If you’re looking for a dish to bring to your next potluck, I’ve got the most epic veggie-packed, cheesy, bechamel-layered monster lasagna! This baby is a triple-stack flavor destined to knock out any pasta lover, stuffed with spinach, mushrooms, eggplant, (and beef bolognese – if you so choose). Lasagna used to intimidate me because it seemed like such a difficult dish to make, but in reality, as long as you follow the directions – you’re golden. It may be more time consuming than pesto pasta or spaghetti bolognese, but you’ll see that your masterpiece was absolutely worth the effort. So put on your best apron, pop in a good audiobook, and let’s get cooking.
Serving Size: 8
Prep Time: 1 hour
Bake Time: 1 hour
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1 pound spinach
4 cups ricotta cheese (cubed)
2 cups mozzarella (grated)
1 teaspoon dried basil
salt (to taste)
½ cup butter
½ cup Breadfast all-purpose flour
4 cups milk
salt and pepper (to taste)
4 cups button mushrooms (chopped)
2 medium eggplants (sliced)
32 oz marinara sauce
1 lb ground beef (optional)
1 box Regina Lasagne Pasta sheets
1½ cup mozzarella (grated)
- For the cheese ricotta filling, wash and finely chop 1 pound of spinach. Drizzle olive oil into a saucepan, and cook the spinach leaves until it is just wilted. Wait for the spinach to cool.
- In the meantime, cut 4 cups of ricotta cheese into small pieces, grate 2 cups of mozzarella, and combine in a bowl with 1 teaspoon of dried basil.
- When the spinach is cooled, squeeze out any excess water and mix into the cheese mixture. Salt to taste and set aside to chill.
- Lightly salt the sliced eggplant, and set aside for about 20 minutes to allow it to “sweat.” This removes the “raw” taste of the eggplant. In the meanwhile, lightly cook the mushrooms just until they are browned. Transfer to a dish to cool, and then lightly cook the eggplants in the same manner.
- Next, it’s time to make the bechamel! Melt ½ cup of butter in a pot over medium heat. When the butter is completely melted, reduce the heat to low and whisk in ½ cup of flour. The mixture will begin to bubble, and you’ll know that it’s ready when the texture begins to look like fine wet sand.
- As you continue to whisk quickly, slowly pour in 4 cups of milk, increasing the heat to medium. Add salt and pepper to taste, and continue cooking until the bechamel is thick and smooth with no lumps.
- For a meat version of the pasta, drizzle olive oil in a saucepan and add the ground beef. Pour in the marinara sauce, and continue cooking the ground beef until the mixture begins to boil and the meat is thoroughly cooked.
- For the lasagna pasta, bring a large pot of water to boil, and season with salt until it tastes like ocean water. Add a drizzle of olive oil, and gently place the lasagna sheets in one at a time, stacking them horizontally and perpendicularly across each other so they’re easier to remove later on. Boil the lasagna sheets for about 6-8 minutes until thoroughly cooked through, and with a large wooden spoon or spatula, carefully lift the lasagna sheets one at a time and transfer them into a large bowl or deep dish filled with cold water.
- To assemble, preheat the oven to 200°C. Spread a layer of bechamel in a 9×13 deep dish.
- Layer 2 or 3 sheets of lasagna over the bottom of the dish, enough to cover the pan with only a small bit of overlap.
- Next, spoon ⅓ of your cheese mixture evenly over the pan. Top with the marinara sauce, then the eggplants and mushrooms, a layer of bechamel sauce, and then another layer of lasagna pasta.
- Repeat the process until you have three layers of the cheese-marinara-veggies-bechamel-pasta, with the last layer of lasagna sheets at the top. Fold any overhanging pasta sheets underneath the top layer.
- Spread a layer of bechamel over the surface of your lasagna. This keeps the top moist, and prevents the unwanted dry-pasta texture. Cover with a piece of foil, and if your lovely pasta casserole is looking as full as mine, place your dish on top of a baking tray and cover it with foil to catch any spillage.
- Bake the lasagna for 40 minutes, then remove the foil on top of the lasagna, and sprinkle the top layer with the remaining 1½ cup of mozzarella cheese. Bake again for 20 more minutes until the mozzarella is golden browned and bubbling.
- Let chill for at least 15 minutes before serving, and then bask in the glory of your Monster Masterpiece!