Lasagne is a comfort food. Layers of steaming hot pasta and filling with a crispy cheese topping; what is there not to love? It’s so versatile too as you can put whatever you like inside. My two favourite fillings are the one given below and also bolognaise (as is given in my recipe for Beef Lasagne).
With the first recorded recipe dating back to the 14th century, lasagne is one of the oldest foods I have researched for this blog. The original recipes used fermented dough, not pasta, and the dough was rolled out and boiled before being layered with the filling. Traditional lasagne de carnivale from Naples is stuffed with sausage, meatballs, boiled egg and Neapolitan ragu. Outside Italy, most people use a thicker ragu akin to bolognaise sauce inside and béchamel sauce on top. You may notice that I don’t put béchamel sauce on my lasagne but that is just because I don’t like it. You are perfectly welcome to swap the top layer of filling for béchamel sauce if you like and then continue with the recipe.
Spinach and ricotta is a classic pasta filling. It’s used in cannelloni, tortellini and ravioli as well as several other filled shapes. It’s incredibly easy to make at home and it is simple to tweak the recipe to your requirements – be that stronger cheese, more spinach or you just want a little extra garlic.
The recipe is particularly good for feeding a crowd as you can get six solid servings out of it!
Spinach and Ricotta Lasagne
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
Cost per portion: around £1.20
750g ricotta cheese
400g frozen spinach
1 clove garlic (minced)
150g grated cheddar cheese (or 100g parmesan)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 packet fresh lasagne sheets
150g mozzarella (grated)
Preheat the oven to gas mark 5 (1900C)
Place the spinach in the microwave with a little water and heat on the maximum poser to defrost. Make sure to stir it every few minutes.
While the spinach is defrosting put the ricotta, garlic, egg, 100g grated cheddar (or parmesan) and seasoning in a bowl and mix together. This will form a thick pasty filling.
Stir in the water to loosen up the mixture and set 60ml (a quarter of a cup) aside. This will be used on the top of the lasagne instead of béchamel sauce.
Remove the spinach from the microwave and drain through a sieve.
Use your hands to squeeze as much liquid out of the spinach as possible. You should end up with a solid ball by the end of it.
Pull the lump of spinach apart and stir it into the ricotta mix and now is time to start building the lasagne.
Lightly oil a baking tray and place a sheet of pasta on the base.
Spread out some of the filling on top and add another sheet on that.
Repeat this using up all the filling and finally top with the last sheet of pasta.
Spread out the spare cheese mixture from before and sprinkle on the mozzarella and reserved cheddar.
Bake for half an hour and then increase the temperature to gas mark 6 (2000C) for the last ten minutes to crisp up the top.
I hope you enjoyed the recipe. If you fancy making some dessert, check out my recipe for chocolate fondants or if you are looking for a slightly different main course, why not make yourself a Thai curry?
Have a good one and I’ll be back next week with a recipe for choux buns with a delicious filling.