August 27, 2014

spinach lasagna

Yum
 One of the most delicious comfort foods you can make... or at least that is my opinion. ;)  It reminds me of Sunday dinners with the family, all gathered around the table, catching up and talking about life.  Sweet memories! 

Best thing about this lasagna, besides how amazing it taste, is the fact that you don't pre-cook the noodles.  I feel that is the biggest pain about making this layered dish.  I always seem to burn myself trying to get them out of the water and then when trying to lay them flat without touching the other noodles... so they don't stick.  Ohhhh the joy!  So I love just being able to assemble this and pop it in the oven. :)

  Plus, let me be honest... I think the noodles turn out better this way!  Don't' tell Grandma, but I think lasagna noodles can tend to end up mushy, hardly being able to tell they are there.  This way they cook to an al dente and come out perfect!

Not a vegetarian?  You can add the cooked meat of your choice directly to the tomato sauce and it will still come out delicious! :)

Servings 4-6
Total Time 1 hour 35 minutes

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 6 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 3 cups canned chopped tomatoes, drained (reserve 1/2 cup of juice)
  • 1, 6 ounce can tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • course salt
  • 4 cups finely chopped fresh spinach
  • 2 cups ricotta
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
  • 6 uncooked lasagna noodles  
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella 


INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.


Heat the olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat; add onions and saute until they start to soften, about 3 minutes.  Add the chopped garlic, fennel, and dried basil and cook for an additional 3 minutes.


Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, Italian seasoning, sugar, and 1/2 cup tomato juice.  Stir in salt to taste (I added 2 teaspoons, but I used unsalted tomatoes that I canned myself, so you may want to check and see if the tomatoes you are using are already salted) and return to a simmer.  Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes.  Set aside. 


While the sauce is cooking, in a large mixing bowl, mix together the spinach, ricotta, eggs, parsley, and parmesan. 



In a well greased 9 x 12 inch dish spread one large spoonful of sauce (just enough to wet the bottom).  Lay 3 uncooked lasagna noodles across the dish.  Cover with 1/2 the tomato sauce, spreading it across the noodles so they're all covered with sauce.  Then add 1/2 the spinach mixture, spreading it out with a rubber scraper, and sprinkle with 1 cup of the mozzarella.  Make a second layer of lasagna noodles (I had to use 4 the second time), tomato sauce, spinach mixture, and cheese.  


Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake 50-60 minutes without removing the foil.  Take the dish out of the oven and remove foil.  (I used a toothpick to check and see if the noodles were fairly soft at this point.  If they aren't I would cook a few more minutes with the foil on.)  Cook 20-25 minutes more with foil removed, or until the lasagna noodles are soft, and the lasagna is bubbling and lightly browned on top.  
Let lasagna cool 5-10 minutes before cutting; then cut into pieces and serve hot.


Enjoy!!!

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