Teri’s going to be mad I stole spinach lasagna to blog about, but I made a batch yesterday and have truly mastered the art of prepping two spinach lasagnas- one to eat, one to give away- at once since it is my go to Meal on Wheels. Plus 9 out of 10 times when I make it I get asked for the recipe so it’ll be handy to have up here- it’s really, really good. My husband is always very excited when someone has a baby because it means spinach lasagna for us. In fact, I had stuck one in the freezer [note: this was the first time I had frozen this lasagna, and Jeff said it came out kind of soggy. I am going to try again and not soak the noodles for the freezer lasagna to see if it makes a difference. You CAN, however, totally make this a day ahead and keep it in the fridge and I often do as it is fiddly and require a good 45 minutes of uninterrupted kitchen time to prep, which I do not often have during the week unless I want to cook during naptime, and I never sacrifice a naptime unless I absolutely have to…] and Jeff had it Thursday and did not complain when I absentmindedly served it again on Tuesday. It’s a favorite.
Spinach Lasagna (Adopted to make 2 lasagnas, each serving 4, from Cook’s Illustrated)
1 tablespoon table salt
20-24 ounces spinach, depending on the size of your store’s bagged spinach
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon unsalted butter for baking dish
5 large shallots , minced (about 1 cup)
4 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (generous 1 tablespoon)
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3 1/2 cups whole milk
2 bay leaves
3/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup)
Cheeses and Pasta
8 ounces whole milk cottage cheese
1 large egg
1/4 teaspoon table salt
16 no-boil lasagna noodles from 1 box
2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 cup)
8 ounces mozzarella cheese , shredded (about 2 cups)
One 8×8 pyrex for the lasagna you plan on keeping, and one 8×8 DEEP foil pan for the lasagna you plan on dropping off. Or even better, a slightly bigger pan (see pictured) so you don’t have lasagna spilling all over your car as you try to load supper and two children in at once. Suitable sized foil pans are something I spend way, way too much time thinking about.
Bring a pot of water to boil. While you do that, you can dice up the shallots and garlic (I use my mini chopper or small food processor bowl for this as you will use it again later and it’s a lot of shallots) and get started on the bechamel. Whenever the water comes to a boil, put the spinach in and toss w/tongs until just wilted. Drain and set aside to cool.
For the bechamel, melt the 5 tbsp butter in a big saucepan. Add shallots and garlic and cook til translucent. Whisk in the flour, and then whisk in the milk, very slowly. Add bay leaves, nutmeg, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile (there are a lot of meanwhiles here but it goes quicker if you do one thing while waiting for another) fill your pyrex with hot tap water. Put the noodles in the water (I do this two at a time, alternating directions so each layer is perpendicular- I find this reduces the odds of them sticking together) and let soak. Grate/shred your cheeses, if you haven’t already. Put the spinach in a clean kitchen towel, wring all the liquid you can from it, and then chop it up and set aside. Put the cottage cheese, egg, and remaining salt in your minichopper/food processor and process until smooth.
After ten minutes remove your bechamel from the heat, and take out the bay leaves. Whisk in 1/2 cup grated parmesan.
To assemble the lasagna- take the noodles out of your pyrex and lay them on kitchen towels (you need a lot of clean kitchen towels for this recipe). Dry your pyrex, and butter it and the foil pan. Place 1/4 cup bechamel at the bottom of each pan and spread around with a rubber spatula. Put two noodles on top. (I am going to give directions here on out for one lasagna, but assume I say repeat with other pan of lasagna after each step.)
Whisk the chopped spinach into the bechamel, stirring well so there are no clumps. Top the noodles with 1/2 c spinach mixture, spread evenly, and top with 1/2 c parmesan. Top with 2 more noodles. Spread another 1/2 c spinach mixture on top. Sprinkle evenly with 1/2 mozzarella. Top with 2 more noodles. Spread 1/2 cup spinach mixture on top. Spread with 1/2 of the cottage cheese mixture. Top with 2 more noodles, 1/2 the remaining spinach mixture, and 1/2 cup mozzarella. Cover with foil.
When you are ready to actually bake the lasagna:
-Bake, covered, at 425 for 20-25 minutes (until bubbling).
-Remove foil. Broil 4-6 minutes (until spotty brown).
-Cool 10 minutes.
-Serve and enjoy!
I write out that last bit so often I decided to make a printable recipe card version to save time. So if you are making a lasagna to share, you can just print this onto a 4×6 card and tape it to the lasagna: