In case you couldn’t tell from my last post, today is a cool & cloudy day in my part of Oregon. What better day than today to share my *favorite* comfort food recipe – Lasagna!!
Oh, just looking at the gooey cheese dripping down the sides makes me so happy!
This is an adaption combined from my own recipe and from Giada DeLaurentis‘ lasagna recipe with béchamal sauce, in her cookbook, Everyday Italian. I replaced ground beef with a leaner meat, Elk, and added in a large package of spinach. It is a real crowd-pleaser and is wonderful as a meat dish or as a vegetarian dish (just omit the meat).
Meat Lasagna with Spinach and Béchamal Sauce
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus 2 tablespoons for the lasagna
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 cups whole milk at room temperature
- Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
- Salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pound ground chuck beef or Elk meat
- Salt and pepper
- 1 1/2 pounds ricotta cheese
- 3 large eggs
- 1 pound lasagna sheets (I use the “ready to bake” kind)
- 1 large package of fresh spinach
- 3 cups shredded mozzarella
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
In a 2-quart pot, melt 5 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. When butter has completely melted, add the flour and whisk until smooth, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the milk, whisking constantly to prevent any lumps from forming. Continue to simmer and whisk over medium heat until the sauce is thick, smooth and creamy, about 10 minutes. The sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of wooden spoon. Remove from heat and add the nutmeg and tomato sauce. Stir until well combined and check for seasoning. Set aside and allow to cool completely.
In a saute pan, heat extra-virgin olive oil. When almost smoking, add the ground beef (or Elk meat) and season with salt and pepper. Brown meat, breaking any large lumps, until it is no longer pink. Remove from heat and drain any excess fat. Set aside and allow to cool completely.
In a medium-sized bowl, thoroughly mix the ricotta, eggs, and spinach. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Combine the béchamel sauce and the tomato sauce together. This will be used as your primary sauce when putting the lasagna layers together.
Into the bottom of a 13 by 9-inch baking dish, spread 1/3 of the béchamel sauce. Arrange the pasta sheets side by side, covering the bottom of the baking dish. Evenly spread a layer of all the ricotta mixture. Arrange another layer of pasta sheets and spread all the meat on top. Sprinkle 1/2 the mozzarella cheese on top of the meat. Spread another 1/3 of the béchamel sauce. Arrange the final layer of pasta sheets and top with remaining béchamel, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Cut the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter into 1/4-inch cubes and top lasagna.
Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place lasagna dish on top, cover and put on the middle rack of the oven and bake until top is bubbling, about 30 minutes. Remove cover and continue to bake for about 15 minutes.