Though this recipe would send shivers down the spine of Mario Batali, it works perfectly well in a RV kitchen and is delicious. I have made this countless times with fabulous results. Using no-boil lasagna noodles, already-shredded mozzarella and a jarred red sauce saves steps, time and dish-washing. Don’t skimp on the pasta sauce – using a good quality brand will make or break the final product. But do skimp on the no-boil/oven-ready noodles. I have had terrible results with the fancy brands from Italy and prefer Ronzoni brand in this recipe. NOTE: this filling would also be great in cannelloni tubes, giant shells or other stuffable pastas. The recipe is very adaptable. Add cooked Italian sausage, sauteed mushrooms, onions, garlic, pine nuts, olives, different herbs, artichoke hearts… whatever your family enjoys – my version is simply the easiest and requires no time at the stove.
Olive or vegetable oil for oiling the baking dish
10 oz. package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
Large handful fresh basil leaves, chopped fine (about ¼ cup)
15 or 16 oz. tub ricotta cheese (regular or low fat)
2 cups (8 oz bag) shredded mozzarella cheese (divided)
½ teaspoon Kosher salt
Black pepper, to taste
8 oz. package no-boil lasagna noodles (I use Ronzoni brand)
25.5 oz. jar pasta sauce (I like Lucini or Muir Glen)
½ cup wine (red or white!) or water
Oil a 8×8-inch baking dish.
In a small bowl, mix the spinach, chopped basil, ricotta cheese and 1½ cups of the shredded mozzarella cheese. (Reserve the remaining cheese.) Season with salt and pepper and mix well with a wooden spoon or spatula until well blended.
Pour enough pasta sauce to just cover the bottom of the baking dish.
You will need 10 sheets of oven-ready lasagna for this recipe. The package includes 12 sheets. (One will be be broken when you open the package and you will break one while working with the filling, so it all works out in the end!)
Lay two sheets of lasagna noodles down in the pan. The remaining eight pieces will be spread with the filling.
Visually – or physically – score the filling into eight equal portions. Spread each portion on a lasagna noodle – like it’s peanut butter on toast…. cream cheese on a bagel… anyway, you get the general idea.
Now – pay attention – turn the filled sheet of lasagna upside-down over the first layer of noodles.
Spread one-eighth of the filling onto another sheet of pasta and turn it upside-down over the other noodle. See! You are making lasagna! Isn’t it easy?
Next pour a little more pasta sauce over the top – just a little, just enough to coat.
Continue the procedure with the other six sheet of no-bake noodles, remembering to coat the top of the next two layers with a little sauce.
When you reach the top layer, pour the wine (or water) into the pasta sauce jar, screw the top on securely and give it a good shake. Pour this mixture over the top of the entire lasagna. It will run down the sides, but use a spoon to make sure every nook of the top layer of noodles is coated.
Sprinkle the remaining half-cup mozzarella cheese over the top.
And if you just can’t stand something not garnished – sprinkle a little dried basil or oregano over the top. This would be a good place to add some grated parmesan if you choose.
Cover with cling film – or foil.
And put the casserole in the fridge.
After baking, this lasagna is sure to please, and like life, this lasagna is full of options:
Option 1: Want it now? Forget the plastic wrap – cover the lasagna with foil and bake for thirty minutes at 350°. Remove the foil and continue to bake for another 15 minutes or until the top is browned and the sauce is bubbly. Remove from oven and let rest at least ten minutes before serving.
Option 2: Want it later tonight or tomorrow? Cover the lasagna with foil. Refrigerate the lasagna all day or overnight. Remove from fridge about one hour before baking. Bake for about 30 minutes, covered with foil, at 350°. Remove the foil and cook for an additional 15 minutes, or until the top is brown and the casserole is bubbling. Let rest at least ten minutes before serving.
Option 3: Want it next week? Next month? Try my “half-bake” method – this works great for nearly all cheesy-pasta casseroles: Bake the lasagna, uncovered, at 350° for twenty minutes. Remove from oven. Leave at room temperature to cool to the touch, then refrigerate until cold. Wrap carefully in several layers of foil and freeze. Thaw before finishing the baking process, usually around 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Let rest at least ten minutes before serving.
This casserole serves 6 (at 388 calories per serving – calculated by me, using the nutritional information on the ingredient packaging, low-fat ricotta, and a calculator).