Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Lasagna Bolognese with Spinach

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The winter weather has me craving hearty pasta dishes. With quite a few tomatoes on hand, it was apparent that it was time for me to make some homemade pasta sauce to freeze. I decided on a pasta dish involving a bolognese sauce because of the richness of flavors and texture it has. That lead me to this recipe from Gourmet which combines bolognese with layers of spinach and bechamel sauce. The original recipe makes a full 9x12 pan of lasagna but I halved the recipe and baked my lasagna in a standard loaf pan. This prevents us from having lasagna for days on end and I like a thick & tall lasagna better than a wide & short one!

Lasagna Bolognese with Spinach
recipe adapted from Gourmet
For bolognese sauce:
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
3 slices center cut bacon, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
1 celery rib, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 pounds ground pork
3/4 cup dry white wine
3/4 cups 2% milk
3-4 tablespoons tomato paste
3/4 teaspoon thyme leaves

1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach,thawed

For Ricotta filling:
1 (15-ounce) container whole-milk ricotta
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/3 cup 2% milk, divided

For assembling lasagne:
6 Barilla no-boil dried lasagne noodles (from 1 box)
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Make Sauce:
Heat oil in a 12-to 14-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until it shimmers. Cook bacon, onion, carrot, celery, and garlic, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened, roughly 12 to 15 minutes. Add pork and cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up any lumps, until meat is no longer pink, 6 to 10 minutes. Stir in wine, milk, tomato paste, thyme, and salt & pepper to taste. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until most of liquid has evaporated but sauce is still moist, about 1 hour.
Make ricotta filling:
Wring spinach in a kitchen towel (not terry cloth) and twist to squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Set aside.

Whisk together ricotta, eggs, parmesan, nutmeg, milk and salt & pepper to taste.

Assemble and bake lasagne:
Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle.
Spread a couple tablespoons of bolognese sauce in loaf pan and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon parmesan. Cover with 1-2 dry noodles, leaving space in between. Spread half of ricotta filling and top with spinach; then 1 cup bolognese sauce, and top with 1 tablespoon parmesan and 1-2 noodles; repeat. Top with remaining bolognese sauce, 1 tablespoon parmesan, and remaining 1-2 noodles. Pour reserved ricotta mixture over top and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup parmesan.
Cover pan tightly with parchment paper and foil (or just buttered foil) and bake 50 minutes. Remove foil and bake until top is browned in spots, about 15 minutes more. Let stand 15 to 30 minutes before cutting.

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