Feb 12, 2009

spinach lasagna

my kids are crazy for spinach lasagna. it is the most requested dish. last night it turned out especially delicious. i got lots of compliments. lots of "i love you moms" "best mom in the universe" that sort of thing. 

this lasagna is much more than the sum of its parts, comforting, noodly goodness, with an entire pound of fresh organic baby spinach hidden inside of there.

spinach lasagna

1 box lasagna noodles 
16 oz ricotta cheese
somewhere between 6 and 16 oz mozzarella (depending on taste and type)
16 0z fresh baby spinach leaves
giant jar italian tomato basil pasta sauce
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
olive oil

i always start this process by assembling all the ingredients. it goes together quickly then. preheat oven to 375 degrees. put giant stock pot of water to boil.

hum to yourself as you open the ricotta and squeeze and wiggle the plastic container until the ricotta falls out into a medium mixing bow. grab a small wire whisk and mix in the milk. (milk? you ask, yes, milk, if you thin your ricotta with milk it is much easier to spread, and your lasagna is more liquidy-juicy and not at all dry. i learned this trick from lidia bastianich). mix in enough milk until it is about the consistency of cake batter. i never measure but it is a bit more than half a cup and can vary depending on the thickness of the particular ricotta you choose. now add a whole lot of freshly grated parmesan cheese. again, i grate and don't measure but i would guess that it is about 3/4 cup parmesan. we like a lot of parmesan

about now the stock pot should be boiling. dash over and throw all the spinach in the water. stand by with a nice mesh strainer. push all the spinach under the water. as soon as it wilts, it is done. which is immediately. now scoop it all out with the strainer into a bowl. let cool for 2 minutes. meanwhile. keep the stock pot water at a low boil. add a tablespoon of salt and 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pot. drain the water from the spinach and place it on a cutting board. chop away with a large kitchen knife. mix the chopped spinach into the ricotta milk parmesan mixture and stir till combined. now add your lasagna noodles to the stockpot. cook for 3 maybe 4 minutes tops. no more. they should still be quite undercooked (they cook more in the oven) don't listen to the package that tells you to cook them for 6 to 9 minutes, they will be overdone.

time for assembly. add a couple tablespoons tomato sauce to the bottom of the lasagna pan. layer your noodles. 3 per layer i find. leave plenty of space around them. next smear the ricotta mixture. top with some grated or slice mozzerella. but not too much. add another layer of noodles. now smear some more ricotta. so easy with a little spatula. sprinkle or layer on some more mozzarella. okay more noodles. okay repeat until you end with a layer of noodles on top. now pour the gigantic jar of italian tomato basil jar across the noodles. cover all the noodles and all the sides. now for the final step. layer on another 1/2 to 3/4 cup of freshly grated parmesan. into the oven it goes for 45 minutes. allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving. maybe serve a caesar salad with homemade croutons, or some steamed artichokes or broccoli or something and you are good to go.

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