Spinach & Ricotta Lasagna
This is my favourite lasagna. I’ve been making this for years and even after all this time, I haven’t found a flaw in the recipe, nothing I’d tweak or add. This dish isn’t what I’d call easy to make as it has quite a few steps to complete and I wouldn’t say it’s cheap either, because it requires quite a large quantity of baby spinach. But it is indeed very good, so I’d definitely say it’s worth the time and the money.
First, you have to make the besciamella, which is easy but takes a little time and patience. Then, the spinach needs to be cooked, which will turn what seems like an enormous quantity of leaves into an alarmingly small pile of willowy green spinach, but that’s ok, you’ll see. The rest isn’t too difficult, the toasted pine nuts are ready in under five minutes and the assembling of the whole thing isn’t hard at all.
I don’t have much else to add, I’d rather let this lasagna speak for itself. When you take it out of the oven and start to serve it, it’ll sort of collapse a little, with the melted cheese spreading everywhere and the nutty and spinachy smell of it will really have your mouth watering. As for the taste, it’s as heavenly as a really good and comforting lasagna will ever be!
For the Besciamella:
850ml/3½ cups milk
45g/3Tblsp unsalted butter
45g/3 Tblsp all-purpose flour
1 bay leaf
60g/½ cup Parmesan, grated
Salt and pepper
To make the besciamella sauce, place milk, butter, flour and bay leaf together in a saucepan, giving it a good seasoning. Then, over a medium heat, whisk everything continuously until it thickens. Turn the heat down and let the sauce cook for 5 minutes. Next, stir in ¾ (50 g) of the Parmesan, then remove the sauce from the hob, discard the bay leaf and put clingfilm over the saucepan to prevent a skin from forming.
For the Lasagna:
600g/ 1 pound baby spinach
250g/1 cup (1 tub) ricotta
About 10-14 lasagne sheets
45g/3 Tblsp pine nuts, pan fried for 1 minute
A knob of butter
200g/1 cup Gorgonzola or other blue cheese, crumbled
200g/1 cup Mozarella, grated
Salt and pepper, to taste
If you don’t have the already washed spinach that comes in bags, wash the leaves well and dry them. Melt the butter in a large saucepan and once sizzling, start adding the spinach in batches, sprinkling with a little salt as you go. With the saucepan set over medium heat, allow the leaves to cook for about 2-3 minutes, with the lid on, turning them over after the first minute. Once ready, the leaves should look willowy and moist. Put the spinach in a colander to drain. When it’s cool enough to handle, squeeze it with your hands as well as possible, to remove all the excess water. Put your squeezed spinach on a cutting board and chop it well. Then, place it in a bowl and mix with the ricotta cheese, 150 ml of the besciamella sauce and the crumbled gorgonzola; give everything a nice seasoning of salt and pepper and mix well.
To assemble the lasagna, spread about ¼ of the besciamella sauce into the bottom of the dish followed by a third of the spinach mixture, then a few toasted pine nuts. Next, place the lasagna sheets on top of this (you may need to tear some of the sheets so as to make them fit). Repeat the whole process, but this time also add a third of the Mozzarella before scattering with the pine nuts, then place the sheets. Repeat again and finish with a layer of lasagna sheets, the rest of the sauce and the remaining Mozarella and Parmesan.