A simple and delicious vegetarian Spinach & Tomato Lasagne from scratch.
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?
Spinach & Tomato Lasagne
- Total Time: 1 hour 30 mins
- Yield: Serves 3-4
For the tomato sauce
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
- 2 x 400 g (14 oz) tinned diced tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- Maldon sea salt
- freshly cracked black pepper
- fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
For the béchamel sauce
- 60 g (3 tablespoons) butter
- 40 g (2 tablespoons) plain flour
- 1/2 chicken stock cube (optional)
- 500 ml (2 cups) full cream milk
- 1 bay leaf
- freshly grated nutmeg
To assemble the lasagne
- about 250 g (9 oz) fresh lasagne sheets
- freshly grated parmesan cheese
- about 100 g (3.5 oz) spinach leaves
- Make the tomato sauce first by gently cooking the garlic in the olive oil in a medium saucepan until it is aromatic.
- Add the tinned tomatoes and the sugar, and simmer gently for about 20-30 minutes until the sauce has reduced and thickened.
- Taste for seasoning and add some sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, and stir through the basil.
- While the tomato sauce is simmering, make the béchamel sauce.
- Melt the butter in a medium saucepan and then add the flour (and stock cube, if using).
- Stir with a wooden spoon and cook for 2-3 minutes until the mixture slightly darkens in colour.
- Slowly whisk in the milk and keep whisking until the mixture is thick and smooth.
- Add the bay leaf and continue to stir over medium heat until the sauce is lovely and thick.
- Take the sauce of the heat and generously grate in some fresh nutmeg. The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
- Bring a large pan of water to the boil and then add about 1 tablespoon of sea salt.
- Cook the lasagne sheets according to the packet instructions (about 3 minutes per sheet). I tend to cook enough lasagne sheets to form one layer at a time, and while I am assembling the dish, I cook the next batch of lasagne sheets
- In a baking dish approximately 18 cm x 25 cm, spoon a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of the dish. Cover with a layer of lasagne sheets. Spread another thin layer of tomato sauce and scatter a layer of fresh spinach leaves on top. Drizzle over some béchamel sauce, followed by a generous grating of fresh parmesan. Place a layer of lasagne sheets on top and repeat until you have three layers of pasta. I reserve most of the béchamel sauce for the top layer so that the dish is generously coated in the white sauce.
- Bake for about 40-45 minutes until the cheese is golden brown and the sauce is bubbling.
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If you have used this recipe, I would love to hear how it turned out! Please leave a comment below and share your photos by tagging @eatlittlebird on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter and using #eatlittlebird