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Recipe

Spinach & Ricotta Lasagne

Scott Phillips

Servings: eight to ten.

The ultimate vegetarian lasagne is made with a quick homemade tomato sauce and even quicker besciamella (cream sauce) for layering with the rich spinach-and-ricotta filling. Made-from-scratch lasagna noodles are thinner and more delicate than store-bought, and meld better with the sauces. But if time is short, you can still get excellent results from store-bought fresh pasta sheets or even good-quality dried noodles. To spread out the cooking, make the tomato sauce and pasta one day ahead, and make the cream sauce while you’re waiting for the pasta water to boil. The assembled lasagne can be refrigerated overnight or frozen before baking (see Make-Ahead Tips, below).

Ingredients

For the filling

  • 1-1/2 lb. (about 3 cups) whole milk ricotta
  • 2 lb. fresh spinach, or 2 10-oz. packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 2 oz. (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch freshly grated nutmeg

To assemble:

Nutritional Information

      Nutritional Sample Size based on ten servings
      Calories (kcal) : 470
      Fat Calories (kcal): 250
      Fat (g): 28
      Saturated Fat (g): 15
      Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1.5
      Monounsaturated Fat (g): 10
      Cholesterol (mg): 165
      Sodium (mg): 920
      Carbohydrates (g): 33
      Fiber (g): 5
      Protein (g): 20

Preparation

Make the filling:

  • Drain the ricotta in a fine sieve set over a bowl for 1 hour, or longer if the ricotta is very wet.
  • If using fresh spinach, stem and rinse it well; don’t dry the leaves. In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat, cook the spinach until wilted, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain well, squeeze out the excess moisture, and chop finely. If using thawed frozen spinach, squeeze it dry.
  • Melt the butter in a 10- or 12-inch skillet 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, eggs, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Mix well. You should have about 4-1/2 cups.

Cook the noodles:

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare a large bowl of ice water. Slip the noodles, two or three at a time, into the boiling water and cook them until they’re tender and pale, 3 to 5 minutes (thinner noodles will cook more quickly). To make sure they’re done, taste a small piece. If it’s still tough, it needs a little more cooking (fresh pasta should not be cooked al dente like dried pasta).
  • Carefully scoop the noodles out of the pot with a large wire skimmer and slide them into the ice water to stop the cooking. When they’re cool, layer them between clean dish towels until you’re ready to assemble the lasagne (The noodles will keep this way for up to 2 hours).

Assemble the lasagne:

  • Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Choose a baking dish that’s about 9×12 inches and 3 inches deep, or about 10×14 inches and 2 inches deep. 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 one-third of the spinach and ricotta filling (about 1-1/2 cups) over the first layer of noodles. Then spread one-third of the remaining tomato sauce (about 1-1/3 cups) and one-third (1/2 cup) of the cream sauce over the filling. Sprinkle 1/3 cup of the Parmigiano on top. Add a new layer of noodles, overlapping them slightly, and repeat the layers as instructed above, using all of the filling and ending with the Parmigiano, to make a total of three layers (you may not need all the pasta). Dot the top with the butter cubes.
  • Put the baking dish on a baking sheet and bake until heated through and bubbling at the edges, 45 to 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Make Ahead Tips

You can make the spinach and ricotta filling up to 4 hours ahead and store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

The assembled, unbaked lasagne will keep for at least a day in the refrigerator. Alternatively, you can freeze it for up to four months (make sure you wrap the dish tightly with plastic). Thaw the lasagne in the fridge and bring it to room temperature before baking.

Tip

If time is short and you can’t find fresh pasta sheets in your local stores, substitute 1 lb. of good-quality dried lasagne noodles for the fresh noodles. Skip the cooking instructions below and cook them according to the package directions.

Reviews

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Reviews

  • User avater
    chefaresty | 06/27/2017

    This was fabulous. I made my own ricotta the day before and it made a very special meal. I skipped the cream sauce entirely. I used very good flat (no ruffle) Italian pasta sheets and a sturdy leafy green spinach.

  • Janet1608 | 05/30/2017

    reduced ingredients as I was only cooking for 2 & used dried lasagne sheets.Although it did require a lot of pots it didn't take that long. Made the spinach first & while that was cooling I started on the tomato. While that was simmering I got on with the white sauce.I used the cheats method- add some of the cold milk, butter, flour etc to pot & heat-stirring constantly-adding more milk until its at the required thickness.Works every time.My husband is not a great lasagne fan but I have been advised that this is a keeper. Wouldn't change a thing.

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