I love a good lasagna, but it can be hard to find a good vegetarian version. I am not a fan of those white-sauced vegetarian versions, and many of the typical lasagna recipes take a lot of time and many, many steps. This is not one of those recipes. I like to think of this as a weeknight lasagna since it’s pretty simple to make. Easy to assemble and with plenty of tomato sauce and cheese, but with some spinach to add some nutrition!
One of the things that makes this recipe easy so is that you don’t have to pre-cook the noodles, nor do you need to buy those oven-ready noodles. This recipe dates back to the days before those oven-ready, no pre-cooking needed noodles existed. Instead, it uses a larger amount of sauce than usual and the noodles soak in the extra liquid.
The not-so-easy part is that this recipe requires some planning to ensure that the noodles have time to soak in that liquid. You need to make assemble this at least 8 hours in advance, but it can be made up to 24 hours before you plan to cook it. Trust me, if you don’t wait, you will end up with a crunchy lasagna. I know this due to an unfortunate Christmas dinner that featured a less-than-perfectly cooked dish! The good news is that this lasagna is a perfect make ahead meal! Assemble one night (or one morning) and have dinner all ready to pop in the oven. About an hour later, you are ready to eat!
On a personal note, this recipe actually comes from my step-mother. I am fortunate to come from a family that has great cooks on all sides. In addition to my two parents who passed along their love of cooking, my step-mother is also a great cook. She and my dad married when I was in middle school, and I spent many weekends looking through her cookbook collection and learning new recipes. Her mother was also a terrific baker and sent me some wonderful care packages in college filled with her cookies. We lost her mom a few years ago and I am currently involved in a project to organize her recipes and ensure that they are retained for future generations. Once I have some ready, I’ll share! Till then, this lasagna is a great meal!
One more note. I made this in a 9×13 pan. While this worked, it made for a fairly flat lasagna. For the best results use and 8×8 or 9×9 pan.
- 1 ~16 oz package of frozen, chopped spinach
- 15 oz ricotta cheese (low-fat is fine)
- 1/2 cup shredded parmesan
- 1 jar or ~24 oz of marinara sauce
- 5-6 oz uncooked lasagna noodles (NOT oven ready, normal noodles)
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- Defrost the spinach in the microwave or overnight in the fridge. Once thawed, squeeze out the excess moisture. I usually place the spinach in the center of a clean kitchen towel or several layers of paper towels and then fold up and squeeze over the sink as much as possible. If you use a kitchen towel, be aware that this could stain it a bit green.
- In a large bowl, mix the spinach, ricotta, and parmesan together till well-blended.
- Spoon a thin layer of marinara sauce over the entire bottom of the pan. Add a layer of lasagna noodles on top. You may need to break some of the noodles to fill the gaps.
- Spoon another thin layer of sauce in to lightly cover the noodles. Then add a layer of the spinach ricotta mixture. Add another thin layer of sauce.
- Repeat the layers of noodles, sauce, ricotta, sauce until all of the ingredients are used up. Be sure to end with a layer of noodles and sauce. Then cover the top with the shredded mozzarella.
- Cover the whole pan tightly with foil and store in the fridge for at least 8 hrs and up to 24 hrs.
- Cook at 350 F for 45 minutes covered with foil. Uncover and cook 20 additional minutes till the cheese is melted and bubbly.