An easy homemade vegetarian lasagna – with classic ricotta filling, tomato sauce, and lots of melty mozzarella cheese.
First things first, how was your Thanksgiving?! Did you indulge to the max, all weekend long? I definitely did; I seem to not have an “off” button Thanksgiving weekend. It stays broken until after the new year, too. Do you have this “problem” too?
I’m considering it a non-problem though because if there’s any time to cozy up and indulge a little extra, it’s this time of year. All the love, cold weather, and holidays make me crave more!
Which is precisely why I have Vegetarian Spinach Ricotta Lasagna for you today! To bring you comfort throughout these cold winter nights!
This one is just what you need: its simplicity allows lasagna’s classic flavors to shine through. The uncanny flavor of garlic, that’s essential to good Italian food; the salty parmesan and subtle ricotta, filled with earthy spinach, warm nutmeg, and a hint of spice from red pepper flakes and freshly ground pepper.
What kind of lasagna noodles should I use?
Years ago I first made homemade spinach lasagna – with homemade lasagna noodles. FRIENDS! This is life changing. And I 1000% recommend making this lasagna using homemade lasagna sheets. Take my homemade pasta recipe, and roll out the sheets to the thinnest (or second thinnest) for absolute perfection.
I’ll admit, it is a little more labor intensive to use homemade pasta noodles. There’s the making the dough, letting it rest, and you have to par-cook the noodles before assembly. But you guys, it’s SO totally worth it.
However, I know time is of the essence and if it’s a weeknight, you might not wanna go there. That’s ok! I’ll forgive you – just promise me you’ll use refrigerated lasagna sheets, please. Pretty please. It makes ALL the difference.
You can go ahead and use no-boil dried lasagna if you must, but give the fresh sheets a try. 🙂 Have I convinced you yet? Do I need to continue?!
How to Assemble Lasagna
Before assembling, you’ll cook up the spinach with garlic and shallot. You want to be sure to squeeze out the liquid from the spinach – or you’ll end up with liquidy lasagna. Then it’s time to stir together the ricotta cheese mixture, adding the spinach.
In your assembly line you’ll need:
- tomato sauce
- fresh lasagna noodles
- ricotta and spinach mixture
- extra mozzarella
Spread a little tomato sauce in the bottom of the pan and then layer as follows: pasta, ricotta spinach mixture, a little extra mozzarella if you like extra cheesiness, sauce, and then continue on with the pasta, etc.
I generally like to do three layers in the lasagna, ending with a layer of pasta on top and tomato sauce. You can layer as you wish, really, either until the layers reach the top of your baking dish or if you like to top with the ricotta mixture.
In these photos, I did 4 layers of ricotta and pasta for a pasta-heavy lasagna. Sometimes you need to carb load. And sometimes you need to add a lot of extra mozzarella because hellooooo, cheesy lasagna is the best.
P.S. This recipe is technically a smaller batch than the typical 9×13 lasagnas that feed an army. Made in either an 8×8 or 9×9 pan, this smaller batch is perfect for 2 + leftovers, or for 4 very hungry people!
I love serving a (big) slice of Vegetarian Spinach Lasagna with Caesar Salad and a glass of Chianti. Or Sangiovese. Or really, any good, dry, full-bodied red will do. Don’t forget to share your favorite way to enjoy this lasagna!
Vegetarian Spinach Ricotta Lasagna
- 12 oz. refrigerated pasta sheets or 1 batch homemade pasta dough
- 1/2 TBSP butter
- 1 shallot bulb ~2T, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves finely chopped
- Red pepper flakes to taste
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 6 oz. fresh spinach leaves chopped
- 15 oz. ricotta cheese
- 3/4 cup parmesan cheese shredded, divided
- 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese shredded, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Pinch of nutmeg
- 1 egg slightly beaten
- 2 1/4 cups tomato sauce more as desired
- If using homemade pasta, roll out pasta sheets on the thinnest, or second to thinnest, setting; cutting to fit the size of your pan. Bring a large stock pot full of salted water to a boil; par-cook the noodles for approximately 30 seconds, until they float. Transfer directly to an ice bath and then let dry on a tea towel or paper towels. Let rest until ready to assemble the lasagna. If using refrigerated pasta sheets or no-boil dried lasagna noodles, use as directed (generally no need to prep!).
- Pre-heat oven to 375°F. Grease an 8x8 or 9x9 baking dish (I use softened butter). Set aside.
- In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add chopped shallot and let cook for 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes. Season with red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper to taste. Add chopped spinach to skillet, stir to coat, and remove from heat as spinach wilts. Transfer to a fine mesh strainer and press to release all liquid from the spinach. Let sit to drain and cool.
- Meanwhile, stir together ricotta, 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, black pepper, nutmeg. Taste test and then stir in the egg. Once the spinach has drained and cooled, stir into ricotta mixture.
- Spread 1/4 cup of tomato sauce in greased baking dish. Place down the first layer of lasagna sheets; top with 1/3 of the ricotta mixture (for 3 layers), then an additional 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella, and 1/2 cup tomato sauce. Continue with two more full layers: pasta, ricotta, mozzarella, sauce. Once the three layers of ricotta are set, top with a final layer of pasta and tomato sauce. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese (~1/3 cup) and remaining parmesan (~1/4 cup) on top.
- Cover lasagna with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking for 20-30 additional minutes, until golden brown and bubbly around edges. Let sit for 5-10 minutes and serve.