The Baby Lasagne

If you are my friend and you’ve had a baby any time over the past 20 years or so, you’ve probably been the recipient of what Howard has dubbed “The Baby Lasagne”. It’s a spinach lasagne that I’ve actually been making for more than 20 years. I started making it when I was in college.

Now, it’s a team effort. Usually, Howard and I make a mini-assembly line, and we make two: one for us and one for friends.

The Baby Lasagne always seems to be a hit. Of course, one reason it’s always popular is the convenience of having a prepared dinner available when you are indisposed. It also tastes really good. To me, lasagne is comfort food. I like to make it, I like to eat it, and I like to give it away to friends that need a meal waiting in the fridge or the freezer. I deliver it cooked, so it can be eaten right away or frozen for later.

Our friends Lauren and John just adopted a baby girl from Ethiopia. Naturally, we made them a baby lasagne. They say they remember the one we brought over 15 years ago when their son was born. (Note that the lasagne is also an excuse to be able to meet the baby soon after her arrival!) We wish them much joy with the newest addition to their family.

A few things about this lasagne. These might seem sacrilegious, but it’s the truth:

For the sauce, use whatever you like. It can be homemade or not. I hate to admit it, but I am a big fan of Trader Joe’s Tuscano Marinara Sauce. It comes in a 28 ounce can, not even a jar. It is sort of chunky and has a fresh tomato taste. I can’t figure out why I even tried it to begin with, but I’m hooked. I even like to eat it from a spoon right out of the can. That’s what I usually use in this dish.

As for the noodles, I used to cook the lasagne noodles. Then, my friend Sue told me that her Italian (living in Italy, not Italian-American) mother-in-law used uncooked noodles, not even the no-boil kind, but the kind you usually cook. I suspended disbelief and tried it. It worked! Making lasagne has never been the same. I especially like how you can press down on the dried noodles to make the layers even.

Spinach Lasagne
Adapted from Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen
Serves 6 – 8

4½ – 5 cups tomato sauce (your favorite; homemade or otherwise)
1 box lasagne noodles, uncooked

Spinach Filling:

  • 1 lb ricotta cheese
  • 8 – 10 oz fresh spinach, cleaned, stemmed, and chopped fine in the food processor
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 2 Tbsp wheat germ
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to taste

8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
½ cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

Preheat the oven to 375F.

In a 13×9-inch baking dish, layer the ingredients as follows, spreading each ingredient to cover the entire layer:

  • Cover the bottom of the pan with a thin layer of tomato sauce
  • Make a layer of dried lasagne noodles
  • Half of the spinach filling
  • One-third of the remaining tomato sauce
  • Half of the shredded lasagne
  • Another layer of dried lasagna noodles
  • Remaining spinach filling
  • Another third of the tomato sauce
  • The rest of the shredded mozzarella
  • Another layer of dried lasagne noodles
  • The rest of the tomato sauce
  • The Parmesan/Romano cheese

Cover with foil, and bake for 35 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes. Let it rest at least 10 minutes before serving.

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Posted on 20 April 2010, in General and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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