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Lasagne

This is what constitutes a fancy meal at my house. It isn’t complicated, but does take time and planning. The recipe is based upon one my mother cut out of a magazine and I’ve eaten it nearly all my life.

Recipe First, in three parts:

1)      Meatballs

1# lean ground beef

2 Tbsp. finely chopped onion

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

2 Tbsp. finely chopped parsley

1 tsp. dried oregano leaves

½ tsp. dried basil leaves

¾ tsp. salt

Dash pepper

2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

1 egg

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients; toss lightly to mix well. Shape mixture into ¾” meatballs.  Brown the meatballs in hot olive oil in large skillet. Remove meatballs from pan, set aside.

2)      Sauce

¼ cup finely chopped onion

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

2 Tbsp. finely chopped parsley

2 14.5-oz cans chopped tomatoes, undrained

2 6-oz. cans tomato paste

2 tsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. dried basil

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. garlic powder

¼ tsp. pepper

1/8 tsp. cayenne

½ cup red wine

Saute onion, garlic, parsley in olive oil until tender. Add remaining sauce ingredients, stir well. Add meatballs. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 1-1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.

 3)  Remaining Ingredients

8-oz. lasagna pasta

1-lb. Mozzarella cheese, diced

1-lb. ricotta cheese or cottage cheese

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Prepare 10-12 lasagne noodles by boiling as package indicates. Drain and rinse.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 13X9” baking dish.

In baking dish, layer half the ingredients, in this order: lasagna, Mozzarella, Ricotta, tomato sauce with meatballs, and Parmesan; then repeat.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, uncovered, or until heated through. Let rest for 10 minutes. Serves 6-8.

The meatballs should be fairly small (no more than 3/4") so the dish as a whole stays fairly flat.

The meatballs should be fairly small (no more than 3/4″) so the dish as a whole stays fairly flat. I used fresh basil today.

I used fresh basil in the sauce, too. I like to cut everything very fine for this recipe.

I used fresh basil in the sauce, too. I like to cut everything very fine for this recipe.

This is all the meatballs.

This is all the meatballs.

Here's a picture of the sauce before it has simmered. It's a very thick sauce. Stir it occasionally.

Here’s a picture of the sauce before it has simmered. It’s a very thick sauce. Stir it occasionally.

As you can see, the sauce is dolloped on, not poured. Here is what it looks like just before going into the oven.

As you can see, the sauce is dolloped on, not poured. Here is what it looks like just before going into the oven.

Finished. Now let it rest for about ten minutes so it's easier to slice and serve.

Finished. Now let it rest for about ten minutes so it’s easier to slice and serve.

This recipe is based upon a stuffed manicotti recipe in Sunset Magazine’s December 1991 issue. I’ve made the stuffed manicotti many times, but it’s time consuming. I was looking for something more simple using the feta I love. This lasagna turned out surprisingly well. It’s a hit! Take note that I eyeballed every bit of this, I didn’t  measure anything. Feel free to do the same. One thing that I tried to keep in mind was that I didn’t want runny lasagna, so I was careful about the amount of liquid used. Another thing to keep in mind is that the spinach cooks down so the dish is a little more compact than the thick slices of hearty lasagna I usually make.

Spinach Feta Lasagna, Eggplant au Gratin, and garlic bread.

Spinach Feta Lasagna

1/2 lb. dried lasagna noodles

24 oz. tomato pasta sauce

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 large onion

1 bell pepper

3/4 cup (about 5 oz.) feta cheese, crumbled

1 cup (1/2 lb.) ricotta cheese

1/3 lb. chopped fresh spinach leaves

Ground pepper

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Cook eleven lasagna noodles (about 1/2 lb.) according to the package directions for al dente. Do NOT overcook. Drain. Rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat 24 oz. tomato pasta sauce. Simmer for awhile so it’s somewhat thick. Use a spatter guard.

Meanwhile, saute onion and bell pepper together in olive oil until soft. Let cool.

In a large bowl, stir together feta, ricotta, spinach, pepper, and onion-bell pepper mixture. You may need to use your hands as it will be quite dry. Do not squeeze, just stir together.

In a greased 9 x 13″ pan, place 5 lasagna noodles across the bottom. Distribute all  the cheese, spinach, onion mixture across the lasagna noodles. Place a layer of six noodles across the cheese mixture. You may press down a little now. Spoon pasta sauce evenly across the top. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Yummy goodness!

Cook the lasagna noodles, saute the onions with bell pepper (I used yellow bell peppers), simmer the pasta sauce using a spatter guard, and chop the raw spinach leaves.

Mix feta, ricotta, and spinach.

Place a row of lasagna noodles across the bottom of a greased 13 x 9″ baking dish.

Distribute the feta, ricotta, spinach mixture across the lasagna. Place another layer of lasagna.

Spoon pasta sauce evenly across the top.

Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over all and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

Spinach Feta Lasagna

What kind?