When vegetarians come to visit, I have several favorites that I haul out of the cobwebs from my own vegetarian days, which came to an end at the end of the previous century.
I’ve been making this vegetarian lasagna for years. Besides my substitution for her rather complex tomato sauce, it’s mostly from the classic Mollie Katzen vegetarian recipe bible The Moosewood Cookbook. While it was first published in 1977, many of her recipes have stood the test of time, and if they ain’t broke, why fix them?
For years, before my eldest son agreed to eat spinach, I made this with the cheese and sauce only, and it was delicious. Now I add the spinach – fresh only – and it’s even better.
VEGETARIAN SPINACH LASAGNA
1 batch basic tomato sauce without the onion
18-20 lasagna noodles (the ones that don’t require pre-cooking – I use Barilla)
300-400 g (10-14 oz) fresh spinach
250 g (12 oz) ricotta cheese
Salt and ground black pepper
400 g (14 oz) grated mozzarella cheese
100 g (3.5 oz) grated Parmesan cheese
How to do it
1. Prepare the tomato sauce as per the recipe, including the red wine but omitting the onion
2. Wash and chop the spinach and wilt it in a dry hot wok pan or large skillet, adding a few pinches of ground nutmeg, and drain any excess water.
3. Beat the eggs in a medium-sized bowl and add the ricotta cheese, salt and pepper and mix till smooth. Add the spinach and mix.
4. Grease a large Pyrex lasagna pan.
5. Spread about 4-5 tablespoons of tomato sauce on the bottom of the dish, just barely covering the whole surface.
6. Arrange one layer of lasagna noodles on top of the sauce (make sure there are no spaces). Break up one of the noodles to fill any gaps.
7. Carefully spread half the ricotta mixture over the noodles, making sure the noodles don’t shift (use your fingers if you need to shift them back in place), and then spread one third of the tomato sauce on top of the ricotta. Sprinkle just under half of the mozzarella over the sauce.
8. Then another layer of noodles, the rest of the ricotta mixture and another one third of the tomato sauce, followed by most of the remaining mozzarella – leaving about half a cup for the top.
9. Add the last layer of noodles and cover with the rest of the tomato sauce. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and the Parmesan cheese evenly over the top.
10. Place the lasagna in a pre-heated 180°C (350°F) oven for 30-40 minutes (or until the cheese on top is golden – don’t let it burn).
This serves about 8.