Thursday, February 8, 2007

Spinach Lasagne

This Lasagne has its roots in Jennie Grossinger's "Art of Jewish Cooking" (which is unfortunately out of print).

Two epiphanies with this recipe: three (3) lasagne noodles fit, side by side, in a lasagne pan (i used to only put in two rows); and tofu tastes good as the main "cheese".

Additionally, there are two "cheese" options- use either cottage cheese (two 1 lb tubs), or make "ricotta" out of firm tofu.

I'll add a photo the next time that I make this, but am posting this now due to requests :)

Spinach Lasagne

Total preparation time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
In oven: 30 minutes

1 recipe tomato sauce (follows)
9 lasagne noodles, cooked according to package directions, then laid out on aluminum foil after draining to ensure that they don't stick together
10 oz of mozzarella cheese, grated (note: can substitute soy mozzarella without much taste difference)
spinach: either 2 lbs of fresh spinach(adult is preferable to baby) or 1 lb. bag of frozen chopped spinach
soft cheese: either 2 lbs of cottage cheese, or 1 recipe of tofu ricotta cheese (follows)
1 9" x 13" greased lasagne pan; pyrex preferable.

  1. preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit

  2. cook the spinach:
if using fresh: devein (tear off the tough stalks), wash, then put the spinach in a large pot with the washing water still on it; set on medium heat, and cover.

after 2 minutes, stir and then cover again. keep checking and stirring till it is all wilted- soft, dark green, and shrunk to about 20% of its size in volume.

then, squeeze the spinach (putting it in a colander and pressing down with a spoon works) to get rid of the moisture, then chop it up so it's easier to eat (no long stringy pieces) If you lay it out on a cutting board, and chop down so that you form a 1" by 1" matrix, that works very well.

if using frozen: one way to defrost is to put the frozen spinach in your (large) pasta colander; and then when the lasagne noodles are done, pour the boiling pasta water over the spinach. the spinach will get defrosted and drained all in one step :) alternatively, defrost in the microwave and then drain of excess water (see draining method for fresh spinach, above). if you get frozen chopped spinach; no extra chopping is necessary.

Then, after the spinach is done, mix it in with the soft cheese.

3. assemble the lasagne:
put about 1/2 cup of sauce in the bottom of the 9" x 13" pan.
then, layer on the noodles-3 noodles in a single layer
next, 1/2 of the soft cheese/spinach mix
next, 1/2 of the mozzarella cheese,
then, enough sauce to cover the cheese (about a cup)

second layer:
noodles, then just enough sauce to cover (1/4 cup or so), then another layer of noodles;
then repeat above soft cheese, mozzarella, then sauce; saving a little mozzarella to sprinkle over the top.

4. Cover with aluminum foil, and bake at 350.
after 20 minutes, take off the aluminum foil, and bake for 10 minutes more till bubbling.


Tomato Sauce- 10 minutes ; + simmering time

This is a basic tomato sauce; I find the key parts are the green pepper, sugar (my secret ingredient!) and basil. I find that I usually use 3/4 of the sauce when putting together a lasagne; you can either heat up the extra sauce to serve alongside; or freeze it and then make half the recipe next time you make lasagne :)

1 medium green pepper, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 cans crushed tomatoes
1 Tb olive oil
2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp white sugar
2 tsp diced garlic
salt and pepper to taste

1. dice peppers and onions into very small pieces; I usually use the chopping blade on my food-processor.

2. heat the oil in a medium-large pot, and then sautee the peppers and onions together for 5 minutes

3. add the garlic; sautee 2 more minutes; then add the tomatoes and spices, and simmer for at least 10 minutes.

The sauce is done! it can be simmered indefinitely while preparing the other components of the lasagne.

Tofu Ricotta Cheese

5 minutes to prepare

from recipe source

  • 2 lbs (2 cakes, packed in water) Firm tofu
  • 1/3 cup Lemon juice
  • 4 tsp Sugar
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 4 Tb Olive Oil
  • 2 tsp dry Basil (or 2 Tb fresh minced)
  • 1 tsp minced or crushed Garlic

  1. Drain the tofu lightly (do not press it; just take the tofu out of the tub and discard the water)
  2. Mash the tofu, then mix in the rest of the ingredients; adjusting salt and sugar for taste.

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