This vegetarian lasagna is a always a big hit with kids, and I'm a fan because it's quick and easy to make. We've become converts to the Venezuelan style of lasagna known as pasticho. It's a variation of the Mediterranean dish called pastitsio, which is a pasta casserole made with tubular noodles that are layered with both a bechamel sauce and a meat sauce.
The bechamel sauce is what won me over - it adds great creaminess and richness to the lasagna. The mozzarella cheese is still there, along with some aged provolone for a bit of sharp flavor. The cheeses and bechamel sauce are layered with a tomato sauce and garlicky spinach. You can add all kinds of other pre-cooked vegetables to this lasagna - steamed broccoli, peas, zucchini, fresh tomatoes - whatever you like.The time savers here are the precooked (ready to bake) lasagna noodles and prepared pasta sauce, but you could make homemade tomato sauce as well. If you are really in a burry, substitute purchased alfredo sauce for the homemade bechamel.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Yield: Serves 6.
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 3 1/2 cups milk
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Pinch of nutmeg
- 1/2 cup grated aged provolone cheese
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce for pasta
- 1 6-ounce can of tomato paste
- 2 10-ounce packages of frozen spinach, thawed
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 9-ounce package of oven ready lasagna noodles
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. When the butter is melted, whisk in the flour and heat until the mixture is just starting to simmer, stirring constantly. Whisk in the milk, salt and nutmeg and continue to stir over medium heat until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and stir in the grated provolone cheese.
- Whisk the tomato paste into the tomato sauce.
- Mince the garlic and place in a large skillet with the olive oil. Heat until garlic is fragrant, then add the spinach and cook for 3-4 minutes over medium heat, stirring, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Season spinach with salt and pepper to taste.
- Assemble the lasagna: Spread a thin layer of the cream sauce on the bottom of a lasagna dish (a 9 x 13 dish, or a smaller but deeper dish will work). Cover the cream sauce with a single layer of the lasagna noodles.
- Top the noodles with 1/3 of the tomato sauce, and sprinkle 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese over the sauce.
- Add another layer of lasagna noodles. Spread 1/3 of the remaining cream sauce over the noodles. Cover the sauce with 1/2 of the spinach mixture, and top with 1/3 cup of the mozzarella cheese.
- Repeat those 2 layers once more.
- For the final 2 layers, make one layer of tomato sauce and Parmesan, top with a layer noodles, and then spread the remaining cream sauce on top. Sprinkle the remaining 1/3 cup of mozzarella and 2 tablespoons over Parmesan over the cream sauce.
- Cover the lasagna with foil, and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10-15 minutes longer. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before serving.