Spinach Zucchini Lasagne (with Eggplant Variation)

Spinach Zucchini Lasagne (with Eggplant Variation)

Serves 8

From Mad Hungry Cravings, by Lucinda Scala Quinn.  Reprinted with the author’s permission, and courtesy of Artisan Books.

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 small yellow onion, finely chopped

2 teaspoons coarse salt

2 pounds baby spinach

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

¼ cup all-purpose flour

1 quart whole milk

1 packed cup grated Parmesan cheese

¾ teaspoon freshly-grated nutmeg

¼ teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper

2 medium zucchini (about 1 pound), sliced lengthwise into ¼-inch-thick planks

8 ounces no-boil lasagna noodles

6 ounces mozzarella, shredded

1/3 packed cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F with a rack in the middle position.  Heat a large pot over medium-high heat.  Add 1 tablespoon of the oil.  When it shimmers, add the onions and ½ teaspoon of the salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent, about 3 minutes.

Add the spinach, a few handfuls at a time, to the pot and cook, stirring frequently, until wilted, 3 to 5 minutes.  Transfer the spinach to a mesh strainer set over a bowl and press against it with a wooden spoon to remove as much liquid as possible.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over high heat.  Add the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until the roux is golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes.  Add the milk, whisking, and continue whisking until the sauce begins to boil and thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.  Remove from the heat and stir in the Parmesan, 1 teaspoon salt, the nutmeg and pepper.  Cover with plastic wrap pressed against the surface.

Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Working in batches, add the zucchini and cook, turning once, until golden brown on both sides, about 2 minutes per side.  Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain and sprinkle with the remaining ½ teaspoon salt.

To assemble:  Spread 1 cup of the cream sauce over the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.  Arrange one-third of the noodles over the sauce in a single, overlapping layer.  Top with 1 cup sauce and half the spinach.  Repeat with a second layer of noodles, sauce, and spinach.  Top with the remaining noodles, remaining sauce, zucchini, mozzarella, and Pecorino.

Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 45 minutes.  Remove the foil and continue baking for 15 minutes longer, until the cheese is golden in places and the lasagna is bubbling around the edges.  Remove from the oven and let stand for 20 minutes before slicing and serving.

Eggplant Variation

In addition to the ingredients above you’ll need:

2 baby eggplant (about 8 ounces each), trimmed and sliced lengthwise into ¼ inch planks

3-4 extra no-boil noodles (enough for an overlapping layer)

1 cup good tomato sauce

4 extra ounces shredded mozzarella (10 ounces total)

Put another rack below the middle rack when preheating the oven.  Line two baking sheets with Silpats or parchment.  Put the eggplant and zucchini slices each on their own sheet, brush the slices lightly with olive oil on both sides, and sprinkle with salt.  Put the vegetables in the oven for about 30 minutes, until lightly browned.  Remove the sheets from the oven and set them aside until assembly.

Put the dish together as directed through the two spinach layers.  Make a layer of noodles, then spread the cup of tomato sauce over them.  Top with the eggplant slices, and about 4 ounces of the shredded mozzarella.  Then put on the remaining slices, the last of the cream sauce, the zucchini, remaining mozzarella, and Pecorino.  Bake as directed.

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