Friday Night Lasagna

Who doesn’t like lasagna? I honestly can’t think of anyone. I know people who can’t have it, due to diet choices, food allergies or a sensitivity to aged cheeses, but I don’t know anyone who just plain doesn’t like it.

I am calling this “Friday Night Lasagna” because, well, that’s a good day to make this particular recipe. It’s a bit too labor-intensive for most weekday nights, but uses sauce from a jar instead of homemade sauce (which is how I would prefer to make it if I had the greater time availability of weekends). 

Lasagna is another very forgiving recipe: as long as you keep the same basic volume of ingredients, there is a good deal of flexibility regarding what you can use. Don’t like mushrooms? Use zucchini instead. Not a fan of spinach? Use a bell pepper. Think garlic and basil are gross? Well, actually, I can’t help you with that one. That just baffles me. I suppose you could leave them out, but I can’t really condone it.

It is important that you use the whole milk ricotta and mozzarella in this recipe, rather than the 2% or skim versions. The whole milk cheeses have a higher moisture content than the lower-fat versions, which helps to cook the noodles and blend the flavors, while preventing the final dish from being dried out. If you absolutely must use the lower-fat versions, add 1/2-3/4 cup water to the sauce: though this, of course, will dilute the flavors somewhat.

For a truly well-balanced meal, be sure to serve this with a salad or some steamed veggies: I served it along with a steamed Romanesco broccoli, which will be the topic of a later post.

There’s really not much more to say regarding tips for this recipe. Make it, and enjoy!

Friday Night Lasagna

  • 2-4 T olive oil, for sauteing
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 10 oz. mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 head of garlic, chopped
  • 12 oz. baby spinach, very coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 c coarsely chopped basil
  • 24 oz. whole milk ricotta
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 4 c shredded whole milk mozzarella, divided
  • 1/2 c grated parmesan (plus more for sprinkling on top of lasagna when serving)
  • 1/4 c chopped parsely
  • 1-24 oz. jar Diavolo sauce (or other tomato sauce)
  • 1-23.5 oz. jar Vodka sauce
  • 1 box (9 oz.) no boil lasagna noodles
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and saute until soft and translucent. Add the mushrooms. Saute until the mushrooms release their juices and the moisture evaporates. Add the spinach and saute, stirring often, just until the spinach is cooked. Remove from heat, stir in the basil, and drain.
  2. Combine the ricotta, egg, 2 cups of the mozzarella, 1/2 c parmesan, and the parsley.
  3. Combine the sauces in a large saucepan and heat to a boil.Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  4. Layer in the following order in a deep 9″ by 13″ baking dish: 1-1/2 c sauce, 4 lasagna strips, 1/2 of the ricotta mixture, 1/2 of the veggie mixture, 1-1/2 c sauce, 4 lasagna strips, the rest of the ricotta, the rest of the veggies, 1-1/2 c sauce, 4 lasagna strips, and the remaining sauce. Top with the remaining 2 cups of mozzarella.
  5. Cover the pan with aluminum foil. Bake on the center rack of the oven for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake approximately 15 more minutes, until the top is melted and golden brown. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.
  6. Serve sprinkled with some extra parmesan, if desired. 

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