spinach and ricotta lasagne
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Lasagne is the best pasta. It took me a while to work out that ‘lasagne’ is actually used in the same grammatical fashion as ‘tagliatelle’ or spaghetti’ – it means the type of pasta in the plural. You grab a handful of it, stir it in with the sauce, top with cheese and bake in the oven or just cook and dress.
I love proper lasagne with the ragu sauce – the ultimate comfort food, the best cheesy, bubbly, meaty carb fix, not much can beat that. But veggie lasagne needn’t be boring either – you can make it with aubergines, courgettes and a good tomato sauce – or with spinach, like here.
Béchamel also needn’t be daunting. I can make as good béchamel as anybody, but creating cheese sauce is so simple – boil the cream down to desired thickness and you’re laughing. Add the cheese and you’ve got sauce even thicker than you desire.
It doesn’t take long either – true, perhaps it’s not a weekday dinner when you come home from work, but you can make two or three trays of the stuff and happily freeze them.
spinach and ricotta lasagne
- Serves two.
- 300ml double cream
- 100ml full fat milk
- 1tsp grated nutmeg
- 1 clove of garlic, pressed
- 1tsp plain flour
- 100g grated parmesan
- 700g frozen spinach (or 1kg fresh)
- 150g ricotta cheese
- 50g blue cheese, Stilton, Roquefort or other
- 9-10 lasagne sheets, fresh or dried
- 200g grated or sliced cooking mozzarella
- salt and pepper
Pour the cream and almost all of the milk into a saucepan, add the nutmeg and garlic and some salt and pepper. Bring it to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for at least 10 minutes. Check for thickness – you might not need to add flour but if it looks too thin, mix the flour with a little remaining cold milk and add to the sauce. Keep the sauce on the simmer for 5 minutes longer, whisking or stirring every so often. Add a third of the parmesan and mix well.
Place the frozen spinach in a microwavable bowl and microwave on half power for 5 minutes, then on full power for 3 minutes. If using fresh spinach, wash it and microwave for 2 minutes until completely wilted. Leave to cool.
Squeeze as much moisture as you can from the spinach and chop it roughly. Mix with the ricotta and the blue cheese and season with salt and pepper.
Lightly butter a baking dish 20 x 20cm or similar and at least 6cm deep. Now build the lasagne as follows: a third of the sauce, 2 ½ lasagne sheets, half the spinach mixture, a third of the mozzarella, 2 ½ lasagne sheets, a third of the sauce, the other half of spinach, a third of mozzarella, 2 ½ lasagne sheets, remaining third of the sauce, remaining third of the mozzarella and the remaining parmesan on top.
Bake in the oven preheated to 180C/350F/gas4 for about 50-60 minutes until bubbling and golden on top.