This Little Piggy Went to Market
Every few months my wife and I host or are hosted by a couple of neighbors for dinner and a movie. It’s a great way to visit, eat a delicious meal, and watch a movie although you never know what is going to be served. This time it was Spinach and Roasted Pepper Lasagna.
Last time out we were invited to see Babe Pig in the City and I thought to myself, why are they showing us a kid’s movie? I’d already seen Babe.
My daughter loved it. What are they going to serve for dinner? Macaroni and Cheese?
Well, they didn’t serve Macaroni and Cheese and the movie sure fooled me. It was a thoroughly entertaining dark comedy that I wouldn’t recommend for young kids. Way too much violence for a child to handle. What were those producers thinking about?
We were served a wonderful spinach vegetarian lasagna from a recipe found in a now-out-of-print vegetarian cookbook called The Tao of Cooking by Sally Pasley. Very apropos for watching a pig movie.
Weeks later my wife and I were in the mood for lasagna so I borrowed my neighbor’s cookbook and went to work. Of course, some changes to the recipe were in order. In the fridge, I had a bunch of left-over roasted peppers from one of those giant cans you buy at Costco that I wanted to use up.
And while making this dish I made a couple of changes to the original recipe.
The sauce for the lasagna is from the cookbook, but I made a vat of it the day before, saved some for making Sunday pizzas, and froze the rest. Also, the recipe calls for making your own lasagna noodles.
As much as I enjoy making my own pasta, I was in a hurry and found no problem with store-bought dry noodles. Once you get all your ingredients on hand, you should be able to put this together in approximately a half-hour.
I did think my lasagna was a little too liquidity the first night. Maybe I added a little too much sauce, but the leftovers were superb. Isn’t leftover lasagna always better the next night?
Think Ford Assembly Line
Making any kind of lasagna is all about assembly. You get all your ingredients together, line them up, and then start building your masterpiece.
Really doesn't matter what you add to it as long as there are sheets of pasta, cheese, and sauce. Everything else is up to you.
For this recipe, you want to remove the stems and wash the spinach thoroughly. You can measure out the cheeses, but I don't think it will hold you back if you wait until you need them.
If you are using whole mozzarella rather than the pre-grate packaged type, make sure you grate it before starting.
For the sauce, you will want to finely chop the garlic and onion and coarsely chop the canned tomatoes. As an alternative, you can always buy crushed or diced canned tomatoes.
Would fresh tomatoes be better? You bet if they're in season.
I find when I'm making lasagna, they usually aren't around so that's why I have canned tomatoes in this recipe.
Spinach and Roasted Pepper Lasagna
- 9 x 13-inch baking pan
For the lasagna
- 1 pound dry lasagna noodles
- 4 cups tomato sauce see below
- 10 ounces spinach fresh
- 1 8- ounce jar of roasted peppers
- 4 ounces cream cheese
- 1½ cups ricotta cheese
- ¾ cup Parmesan cheese freshly grated
- 1 egg
- salt & pepper to taste
- 8 ounces mozzarella cheese thinly sliced or grated
For the sauce
- 2 tablespoons olive oil extra virgin
- 1 cup onion finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon garlic finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- 4 cups tomatoes canned, coarsely chopped
- pinch sugar
- salt & pepper to taste
- Preheat your oven to 350° F. and bring an 8-quart pot of water to boil. Add the lasagna noodles one at a time and cook until tender but not so soft that they fall apart. When the noodles are cooked, drain, immerse in cold water, and lay out flat on a clean dishtowel.
- Add spinach and a bit of water to a pot, bring to boil and cook until tender, about 4 minutes. Be careful not to burn the spinach. Drain, cool, and squeeze out excess moisture.
- Using a fork, beat cream cheese until smooth, mix with ricotta, ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, and egg until well blended.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Spread a little tomato sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Those aluminum ones you buy at the supermarket work great too.
- Cover with a layer of noodles making sure to overlap the edges a little. Add a little more sauce and add some cheese mix, spinach, roasted peppers, and mozzarella.
- Add another layer of noodles and repeat the process by adding sauce, cheese mix, spinach, peppers, and mozzarella.
- Finish off by adding more noodles, sauce, remaining Parmesan cheese, and the rest of the mozzarella.
- Bake uncovered in the preheated oven for 25 minutes.
- Add a layer of aluminum foil and bake another 10 minutes.
- Remove lasagna from oven and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
How to make sauce at home
- Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil for 4 minutes.
- Add basil, tomatoes, sugar, salt & pepper. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Taste and adjust for seasoning.