Spinach & Tomato Lasagne

27 May 2012

Post image for Spinach & Tomato Lasagne

I love a good lasagne and it’s a satisfying dish to make when you have time to potter about in the kitchen. With spring having finally arrived in Zurich and warmer weather slowly creeping into the forecast, I wanted to make a baked pasta dish, but nothing too rich and heavy. This vegetarian lasagne is super easy to make, requiring only a simple tomato sauce and a béchamel sauce and, if you like, a scattering of vegetables between the layers.

As with any dish that has a few components and requires an assembly job, making a lasagne is not necessarily something you would attempt during the week after a long day at work, but it sure makes for a special meal at any other time.

This is a clean lasagne with simple, fresh flavours. The tomato sauce is one which I make at least once a week to serve with pasta, polenta or even alongside some grilled steak. And the béchamel sauce is a staple in my cooking, often used to generously coat some vegetables (like par-boiled cauliflower or boiled potatoes) and transform them into a cheesy gratin dish.

I quite like this lasagne with just the tomato sauce and béchamel sauce, but you can sneak in a few veges to make it more substantial, such as fresh spinach leaves, some thinly sliced courgettes (zucchini) or aubergines (eggplant), or perhaps some sliced mushrooms.

I prefer to use fresh lasagne sheets where possible, mainly because I like my pasta to be on the soft side and I find that dried pasta sheets are always too firm after baking, even if I have taken steps to ensure that the sauce is as runny as possible. To that end, I also pre-cook my fresh lasagne sheets in boiling water to get the cooking process started, thereby ensuring that the pasta will be to my liking come time to serve.

If you have extra time on your hands, you can make this dish even more special by making your own pasta from scratch. But given the steps already involved in making the two sauces and then assembling the dish, store-bought lasagne sheets will make your life a bit easier.

What are your favourite fillings for lasagne?

{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

Nicola 27 May 2012 at 5:17 pm

That looks so delicious! When I make lasagne it never looks as pretty at this :-) I have to admit I usually go for the classic minced beef, but there is a recipe with little herby meatballs I want to try :-)

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eat, little bird 27 May 2012 at 5:27 pm

I also love lasagne with a meat sauce, but little meatballs sound delicious!! I might give that a go next time :-) Thanks for the idea!

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Sam-I-am 27 May 2012 at 7:56 pm

How do you do it? You even make the messiest of dishes, i.e: LASAGNA!!! look neat!?! Love the look and sound of this. Love the post and gorgeous photos as always! S x

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eat, little bird 27 May 2012 at 8:07 pm

LOL!! Oh gosh, I don’t want to come across as a neat freak but is it that obvious, LOL?! ;-) Let’s just say that the plate doesn’t look so neat once you tuck in :-) Am having leftovers right now – yum!!

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Saffron 27 May 2012 at 9:59 pm

perfect dish!! lovely photos too, the white background is stunning.

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eat, little bird 27 May 2012 at 10:04 pm

Thank you! :-)

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Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar 27 May 2012 at 11:00 pm

Love this! It sounds soooo delicious!

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eat, little bird 28 May 2012 at 8:41 am

Thanks, Katrina!

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Melange 28 May 2012 at 7:38 am

That’s perfect lasagne according to me..Will be real pleasure to have with the subtle spices..Classic clicks.

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eat, little bird 28 May 2012 at 8:42 am

Thanks, Melange! This lasagne is indeed a simple one with subtle, but good, flavours.

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Anna @ The Littlest Anchovy 28 May 2012 at 8:43 am

I am yet to make a lasagne from scratch and this is where I think I will start. It is so lovely and light and I love your step by step photos. Beautiful!

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eat, little bird 28 May 2012 at 8:47 am

Making a lasagne from scratch can seem daunting, but it’s actually not complicated; it just requires a bit of time to prepare the different sauces and then assemble everything together. This lasagne is fairly quick because the tomato sauce is quite simple and doesn’t need as much time to cook as a meat sauce. I hope you will give it a try!

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manu 28 May 2012 at 8:44 am

These lasagne seems to be so italia, I love the colours!!!
Have a nice week

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eat, little bird 28 May 2012 at 8:48 am

Ah yes! I didn’t think about the colours at first, but now that you mention it, it is very Italia :-) Something only an Italian would notice ;-)

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Paula 28 May 2012 at 9:32 am

Cute photos!! I love so much light and color!! I mean, I’m green with envy!! :P

It’s so nice to see a simple dish like a lasagna with a presence so appealing! And now, some months ago I discovered that I love changing lasagna filling (or is it stuffing??). For the moment Portobello mushrooms and pumpkin is my favorite, but I must try this!! One of my favourite pizzas in a lasagna!! Including garlic and basil, it must be perfect!!

Wow, I’m going to look like a groupie, but even if just recently met your blog, I’m in love with all the food!! You know what to eat!! :P

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eat, little bird 28 May 2012 at 1:06 pm

Oh, you are so sweet, Paula! :-) A filling with Portobello mushrooms and pumpkin sounds delicious! I particularly love pumpkin lasagnas but, strangely enough, have never made one at home. Must rectify that soon!

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The Food Sage 28 May 2012 at 11:36 am

This looks light and sensational. I used to make a wicked, chunky vegetable lasagne when i was vegetarian – usually concocted from whatever veggies were in the fridge. I loved the bite of cauliflower florets in there, sliced leeks, and wedges of potato. These days i stick to the traditional minced beef filling. I make a huge lasagne, cook it, and portion it out into containers that go in the freezer. There’s nothing better than coming home from work and just having to heat one of those little babies up!

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eat, little bird 28 May 2012 at 1:12 pm

I know how productive you have been in organising your freezer so I can only imagine the wonderful treats you have stored away! I also love the idea of squirrelling some lasagna portions away in the freezer but, unfortunately, we have a teeny, tiny icebox for a freezer. I do love a traditional minced beef filling as well which makes for a very substantial meal. But I love your idea of adding cauliflower florets – I think that could work really well with this vegetarian version :-)

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Jennifer (Delicieux) 28 May 2012 at 11:48 am

What a beautiful lasagna Thanh, and I agree with Sam-I-Am, how do you make something as messy as lasagna so neat!! You are amazing!

My favourite lasagna filling is mushroom. I love its earthy flavour.

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eat, little bird 28 May 2012 at 1:17 pm

LOL!! I think I have only become neater with my food presentation since I started taking photos for this blog. I was conscious of how sloppy the lasagna might be because I like my lasagna pasta to be on the soft side. I know many like a more firm-standing lasagna so I was lucky that mine didn’t run everywhere and look like a flat pancake!

I also love mushrooms in my lasagnas, both meat and vegetarian versions. In fact, I’m known to overload my pasta dishses with mushrooms to the point that hubby one day commented that it must be my favourite vegetable – and he was right :-)

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Liz Headon 28 May 2012 at 1:54 pm

I love those stage-by-stage photos, Thanh ! I must admit I’ve more or less given up on making lasagna because of the pre-cooking of pasta. Do you pre-cook your pasta sheets one at a time ? I’ve never managed to find a way to stop them sticking together if I do more. Like you, I tried the “no pre-cook” method but never found it entirely satisfactory.

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eat, little bird 28 May 2012 at 2:40 pm

Thanks, Liz! I admit that pre-cooking the lasagna sheets do add a bit of time to the whole process – it’s not complicated, just fiddly. I only cook enough lasagna sheets for one layer at a time, so as soon as I have put the lasagna sheets in the baking dish, I put the next batch of lasagna sheets in the boiling water to cook while I am arranging the layer with the sauces. The fresh lasagna sheets I use require about 3 minutes of pre-cooking, which is just enough time for me to tend to the sauces. But sometimes, because 3 minutes is not a lot of time, I just cook the lasagna sheets once I am done with a layer. Hopefully you will give lasagna another try one day :-)

Nigella has a great recipe in Feast for Rigatoni al forno, where you essentially prepare a meat sauce and béchamel sauce, but instead of making a lasagne, she uses rigatoni and mixes the two sauces together before popping everything in the oven. The end dish tastes very much like a lasagna but without all of the fuss. I’ve made it a few times and absolutely love it :-)

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myfudo 28 May 2012 at 4:12 pm

Almost summer here…But I believe lasagne is great whatever season, right? I love the spinach in this recipe and since it is covered with yummy tomato sauce and cheese and creamy sauce, I am sure my little girl wont be frowning at her veggies. Thanks a lot!

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eat, little bird 28 May 2012 at 5:14 pm

Absolutely – lasagne is great in any season :-) I think this dish is very kid-friendly as the flavours are quite simple and not too overpowering. Lasagnas are also great for sneaking in veges between the layers, for both kids and adults alike!

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Ally 28 May 2012 at 6:04 pm

Oh my word I am so glad to have stumbled upon your delicious & dreamy blog. Love all your recipes & amazing photography.
xo

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eat, little bird 28 May 2012 at 10:31 pm

Thanks, Ally! That means a lot to me :-) Hope to see you here more often!

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Anita Menon 28 May 2012 at 9:33 pm

What a beautiful tray bake! Every frame in this post calls out to me. I think this has to be tried out. I am bookmarking this.

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eat, little bird 28 May 2012 at 10:31 pm

I’m glad you enjoyed this post :-) *And* it’s vegetarian! I do hope you will try it.

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Ira Rodrigues 29 May 2012 at 4:03 am

This is my first visit to your blog Thanh, truthfully I am hooked, your photos are truly amazing.
Thank you for the the visit and commenting to my blog, I will surely would love to come back here very often and check out whats your new recipe.

Have a nice day and Happy cooking Thanh

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eat, little bird 29 May 2012 at 1:22 pm

Ira, lovely to see you here! And what a wonderful compliment from a talented blogger as yourself! I look forward to “seeing” you more often :-)

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lynnette 9 June 2012 at 1:46 pm

Ohh this looks fantastic! :D I’ve always been a fan of spinach and it’s such a great idea to incorporate it into lasagne.
I’m so happy that I stumbled onto your blog! I’ve only just started getting into cooking/baking so I’m trawling the internet for great sites on cooking. XD Will definitely be back!

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eat, little bird 9 June 2012 at 10:29 pm

It’s pretty easy to sneak vegetables into lasagnes and spinach would have to be one of my favourites. Someone recently adapted my recipe and used roasted pumpkin which I would love to try next. Enjoy your forays into cooking and baking and I hope you will find some more inspiration here.

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Caroline 15 June 2012 at 5:52 pm

oh Droooooooool!!!! Lasagne has to rate as one of my all time favourite comfort eats, even if I suck at making them! I like a fairly ‘firm’ lasagne, not swimming and sliding around in tomato sauce or worse, cheese. This looks so light and delicious. Fabulous photos and my favourite is the tri-collage construction of the lasagne.

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eat, little bird 20 June 2012 at 10:59 pm

Ah, I like my lasagne to be on the sloppy side ;-) This is mostly because I like my lasagne sheets to be soft and I like there to be a decent amount of sauce, especially white sauce. Having said that, I have eaten some really good firm lasagnes and that is usually on the rare occasion when the meat sauce has been really flavoursome and not too meaty. You know my thing with minced meat ;-)

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Caroline 23 June 2012 at 8:44 pm

LOL indeed I do! We tend to be more opposites don’t we? Makes things interesting :-)

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Kelly 30 July 2012 at 10:21 pm

Is that just fresh parmesan cheese on top or did you top it off with some mozzarella?
Looks amazing and am trying to make it. Thank you.

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eat, little bird 31 July 2012 at 9:44 am

Hi Kelly,
Yes, it’s just parmesan cheese which I grated on top of the lasagne. The béchamel sauce makes everything a bit creamy so you don’t really need the mozzarella. But you could, of course, replace the béchamel sauce with some thick slices of mozzarella or a generous sprinkle of grated mozzarella – this is what I do sometimes for a really quick lasagne. Good luck!

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Tat 14 August 2012 at 11:14 am

I just pinned this. Hmm on my list of things to cook.

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eat, little bird 17 August 2012 at 12:04 am

I would love to know what you think once you get around to making this recipe! It’s a very simple lasagne and you could very easily add other ingredients to it. Enjoy!

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Renate 11 November 2012 at 3:58 pm

I just came across your blog, and I would love to try this recipe! Yum! :-) I’m looking forward to browsing through your blog.

Have a good Sunday!

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eat, little bird 16 November 2012 at 7:10 pm

Enjoy and I hope you will find some more recipes to try :-)

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Lindsay 19 March 2013 at 3:06 am

I scoured the internet searching for a good-looking, easy fresh baby spinach lasagna, and voila! I’m making this tonight, thank you so much.

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eat, little bird 19 March 2013 at 3:40 pm

I hope you will enjoy this recipe!

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