Even though it's hot outside and a nice cool treat would be in order, I've been craving some homemade lasagna. I hadn't put my finger on a recipe I really wanted to follow, nor did I feel like phoning my grandmother for her recipe, although it's a good one. It was time I made history and did my Italian roots service by creating a custom recipe. First I must say I am in love with pesto. Anything pesto is a good idea to me. The bright green color with the creaminess of olive oil, warmth of pine nuts and freshness of basil makes me weak in the knees. Add some mozzarella to that and I won't leave the kitchen for days. I wanted to make a killer pesto lasagna that still kept it simple with ricotta and spinach... so I did.
Killer Pesto Lasagna
32 oz organic ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded parmesan
1 cup shredded pecorino romano
2 large eggs
20 oz spinach, frozen or fresh
1 1/2 cup pesto (recipe follows)
2 cloves garlic, minced, and less for the faint of heart
2 24 oz jars of tomato-basil marinara sauce
2 cups shredded mozzarella
15 thin* lasagna sheets
*Thin, square lasagna sheets are made by both commercial and specialty Italian brands. It is no boil, which makes it easier to prepare. Also, the thin consistency makes it more realistic to fresh lasagna sheets.
2 large handfuls of fresh basil
2-3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup lightly roasted pine nuts
1/8 cup parmesan cheese
a few drizzles of GOOD extra virgin olive oil
To make Pesto:
Use a food processor like a Cuisinart. It just makes like easier. Or use a blender... everyone has those, right? Place the first four ingredients in the food processor, then drizzle all over with olive oil. Pulse a few times and add more olive oil if it's too thick. Go by taste. I always do that and 86% of the time I do okay.
Now for the lasagna:
Place the minced garlic in a skillet and saute lightly in olive oil. When it becomes aromatic, add the spinach and cook until it wilts. Add a sprinkle of sea salt and dried oregano.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly oil a deep 13' glass or metal pan. Blend ricotta, parmesan, and the 2 eggs. Make sure to beat the eggs separately before adding them. Add a few sprinkles of celtic sea salt and cracked black pepper to ad a little kick.
In a separate bowl, blend spinach mixture and pesto until just combined.
Now we can begin to layer the lasagna in the dish.
Start with 1 c or so of marinara as the first layer, then add 3 sheets of lasagna, then the cheese mixture, then the spinach, then the pecorino romano cheese. Repeat in this fashion ending with marinara sauce on top and cover it with all the mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle some basil on top of you have any leftover.
Cover with foil. Bake for 40 minutes. Take off the foil, bake for about 20 minutes or until the top is bubbly and a little browned.
A whole pan will feed you several meals for about a week and a half. I don't have any problem eating cold homemade lasagna for breakfast in the summer, do you?