Italians place a higher value on “pasta al forno” than “pasta asciutta” for some reason. Perhaps because making it “al forno” requires lengthier preparation and a bigger mess in your kitchen. But sometimes a good lasagna is just what you need – particularly if you are inviting a large group of hungry people over for dinner and prefer not to be cooking when they arrive.
Since I am vegetarian, I have always made lasagna with tomato sauce and vegetables. Recently, my father in law made a “white lasagna” or “lasagna bianca” with spinach and ricotta filling and bechamel sauce and it was surprisingly light and delicious. This is his recipe.
- 1 package dry egg-pasta lasagna (works also with fresh egg pasta)
- 2 containers ricotta (500 grams total)
- 400 grams boiled and chopped spinach or similar greens
- 1 ball of mozzarella
- Salt and pepper to taste
And for the Bechamel sauce I followed the recipe provided by my friend Oriana at Tuscanycious
- 1 litre PS milk
- 60 g butter
- 60 g flour
- salt and nutmeg to taste
Prepare the bechamel, making sure to stir constantly.
Meanwhile, par boil the lasagna leaves and place them on a damp, clean tea-towel.
Mix your greens and ricotta together in a large bowl, add salt. (That’s not just out of focus, it’s a photo taken while Tommaso was dutifully whisking these materials together…)
Simply layer your parts into your lasagna dish, with a little oil on the bottom: pasta, bechamel, ricotta mixture, more bechamel, repeat. On the top, a layer of white sauce and a few slices of mozzarella to make a nice brown effect.
Apologies for the finished product photo – it was dark and we had guests eating outside in the garden…