Of course, the freezer list of meals to make before baby has to include Lasagna.
I took a look at the Pioneer Woman’s Lasagna before I made this, and although hers looks yummy (I am totally going to try Mozzarella Slices next time, maybe cottage cheese), I really love veggies in my lasagna and lean meat. So I put in spinach and zucchini, used Dreamfield’s pasta, but made my sauce like her. After looking at a lot of lasagna recipes, I find that they are infinitely flexible, so I add what I like. Sometimes artichokes, spicy sausage, red peppers. I was going for a healthy meal after baby arrives, so I tried to fit my ‘salad’ in my lasagna for a no-fuss night (although greens with Italian dressing goes so well with lasagna too). So feel free to play around with this recipe and try your favorite ingredients. Here are all the ingredients I used:
First I simmered my meat with garlic (I used 1 lb. turkey, 1 lb. grass fed beef since I was doubling it), then added some zucchini, making sure to season this with 1 t. salt and 1/2 t. pepper:
Next I added tomatoes, and I swear by San Marzano tomatoes. I can’t remember where I started using whole tomatoes and crushing them with my hands :
But I love the rustic texture.
Then add the seasonings – parsley, basil, salt and pepper, and stir. Allow to simmer away for 20-30 min. depending on how much time you have.
While this is cooking, make sure the lasagna noodles are cooked and drained. I like to add a drizzle of oil after they are cooked to prevent sticking. Then you assemble the ricotta mixture:
I like to add the spinach next, half to the cheese mixture and half to the sauce. Then, you assemble. Then, layer bottom of 13 x 9 pan with sauce from jar so noodles don’t stick (about 1/2 a cup). Then add noodles, ricotta mixture, mozzarella, noodles, meat sauce mixture, jar sauce mixture, noodles, repeat. Finish with thick layer of mozzarella. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze if freezing after this step.
Don’t the green specks look pretty? You can use basil or parsley too (which is more traditional in the cheese mixture). But I am trying to sneak in nutrition where I can, and I know my kids eat the cheesy part.
Please note that I always double these ingredients. It is such a luxury to invest 1 hr. of work and have enough food for the weekend AND a pan in the freezer. (I often give one away to someone who just had a baby or something.)
Lasagna with Zucchini and Spinach (printer version here.)
2 T. olive oil
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 lb. ground turkey, beef or sausage
2 zucchini, chopped
2 cans whole San Marzano tomatoes
2 T. dried parsley flakes
2 T. dried Basil
2 t. salt & 1 t. pepper
1 package lasagna noodles
1/2 cup Parmesan
3 cups part skim ricotta
1 10 oz. frozen package of spinach, thawed and drained
2 c. shredded mozzarella
1 32 oz. jar of favorite pasta sauce (I love having extra sauce, no dried out noodles!)
Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions, being sure to add salt and oil to the water so they don’t stick.
Cook meat and garlic together until meat is fully cooked, then add zucchini and cook for 5 minutes more. Add tomatoes, squeezing each until it is in big chunks. Add parsley, basil, salt and pepper, and simmer for 20-30 minutes.
Meanwhile, stir together ricotta cheese, eggs, parm, 1 t. salt, and add half of the spinach to the ricotta mixture, the other half to the meat mixture. (I like to see specks of green in the ricotta. You can add all the spinach to the meat mixture if you like).
Then, layer bottom of 13 x 9 pan with sauce from jar so noodles don’t stick (about 1/2 a cup). Then add noodles, ricotta mixture, mozzarella, noodles, meat sauce mixture, jar sauce mixture, noodles, repeat. Finish with thick layer of mozzarella. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze if freezing after this step.
Bake in 350 degree oven for 25-30 min until top is bubbly. If frozen, cook for 45-50 min covered with foil, checking to see if cheese is melted and middle is warm.