Spinach and Cheese Beef Lasagna — 4 stars

Apparently, I lied when I said I’d really keep up with my regular posts.  I’d apologize, but that’s getting old now.  Oh well.

A few weeks ago, I made an excellent Spinach and Cheese Beef Lasagna for a dinner party a few weeks ago.  I hadn’t made lasagna in a while (in my case, a while equals over a year), and I thought it would make for a good one-dish meal.  Who doesn’t like spinach and cheese and beef?

AND carrots.  Seeing carrots in the ingredient list through me off for a bit.  I considered omitting the carrots in favor of more spinach or beef, but in the end I kept them.  No one noticed the carrots until I pointed them out during dinner.  I considered halving the recipe since I was only have three people over (three boys and myself) for dinner, but  talked me out of that.  I’m glad he did, because we finished off at least 2/3 of the lasagna.  The meat sauce came together easily, as did the spinach and cheese mixture.  The meat sauce was A LOT of sauce.  As in, I had 1/2 cup or 1 cup of sauce leftover.  I used my giant 9×13 Corelle baking dish, and it was filled to the brim.  I didn’t even use all the noodles the recipe called for — not enough space!

The lasagna was really good (as most lasagna is).  I LOVE no-boil noodles.  Food engineering is amazing.  I don’t think the center of my lasanga got to a high enough temperature, though, as the center noodles were chewy, and tasted a little bit undercooked.  The sauce could have used more garlic…as in about twice as much as suggested.  I bought a can of "crushed tomatoes with italian seasoning" instead of "crushed tomatoes with basil," but I’m sure they’re practically the same thing.

In conclusion: I’ll make this for another dinner party some day.  But not too soon, because it did take a bit of work.

Meat Sauce
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup shredded carrots
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 pound 11 ounces (90% lean) ground beef (or maybe ground turkey)
1 (28oz) can crushed tomato with basil
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 bay leaf


Cheese & Spinach Filling
10 ounces frozen spinach, barely cooked in the microwave, drained and cooled
1 pound shredded whole milk mozzarella
15oz tub of whole milk ricotta


Assembly
9×13 baking dish
12 (no boil) lasagna sheets (8"x4" each)

Method:
1. Heat oil in a medium pot on medium high heat. Stir in onions, bay leaf and soften for about a minute. Add carrots and stir around for another minute. Stir in tomato paste until well distributed.
 
2. Add ground beef and stir around until browned, about 5 minutes.
 
3. Add crushed tomatoes and garlic. Bring to boil. Stir and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
 
4. Remove from heat and remove bay leaf. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F while meat sauce cools a bit.

Cheese & Spinach Filling:
1. Ring out spinach with paper towels.
2. In a medium sized bowl , combine spinach, mozzarella, and ricotta.

Assembly:
1. Spread 1 cup of meat sauce on the bottom of the pan.
2. Lay 4 sheets of lasagna down.
3. Spread 1/3 of cheese and spinach filling on top of lasagna sheets. Spread a little more than 1 cup of meat sauce on top.
4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 two more times. Lay another layer of lasagna sheets on top. Cover with remaining meat sauce. Spread remaining cheese mixture on top. If you have parmesan, sprinkle it on top now.

5. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove aluminum foil and bake for another 5 minutes (I turned on the broiler for 5 mins). Take it out of the oven. Continue grinning and jumping with joy about how gorgeous it looks and smells. Let it cool for 5-10 mins, then cut yourself a big cheheeeeeesy chunk!

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