A simple and delicious Spinach Lasagna using a homemade béchamel sauce and marinara sauce. This vegetarian lasagna will be a hit even with the meatlovers!
I love a good lasagna 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.
Why This Recipe Works
- This Spinach Lasagna takes less time to make than a traditional lasagna.
- All you need is a simple marinara sauce and a béchamel sauce, plus a scattering of spinach between the layers.
- Change the recipe to your liking by using different vegetables.
Spinach Lasagna Recipe
This recipe for Spinach Lasagna is simple with clean, fresh flavours.
Whilst I wouldn’t attempt to make a traditional meat lasagna during the week, I quite often make this Spinach Lasagna (or variations of it – see below) on a busy weeknight.
I find this spinach lasagna recipe to be a great way of combining pasta and vegetables, and there is something special about bringing a bubbling lasagna to the table after a long day at work.
Although this lasagna has a few components and requires an assembly job, I make marinara sauce and béchamel sauce so often that I can have both sauces ready to go in about 20 minutes.
Tips for Making Lasagna
When making a lasagna of any sort, my tips are as follows:
- Start by making the marinara sauce. My recipe for marinara sauce takes about 5 minutes to prepare, and while it is simmering away and reducing, you can get started on the Béchamel sauce.
- The béchamel sauce should take about 10 to 15 minutes to make, so it should be ready at about the same time as the marinara sauce.
- Once both sauces are ready to go, you can get started on assembling the lasagna.
- I like to pre-cook my fresh lasagna sheets in boiling water for about 2 minutes each. This is enough time for me to quickly assemble a layer while I have a sheet of lasagna cooking.
- If you prefer to use dried lasagna sheets, I recommend soaking them in hot water (from the tap) while you are making the sauces.
How to Make Spinach Lasagna
Make the Marinara Sauce (Tomato Pasta Sauce)
This marinara sauce is one which I make at least once a week to serve with pasta, polenta or even alongside some grilled steak.
Please see my recipe for Easy Marinara Sauce for step-by-step photos.
Make the Béchamel Sauce
And the béchamel sauce (white 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.
Please see my recipe for Béchamel Sauce for step-by-step photos.
Assemble the Lasagna
To assemble the lasagna, start by spreading a layer of marinara sauce on the bottom of the lasagna dish. This will prevent the pasta from sticking to the bottom of the dish.
Place a lasagna sheet in the dish and start layering on the ingredients as follows:
- a layer of marinara sauce
- a good scattering of baby spinach leaves
- a generous coating of Béchamel sauce
- a sprinkle of grated parmesan
Repeat the above steps until all lasagna sheets have been used.
For the final layer, I like to have a generous coating of Béchamel sauce. I try to reserve about double the quantity of Béchamel sauce for the top layer as for the other layers, just to make the lasagna extra unctuous.
A generous sprinkle of grated parmesan helps the top layer to brown nicely.
Fresh vs Dried Lasagna Pasta Sheets
I prefer to use fresh lasagna sheets where possible, mainly because I like my pasta to be on the soft side (see photo below from 2012!) 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 lasagna sheets in boiling water to get the cooking process started, thereby ensuring that the pasta will be to my liking come time to serve.
But if you prefer a more firm lasagna which can hold its shape upon serving, then I would recommend using dry lasagna sheets.
Although, when using dry lasagna sheets, I still recommend soaking them in hot water (from the tap) to help them to cook and soften.
I quite like this Spinach Lasagna with just the marinara sauce and Béchamel sauce, but you can sneak in a few more veges to make it more substantial.
I also love to add thickly sliced courgettes (zucchini) or thinly sliced aubergines (eggplants) with, or in place of, the spinach.
Around Christmas time when we seem to have a lot of leftover ham, I like to make this lasagna by layering some thin slices of ham in place of the vegetables.
For one simple recipe, so many options!Print
A simple and delicious Spinach Lasagna using a homemade béchamel sauce and marinara sauce. This vegetarian lasagna will be a hit even with the meatlovers! Recipe with step-by-step photos.
- Prep Time: 30 mins
- Cook Time: 60 mins
- Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
- Yield: Serves 3-4
- Category: Pasta
- Method: Bake
- Cuisine: Italian
For the Marinara Sauce
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 x 400 g (14 oz) canned diced tomatoes
- 1–2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
- freshly cracked pepper
- parsley, finely chopped
- basil leaves, finely chopped
For the Béchamel Sauce (white sauce)
- 60 g (3 tablespoons) butter
- 40 g (1/4 cup) plain flour (all-purpose flour)
- 1/2 vegetable stock cube or 1/2 chicken stock cube (optional, leave out the chicken stock cube for a vegetarian dish)
- 500 ml (2 cups) full cream milk, plus more to taste
- 1 bay leaf
- freshly grated nutmeg
To assemble the Spinach Lasagna
- about 250 g (9 oz) fresh lasagna sheets (see Kitchen Notes below)
- freshly grated parmesan cheese
- about 100 g (3.5 oz) baby spinach leaves or regular spinach leaves, washed and drained
For the Marinara Sauce (For step-by-step photos, please see my recipe for Marinara Sauce)
- Pour the oil into a medium-sized skillet or saucepan.
- Add the onion and garlic to the cold oil, together with a sprinkle of sea salt.
- Sauté over medium-high heat until the onion and garlic have softened.
- Add the canned tomatoes, together with the sugar, salt and some pepper to taste.
- Simmer the mixture over low-medium heat for about 20 minutes.
- Stir the mixture frequently, and use a wooden spoon to help break down the tomatoes.
- If the mixture has thickened too much, thin it with some boiling water. The marinara sauce needs to be slightly runny as the lasagna sheets will soak up some of the liquid during the baking time.
- Taste for seasoning. Depending on the acidity of your canned tomatoes, you might need to add some more sugar.
- Stir through the chopped herbs, and reserve some herbs for garnishing.
For the Béchamel Sauce (white sauce) (For step-by-step photos, please see my recipe for Béchamel Sauce)
- Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan.
- Sprinkle in the flour and stock cube (if using).
- Stir the mixture with a wooden spoon and cook for 1-2 minutes until it browns a little in colour.
- Slowly whisk in the milk and keep whisking until there are no lumps.
- Add the bay leaf.
- Use a wooden spoon to stir the sauce frequently over medium-high heat until the sauce is thick and smooth.
- Take the sauce of the heat and generously grate in some fresh nutmeg.
- Taste for seasoning.
- The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.
- If you need to thin the béchamel sauce, simply whisk in some milk until you have the right consistency.
To assemble the Spinach Lasagna
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) (without fan).
- Bring a large pan of water to the boil and then add about 1 tablespoon of sea salt.
- Cook the lasagna sheets according to the packet instructions (about 2 minutes per sheet). I tend to cook enough lasagna sheets to form one layer at a time, and while I am assembling the dish, I cook the next batch of lasagna sheets.
- In a baking dish approximately 18 cm x 25 cm (7 inch x 9 inch), spoon a thin layer of marinara sauce on the bottom of the dish.
- Place the lasagna sheet on top.
- Spread another thin layer of marinara sauce on top of the lasagna sheet.
- Scatter over a layer of fresh baby spinach leaves.
- Drizzle over some Béchamel sauce. The Béchamel sauce does not need to completely cover the layer.
- Sprinkle over some grated parmesan.
- Repeat Steps 5 to 9 until all lasagna sheets have been used. For the lasagna dish in the photos above, I used 6 sheets of lasagna.
- I reserve most of the Béchamel sauce for the top layer so that the dish is generously coated in the white sauce.
- Sprinkle the final layer of Béchamel sauce generously with grated parmesan.
- Bake for about 40-45 minutes until the cheese is golden brown and the sauce is bubbling.
If you like a soft lasagna like that pictured in the photos above, I recommend using fresh lasagna sheets as per the recipe. But if you prefer a firm lasagna which can hold its shape upon serving, I would recommend using dry lasagna sheets. There is no need to pre-boil the dry lasagna sheets, but I recommend soaking them in hot water (from the tap) for about 20 minutes. Simply use them in place of the fresh lasagna sheets in the recipe above.
MAKE IT VEGETARIAN
Omit the chicken stock cube from the béchamel sauce and use either vegetable stock instead, or leave out the stock cube completely. I add it for a small punch of flavour to the dish, but you could instead sneak in more flavour by adding more parmesan cheese between the layers.
This is a very versatile recipe where you can use other vegetables in addition to, or instead of, the spinach. I often make this lasagna with thinly sliced courgettes (zucchini) and/or aubergine (eggplant). This lasagna is also delicious with slices of ham in between the layers.
All recipes on this website state temperatures for a regular oven (i.e. a conventional oven without fan). If you have a convection oven with a fan, please consult the manufacturer’s handbook on how to adjust the temperature and baking time accordingly.
To convert from cups to grams, and vice-versa, please see this handy Conversion Chart for Basic Ingredients.
- Serving Size: 1
- Calories: 285
- Sugar: 9.1g
- Sodium: 286.1mg
- Fat: 13.4g
- Carbohydrates: 33.2g
- Fiber: 3.6g
- Protein: 8.4g
- Cholesterol: 30.3mg
This recipe was first published on 27 May 2012. It has been updated with more comprehensive recipe notes.