I love this vegetarian twist on a classic lasagne – full of spring greens. It’s a bit messy to make, but delicious to eat; the ricotta mixture is much thicker than the béchamel sauce used in a traditional lasagne, so don’t worry that it doesn’t form a perfectly smooth layer … it all evens out in the oven. I use Vannella ricotta and buffalo mozzarella and Mutti passata. Pesto is quick to whizz up (see my recipe) or cheat and use a good commercial one. Barilla lasagne sheets don’t need to be pre-cooked, the moisture from the sauce softens them as they bake, just be sure it says ‘no pre-cook’ (or similar) on the pack. You can assemble the dish and refrigerate it for a few hours or overnight before cooking, and leftovers keep refrigerated for up to 5 days … in fact it’s even better reheated, so don’t be afraid to double the quantities and make two dishes. Charteris chardonnay from New Zealand is a great match for the cheese in this recipe, it walks the line between a new world chardonnay and a French Chablis.
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 500g baby spinach leaves
- Salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 500g ricotta
- 1½ cups freshly grated parmesan
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 9 sheets lasagne
- 2 zucchini, thinly sliced on the diagonal
- ½ cup basil pesto
- 1 ball buffalo mozzarella, torn
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 red onion, finely diced
- Salt flakes, to taste
- 1½ cups tomato passata
Here’s all you need to know about cooking pasta perfectly (scroll down to Q&A).
- Make Tomato Sauce: place oil in a saucepan over medium heat, stir in onion and salt, cover and cook for about 10 minutes, until soft. Stir in passata, bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes then set aside.
- Heat oil in a large, high-sided frying pan over low heat. Add spinach and salt, cover and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until spinach is just wilted. Depending on the size of your pan, you may need to add spinach in batches as each lot wilts a little to make room for more. Tip into a strainer to drain.
- Combine ricotta, 1 cup of parmesan, egg and plenty of pepper. Set aside.
- Smear a little Tomato Sauce on the base of a baking dish large enough to hold 3 lasagne sheets.
- Top with 3 lasagne sheets, almost half of the remaining Tomato Sauce and a layer of zucchini slices.
- Sprinkle with salt, drizzle with half the pesto and scatter half the spinach over the top.
- Top with half the ricotta mixture, smoothing it out as much as possible.
- Repeat the layering of 3 lasagne sheets, remaining Tomato Sauce (except for about ¼ cup), zucchini, salt, pesto and ricotta mixture.
- Add remaining lasagne sheets, smear remaining Tomato Sauce over them and top with mozzarella and remaining parmesan and press down gently.
- Set lasagne aside for at least 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat oven to 200°C.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, until well coloured.
- Slice and serve.