Let’s make some lasagna!
Lasagna is one of my favorite things to make. It does take a little bit of time, but with the help of no-boil noodles, it’s fairly simple to do. If you’re really pinched for time, you can use store-bought sauce.
Seriously, this pasta is the best.
I have to admit something – the following sauce recipe is not my usual sauce. Usually, I start with a 32oz can of crushed tomatoes, but today I don’t have crushed tomatoes in my pantry. And it’s cold outside. And I don’t want to drive to the store. But I do have tomato paste in my pantry, so let’s see what we can do.
This is cooking for real life, and in real life our pantries aren’t always stocked with all of the ingredients we need.
I was surprised at how well this sauce turned out, and my husband said this might be my best lasagna yet. The sauce had so much flavor! I’m definitely using this recipe from now on.
To make the sauce, you’ll first saute onion and garlic in olive oil and butter. Then, you’ll add tomato puree, water, bouillon paste, and herbs, and let it simmer for a while to thicken and build flavor. Finally, you’ll stir in some vinegar to boost the flavor. I like using balsamic vinegar in my sauce.
Fun fact: this particular balsamic is older than me! My best friend Emily and I went on a trip a few years ago to celebrate our 25th birthdays and bought 25-year-old balsamic at this cute shop in Fish Creek, Wisconsin. It makes me chuckle.
To make the cheese and greens layer, you’ll mix together eggs, cheese (three kinds!), salt, pepper, oregano, and chopped greens.
Finally, you’ll layer everything along with pesto for added flavor, and bake it.
The hardest part about making lasagna is that you have to resist eating it as soon as you take it out of the oven. Letting it rest for about 15 minutes ensures that all those tasty layers stay in place and don’t ooze everywhere when you cut it. My husband hovers like a vulture and asks, “Can we eat it yet?”
Feel free to double the recipe. Lasagna leftovers are the best leftovers!
Lasagna with Pesto & Greens
Makes 4 servings
About 8 no-boil lasagna noodles (or about half of a 9oz box)
6oz basil pesto (also called pesto genovese)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/4 teaspoon salt
9oz tomato paste
1 teaspoon vegetable Better than Bouillon paste
3 cups water
1/2 tablespoon died oregano
1/2 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar
Cheese and Greens Layer
15oz ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1.5 cups shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
2 large eggs, beaten
5oz chopped greens (such as baby spinach, kale, mustard greens, collard greens, or a mixture), thawed if frozen
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
pepper, to taste
Deep 9x9inch baking dish
Deep saute pan
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
2. Heat olive oil and butter in a deep saute pan over medium heat on the stove.
3. Add onion and salt and saute until translucent; a bit of browning is fine. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
4. Add in tomato paste, bouillon paste, and water and stir to combine. Bring mixture to a simmer, and reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in oregano and basil. Continue to cook about 30 minutes until thickened, stirring frequently and scraping the bottom and sides of the pan. Remove from heat and stir in balsamic vinegar.
Tip: The sauce will bubble, so you can top the pot with a cover askew – this will protect you and your stove-top from splatter, while allowing the steam to escape and sauce to thicken.
5. In a medium bowl, mix together ricotta, beaten eggs, 1 cup mozzarella, 1 cup parmigiano-reggiano, chopped greens, oregano, salt, and pepper.
6. Begin layering your lasagna. Spoon about 1 cup sauce into bottom of baking dish and spread to cover (don’t be too skimpy with the sauce here or the noodles may stick to the pan). Lay two noodles side-by-side on the bottom of the baking dish, just on top of the sauce. Spread 2 tablespoons pesto over noodles. Spread 1/3 of cheese mixture over pesto. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of mozzarella and 1/8 cup parmigiano-reggiano on top of that. Dollop 3/4 cup of sauce over cheeses, and top with two more noodles. Repeat layering two more times, so you have three layers of cheese and four layers of noodles. Spoon remaining sauce on top of the last layer of noodles, and sprinkle top with remaining mozzrella and parmigiano-reggiano cheese. Season the top with freshly ground black pepper, to taste.
7. Bake for 40 minutes, until top of lasagna begins to brown. Remove from oven and let rest for 15 minutes before cutting.
Make ahead: Lasagna can be assembled up to a day ahead, then covered and refrigerated. Remove lasagna from the fridge and let it come to room temperature (cold bakeware in a hot oven = cracked bakeware). Bake as directed above.