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united we stand (post 11 of a 52 recipe resolution)

April 17, 2013

spinach lasagna with pine uts

I’m numb, angry and pissed off, the same way I felt after Columbine, Sandy Hook, 9/11 and all the other attacks in the long growing list.  The nightly news tells me of the violence that happens in my city and around the world every day.  I can’t pretend to understand it and I don’t like the “it’s the world we live in” attitude.

Last night I went out for a run along the lakefront with a group from the local athletic store.  As we headed north on our run we passed a group that was running holding an American flag.  I raised my hands and cheered them on.  We need to stand strong, stand together and take care of each other, every day.  So, extend a hand, volunteer, thank a first responder, introduce yourself to your neighbor, share a meal with friends.  Do something to make our world a better place.  Together, we outnumber them.

I’ll get off my soapbox now and share a recipe with you for lasagna.  I know, you’re thinking lasagna?  Why do I need another recipe for that, I’ve got three already.  A friend (Hi Barbara!) made lasagna for a group gathered together for an Oscars party back a couple of months ago.  It stuck with me since then and last weekend I finally got around to making “my version” of it.  I don’t know what struck me about this recipe, maybe it’s the sautéed onion and spices that are folded into the ricotta that set this apart, then again maybe it’s the three plus cups of both ricotta and mozzarella cheese.  No wait, I know………it’s the pine nuts.  Holy smokes, the pine nuts.  They weren’t in the recipe from All Recipes but Barbara added them to hers and I encourage you to add them to yours.  It’s a game changer. The original recipe is posted on All Recipes and the only reason I didn’t follow the original is that Mike isn’t a big fan of mushrooms.  They were easy to leave out and we were still thrilled with the results.  Make this, then share a slice with someone.

Spinach Lasagna

12 lasagna noodles
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 cups fresh spinach, stems removed if it’s not baby spinach
3 cups ricotta cheese
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 egg
3-1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
3- 1/2 cups marinara
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted

Preheat oven to 350F.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add the lasagna noodles and cook until just barely al dente.  Drain and rinse under cold water.

Fill the same pot with water, bring to a boil and add the spinach.  Boil for 5 minutes, drain and let cool slightly then squeeze out the excess liquid.  Give the spinach a rough chop and set aside.

In a skillet over medium-high heat, cook the onions in olive oil until tender and translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the minced garlic and stir until fragrant, about one more minute.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Combine the ricotta cheese, 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, spinach, salt, oregano, basil and egg in a bowl.  Stir well to combine evenly.  Add the cooled onion and garlic mixture and the chopped spinach.  Mix everything together until everything is well combined and the spinach is evenly distributed.

Spread a scant 1/4 cup sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish.  Lay three lasagna noodles on top of the sauce.  Spread 1/3 of the ricotta cheese mixture over the noodles, top with 1 cup mozzarella cheese and 1/3 cup parmesan cheese.  Sprinkle about 1 tbsp toasted pine nuts over the cheese then top with 1 cup marinara.  Repeat the layers two move times, ending with noodles on top.  Spread the last 1/4 cup marinara over the top layer of noodles and top with the remaining toasted pine nuts.

Cover with aluminium foil and bake for 40 minutes.  Remove foil cover and bake uncovered for the last 20 minutes. Cool 15 minutes before serving.

This isn’t a saucy lasagna.  If you prefer more sauce, ladle some on each individual plate then serve the sliced lasagna on top of the sauce.

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