I have always preferred a veggie lasagna to meat lasagna. My family prefers meat lasagna over everything. I finally found a perfect marriage of the two so we are all at the ultimate satisfaction level. If you are a parent you will appreciate this… My daughter who is rail thin and always the last to finish, finished her plate before anyone else for the first time ever when I served this. It’s that good.
This is a great make ahead meal if you have time a few days before just pop it in the oven when you are ready. It is even better the next day! You can also freeze this dish in portions with great success. If you are looking for a meatless meal, simply leave out the meat! To make this gluten free, you can either use gluten free noodles or you can slice zucchini very thinly on a mandolin and make lasagna noodles out of them, it will be amazing. Salt the zucchini slices and set aside. Preheat the oven and bake them at 350* until they have released some moisture, about 15 minutes and then use them in place of the noodles.
This recipe is made even easier by using a jar of Rao’s Marinara (if I’m buying pre-made sauce it is only Rao’s). If you prefer to make your own… have at it! I wanted to make this meaty enough for my family to not take umbrage with the vegetables. I did this by using diced pancetta, cooking it down until crisp and golden. Then I add grass-fed ground beef to the pan and cook until brown. Add in 32oz. jar of marinara (or make your own if that’s how you roll) and rinse the jar with about 1 cup of water and add it to the pan. You need the water to improve the sauce when combined and this also allows you to avoid any waste left behind in the jar.
This smoky, meaty sauce is the ultimate compliment to the onion, mushroom and spinach ricotta mixture that you will be using. If you are able, add some zucchini here as well. My family made up a song about how much they hate zucchini so I have been forced to leave it out of most recipes no matter how much I love it.
I use Barilla multigrain lasagna noodles in this recipe. I am working on improving my family’s diet and this is one of those easy ways that they don’t notice a difference. Win-win.
This serves about 8-10 people.
Sauté pan or cast iron
Large mixing bowl
Lasagna dish (or any 9×13)
2T olive oil
11oz organic spinach
8oz organic sliced mushrooms of your choice, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
(Also add any vegetable that your family will enjoy here, like diced zucchini.)
1 large onion, diced
32oz. container whole milk ricotta
1c grated pecorino romano
crushed red pepper, salt and pepper to taste
4oz diced pancetta
1lb. grass-fed ground beef
32oz Rao’s Marinara
8oz whole milk mozzarella (I use Biazzo here), shredded
1c grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
12-15pc multigrain lasagna noodles, cooked to al dente
1. In the stock pot with boiling salted water, blanch the spinach. Take out and drain in colander, pressing out ay excess water. Chop and hold on the side. Cook the lasagna noodles to al dente in the same pot and hold on the side until ready to put it all together.
2. In the sautoir cook the pancetta until crisp and golden, then add the ground beef and cook until browned. Add in the sauce and the water and simmer while you prepare the remaining components.
3. In the cast iron heat the oil and add the onion, mushroom (+any other veggies) and garlic and cook until slightly golden. Season with salt, pepper, crushed red pepper. Stir in the chopped spinach, set aside to cool.
4. In the large mixing bowl place the ricotta, egg, pecorino romano, pinch of salt and pepper. When the veggies are slightly cooled mix them into the ricotta until uniform.
5. In the lasagna dish place a ladle of the meat sauce to avoid sticking, then a layer of noodles. Next a layer of the ricotta/veggie mixture, then 1/3 of the mozzarella and 1/3 of the Parm and finally a layer of the meat sauce. Repeat layering 2 more times. Finishing with any remaining sauce. Cover with parchment and foil.
6. In a 350* oven cook 40 minutes, remove the top and cook another 20 minutes, until hot and bubbly. Let sit at least 30 minutes before serving*.
*If serving another time, you can skip the baking, let cool and refrigerate. Re-heat when you are ready to eat until hot and bubbly 40 min top on, 20 min. top off (165* in the center). Let sit about 30 minutes. This allows everything to come together so that you don’t have a runny lasagna. No one wants a watery plate!
I hope you try this recipe, it is so great! As a main dish it serves 8-10, but if you are serving a small slice as an appetizer or along with a nice big salad you can get 16-20 pieces.
Enjoy and please let me know how you and your family liked it!