My sister in law visits us from Nashville, Tennessee several times a year. She is a vegetarian, and when she comes to visit I like to try new vegetarian recipes. When we have family meal gatherings, my sister in law often ends up with a different meal since she’s a vegetarian; everyone has steak for dinner but she has a frozen veggie burger. Don’t get me wrong, I like frozen veggie burgers and so does she, but when she visits us I like to prepare meals we can all enjoy together. For her most recent visit, I made spinach Lasagna and it was a hit!
For the Sauce:
One tablespoon of Olive Oil (about one turn of the pan)
One yellow onion, chopped
4-6 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup of red wine (I eyeballed it). Be sure to use wine you would enjoy drinking as well as cooking with.
1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes in puree
1 16 ounce can of diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1 tablespoon of dried oregano (you can also use fresh oregano-I didn’t have any when I prepared this or I would have used fresh oregano)
8-10 basil leaves, chopped (about a handful)
Salt and pepper, to taste.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion to the pan and saute until softened, about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for another minute or until the garlic is fragrant. Add the wine to the pan and bring to a boil, scraping the onion/garlic bits from the bottom of the pan as you stir. Boil the wine for about 4-5 minutes to reduce it, then add the crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes and tomato paste and stir to combine. Add the oregano and salt and pepper to taste. Reduce the heat and allow the sauce to simmer for at least 10 minutes, but the longer you simmer it, the better it will be!
Add the basil to the sauce right before you’re ready to prepare the lasagna and stir to combine.
For the Lasagna
One package of lasagna noodles; I used the noodles that don’t have to be cooked prior to preparing the lasagna and it worked really well. If you prefer the pre-cook lasagna noodles, prepare them according to package directions.
24 ounces of ricotta cheese (I used skim milk ricotta)
One package of frozen spinach, thawed and drained
3-4 cups of mozzarella cheese, divided (approximately, you may use more or less depending on how cheesy you like your lasagna)
1 tablespoon of chopped basil, fresh or dried
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 teaspoon of onion powder
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup of parmesan cheese
While the sauce is simmering, prepare the ricotta cheese mixture. Combine the ricotta, eggs, basil, onion and garlic powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the spinach and 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese and stir to combine.
Now you’re ready to prepare the lasagna!
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
Spray a lasagna dish or 9X13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Spread a thin layer of the sauce on the bottom of the dish; just enough to give the noodles something to “stick” to. Next, place four noodles lengthwise in the pan, overlapping slightly, then spread half of the ricotta cheese mixture over the noodles. Then, spread one third of the sauce over the ricotta mixture, and sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the sauce (approximately one third of the cheese-I eyeballed it and sprinkled evenly over the sauce).
Now, you’ll repeat the layers; place four more noodles in the dish, spread the other half of the ricotta cheese mixture over the noodles, spread one third of the sauce over the ricotta, then sprinkle more mozzarella cheese. Add one more layer of four noodles, then top with the remaining sauce. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese over the top as well as the the parmesan cheese.
Place the baking dish on a cookie sheet and bake uncovered for one hour, or until the lasagna is cooked through and the top is browned and bubbly. Remove from the oven and allow the lasagna to cool for 10-15 minutes prior to cutting and serving.