 3 minutes. Do not let the mixture brown. Slowly whisk in the hot milk and bring just to a simmer, whisking frequently. Reduce the heat to low and cook, whisking often, until the sauce has thickened to a creamy, gravy-like consistency and no longer tastes of raw flour, 6 to 8 minutes for a single batch and 10 to 12 minutes for a double batch. Remove from heat and whisk in the salt, pepper, and nutmeg. If not using right away, transfer to a bowl and press a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the sauce to keep a skin from forming. Plan to use the sauce within 30 minutes because it thickens if its left to sit for too long. If that should happen, add a little warm milk and whisk well to thin in.