Spinach and Artichoke Lasagna

So many of us love that yummy appetizer of gooey, cheesy spinach artichoke dip while dining out!  And, who doesn’t love lasagna?!?!  This kinda combines the two.   However, it is definitely not your typical, traditional red sauce, meaty lasagna.  (There is neither in this recipe!)  It’s a perfect recipe for vegetarians … yeah for my daughter, Marah!  Also, it can be made in advance and popped in the oven when you’re ready to have dinner!

The two main components of this dish (besides the pasta) are a bechamel sauce (a white sauce) and a veggie, ricotta mixture. 

Begin by thawing out a 16 oz. bag of frozen spinach.  I do this in the microwave.  When it is completely defrosted, squeeze out all of the liquid from the spinach – either in your hands or by using a clean kitchen towel.  It should look like this:

Then, using roughly 5 – 6 oz. of a can (mine come in 8.5 oz. cans) of artichoke hearts, chop into large chunks. (Use artichoke hearts canned in water, not marinated).

Now it’s time to make the white sauce.  Begin by melting 1 stick of butter in a large skillet on low heat.  Once melted, sprinkle in 1/3 c. of flour.

Whisk and allow to cook for a couple of minutes until frothy and bubbly. 

Next, whisk in 3 1/2 cups of heavy cream, milk or half-and-half.  I use half-and-half.  Continue whisking until lumps are gone and the consistency of the sauce resembles pancake batter.  Add in 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg (optional), 1 teaspoon each of salt and garlic powder and 1 1/2 teaspoons of black pepper.

Whisk to combine.  Turn off heat and set aside.

Now, saute 1/2 of a large onion (chopped) in some olive oil in a separate sauce pan on medium heat.  Cook for a few minutes, then add in the artichokes, spinach and 2 – 3 diced cloves of garlic.

Stir to combine, then shut off heat.  Set aside.

Next, combine 16 oz. of whole milk ricotta cheese with a sprinkling of black pepper and 1 beaten egg in a large mixing bowl.  Gently fold in cooled veggies.

This is the point where we being assembling the lasagna.  Coat a 9″ x 13″ or comparable casserole dish with non-stick spray.  Then, spread some of the white sauce on the bottom of the pan and top with three no-cook lasagna noodles.  Then, spread a layer of the ricotta veggie mixture on the noodles.

Because there is often cream cheese in spinach artichoke dip, I use a couple of ounces of cream cheese in this recipe.  Break off little bits of cream cheese (about 1 oz. per layer – twice in this dish) … and scatter around on top of the ricotta veggie layer.  Then, top with a few ounces of shredded mozzarella and a good sprinkling of grated parmesan.

Next, add another layer of noodles, then a layer of cream sauce and a good sprinkling of grated parmesan.  Then, noodles, ricotta veggie mixture, cream cheese, mozzarella and parmesan.  Then, another layer of noodles.  Top with a layer of white sauce, lots of mozzarella cheese and grated parmesan.

Cover tightly with foil that has been coated with non-stick spray on the side that will touch the lasagna.  Bake on a baking sheet covered for 1 hour at 350º, then uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes.  It’s done when noodles are tender, lasagna is bubbly and top is golden brown.  Remove from oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes to set. 

Slice and serve with a little shaved parmesan on top.

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