Although we’re unabashed carnivores in our family, some of our best friends don’t eat any meat. So I’m constantly looking for new recipes that I can add to my repertoire that are hearty and tempting, whether you’re a vegetarian or not. I was thrilled when this Creamy Spinach Lasagna was a big hit among all my friends when I served it at a recent gathering. Filled with heart-healthy vegetables and a surprisingly low-fat béchamel (cream sauce), this lasagna delivers layers of yummy goodness for everyone that eats it. This is best prepared when you have plenty of time on your hands, though, as the multi-step process is somewhat involved and it has a long cook time. But don’t let that prevent you from preparing it! Simply assemble the lasagna, then pop it in the oven, set the timer, and catch up on household chores, watch some shows on your DVR, or enjoy our latest book club pick while it bakes to delicious, bubbly perfection.
Packed with heart-healthy vegetables and smothered in a surprisingly low-fat cream sauce, our Cream Spinach Lasagna is a hit among carnivores and vegetarians alike.
PREP: 20 minutes
COOK: 85 minutes + 20 minutes resting time
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 pounds spinach, trimmed and washed in water bath
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 quart whole milk
- 1 packed cup grated Parmesan (3 ounces)
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 medium zucchini (about 1 pound), sliced lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick planks
- 8 ounces no-boil lasagna noodles
- 1 cup mozzarella, shredded (6 ounces)
- 1/3 packed cup grated Pecorino Romano (1 ounce)
- Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle position.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. When oil shimmers, add onions and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 3 minutes. Add spinach, a few handfuls at a time, and cook, stirring frequently, until all spinach is wilted, 3-5 minutes. Transfer to a mesh strainer and press against spinach to remove as much liquid as possible.
- In a medium saucepan, melt butter over high heat. Add flour and cook, whisking constantly, until roux is golden brown, 1 minute. Add milk and continue whisking until milk begins to boil and thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan, nutmeg, 1 teaspoon salt, and black pepper. Cover surface with plastic wrap.
- Heat remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and fry zucchini, turning once, until golden brown on both sides, 2 minutes per side. Transfer to paper towel-lined plate to drain and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt.
- Spread 1 cup béchamel along the bottom of a 9- x 13-inch baking dish. Place one-third of noodles over béchamel in a single, overlapping layer. Top with 1 cup béchamel and half of spinach. Repeat with a second layer of noodles, béchamel, and spinach. Top with remaining noodles, remaining béchamel, zucchini, mozzarella, and Pecorino Romano. Cover with foil and bake 45 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking until cheese is golden in places and lasagna is bubbling along the edges, about 15 minutes.
- Remove lasagna from oven and let stand 20 minutes before slicing and serving.
TIPS: This lasagna may be made a day ahead and stored in the refrigerator overnight. Before serving, bring lasagna back to room temperature before putting it back in the oven at 375°F and cooking until warmed through, about 15 minutes. Serve with a tossed salad and crusty herb bread for a complete meal.
YIELDS: 8 servings
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