Although this vegetarian spinach lasagna varies slightly from the traditional version of this classic Italian dish, it is equally delicious and filling. A flavorful homemade tomato sauce enrobes three layers of pasta filled with a creamy, cheesy spinach mixture and topped with golden baked mozzarella for an irresistibly mouth-watering meal. Although authentic lasagna is made with fresh noodles, you can use dried pasta or even green pasta, called lasagne verdi, for an even greater spinach factor.
Speaking of spinach, feel free to substitute frozen for fresh if that’s all you have on hand, or if you want to make this recipe when spinach isn’t in season. Swiss chard may also work well. If using frozen spinach, make sure to thaw it and squeeze out any excess moisture before preparing the filling to avoid ending up with watery lasagna.
For a make-ahead option, simply prepare the lasagna as outlined below, cover with foil, and place in the fridge for up to two days. Lasagna also freezes well.Print
For the Sauce
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
- 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2/3 cup white wine
- 1 1/8 c. tomato puree
- 1 cup water
- ¼ cup milk
For the Filling
- 1 ½ tablespoons butter
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 5 cups fresh spinach, chopped
- 2 cups ricotta cheese
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- Pinch of ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
For the Lasagna
- 9 lasagna noodles
- 2 ¼ cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- Freshly chopped basil (optional, for garnish)
- Grated parmesan cheese (optional, for garnish)
To Prepare the Sauce:
- Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat, then add the carrot, celery, and onion. Cook for about 20 minutes.
- Pour in the white wine and continue to cook until the wine evaporates.
- Add the tomato puree and water, and simmer for about 2 hours over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Add more water if necessary. When done, the sauce should be thick, and almost all of the liquid should be evaporated.
- Add salt and pepper to taste, then pour in the milk, mix well, and simmer for a few more minutes. Set aside.
To Prepare the Filling:
- While the tomato sauce is simmering, prepare the filling.
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Then add the garlic and sauté for 2 minutes.
- Add the spinach and continue sautéing until the spinach is wilted, about 3-4 minutes.
- Transfer the spinach to a large bowl with the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, egg, and seasonings. Mix well and set aside.
To Prepare the Lasagna:
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Cook the lasagna noodles in boiling water until al dente, then set aside.
- Spread a thin layer of the tomato sauce on the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish.
- Arrange 3 lasagna noodles followed by half of the spinach mixture, ½ cup mozzarella, and 1 cup of the tomato sauce. Repeat for the second layer.
- Top with the remaining 3 lasagna noodles, tomato sauce, and mozzarella.
- Cover the pan with foil and bake for 45 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cheese is golden brown. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.
- Garnish with fresh basil and Parmesan cheese, if desired.