Spinach Lasagna

with Chef Robert Larios
Photography by Patricia M. Larios

Today we break with tradition. Traditional lasagna may call for ricotta cheese, a full-bodied marinara sauce and some kind of protein, such as ground beef or sausage. But in this recipe, meat is substituted with vegetables like spinach and zucchini. Add three kinds of cheeses and one of the four “mother sauces” called Béchamel, and this recipe stands tall among tradition. Other high flavor ingredients that could be incorporated are Anaheim peppers, mushrooms or eggplant.

¡Buen provecho!



RECIPE: Spinach Lasagna

Yields8 Servings

 ¼ cup olive oil
 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
 2 tsp sea salt
 2 lbs baby spinach
 4 tbsp unsalted butter
 1 qt milk
 1 packed cup grated Parmesan (3 ounces)
 ¼ tsp teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
 2 medium zucchini (about 1 pound), sliced lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick planks
 8 oz no-boil lasagna noodles
 6 oz mozzarella, shredded
  packed cup (1 ounce) grated Pecorino Romano

1

Step 1:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees with the rack in middle position.

2

Step 2:
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. When oil shimmers, add onions and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 3 minutes. Add spinach, a few handfuls at a time, and cook, stirring frequently until all spinach is wilted, 3-5 minutes. Transfer to a mesh strainer and press against spinach to remove as much liquid as possible.

3

Step 3:
In a medium saucepan, melt butter over high heat. Add flour and cook, whisking constantly, until roux is golden brown, 1 minute. Add milk and continue whisking until milk begins to boil and thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan, nutmeg, 1 teaspoon salt, and black pepper. Cover surface with plastic wrap.

4

Step 4:
Heat remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and fry zucchini, turning once, until golden brown on both sides, 2 minutes per side. Transfer to paper towel-lined plate to drain and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt.

5

Step 5:
Spread 1 cup Béchamel along the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Place one-third of noodles over Béchamel in a single, overlapping layer. Top with 1 cup Béchamel and half of spinach. Repeat with a second layer of noodles, Béchamel, and spinach. Top with remaining noodles, remaining Béchamel, zucchini, mozzarella, and Pecorino Romano. Cover with foil and bake 45 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking until cheese is golden in places and lasagna is bubbling along the edges, about 15 minutes.

6

Step 6:
Remove lasagna from oven and let stand 20 minutes before slicing and serving.

Ingredients

 ¼ cup olive oil
 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
 2 tsp sea salt
 2 lbs baby spinach
 4 tbsp unsalted butter
 1 qt milk
 1 packed cup grated Parmesan (3 ounces)
 ¼ tsp teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
 2 medium zucchini (about 1 pound), sliced lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick planks
 8 oz no-boil lasagna noodles
 6 oz mozzarella, shredded
  packed cup (1 ounce) grated Pecorino Romano

Directions

1

Step 1:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees with the rack in middle position.

2

Step 2:
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. When oil shimmers, add onions and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 3 minutes. Add spinach, a few handfuls at a time, and cook, stirring frequently until all spinach is wilted, 3-5 minutes. Transfer to a mesh strainer and press against spinach to remove as much liquid as possible.

3

Step 3:
In a medium saucepan, melt butter over high heat. Add flour and cook, whisking constantly, until roux is golden brown, 1 minute. Add milk and continue whisking until milk begins to boil and thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan, nutmeg, 1 teaspoon salt, and black pepper. Cover surface with plastic wrap.

4

Step 4:
Heat remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and fry zucchini, turning once, until golden brown on both sides, 2 minutes per side. Transfer to paper towel-lined plate to drain and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt.

5

Step 5:
Spread 1 cup Béchamel along the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Place one-third of noodles over Béchamel in a single, overlapping layer. Top with 1 cup Béchamel and half of spinach. Repeat with a second layer of noodles, Béchamel, and spinach. Top with remaining noodles, remaining Béchamel, zucchini, mozzarella, and Pecorino Romano. Cover with foil and bake 45 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking until cheese is golden in places and lasagna is bubbling along the edges, about 15 minutes.

6

Step 6:
Remove lasagna from oven and let stand 20 minutes before slicing and serving.

Spinach Lasagna

Cooking TIDBIT

Make It Ahead: If you don’t have nutmeg, it’s okay to do without. You may add a little heat spice such as cayenne or red pepper chili flakes. For gluten-free diets, some grocery stores carry brown rice lasagna noodles that can be used in this recipe without skipping a beat in flavor.

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