Adapted from “How to Cook Everything” by Mark Bittman
This lasagna recipe is a dreamy classic, perfect for a cozy night in, or for feeding a crowd. When making lasagna, or any other heavy-assembly recipe, do yourself a favor and double the ingredients to make extra, or several little ones to freeze. While the original recipe is perfect, I recently made it with a few shortcuts for a family gathering, and still got rave reviews.
2 boxes oven-ready lasagna noodles (huge time saver, and I did not use all from the second box)
2 jars of high quality tomato sauce (I like Mezzetta and Rao’s)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cups frozen spinach (about 2 packages)
1 1/2 cups whole milk ricotta
2 cups mozzarella, freshly, coarsely grated
2 cups Parmesan, freshly, finely grated
3 tablespoons butter, cubed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pour spinach into a colander and set it in your sink. Run warm water over the spinach to thaw and allow to drain. You don’t want soupy lasagna, so I use a potato ricer to squeeze all the extra moisture out of the spinach and set on a clean kitchen towel.
Assemble your ingredients station. Butter or oil a large baking dish (I used a 16 x 10” stoneware pan). Add a large ladle full of sauce and spread around the pan. Put a layer of noodles on top of the sauce, top with more sauce, then a third of the spinach. Next, add dollops of ricotta (using one-fourth), and sprinkle with a healthy amount of mozzarella and Parmesan. Season this first layer with salt and pepper.
Repeat the layers twice (sauce, noodles, sauce, spinach, ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, salt, pepper). Top with one more layer of noodles, tomato sauce, ricotta, mozzarella and Parmesan. Dot the top of the lasagna evenly with cubes of butter, At this point, you can wrap tightly with plastic and freeze, or bake.
To bake, move your rack to the center of your oven preheat to 400°F. Unwrap lasagna and cover with aluminum foil. Bake covered for 45 minutes. Remove aluminum and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted, bubbling and lightly browned on top. Remove from the oven and allow to rest slightly before serving (will cut easier this way).