If you’re ever looking for my Achilles heal, you really don’t have to look to far. I am totally enamored with the wonder of cheese. All you have to do is make me something that involves the gooey melty amazing quality of cheese and you have won a friend for life! It’s no wonder when the Mid Atlantic Dairy Association asked me to represent them that I jumped at the chance to be featured on their Dairyspot.
But you don’t have to even work that hard for me to be your Cheesy friend. Just send me some Aged Cheddar like my friends at Cabot did recently, and we’ll get along just fine.
When it came time for this months focus on Dairy, I decided to go to one of my favorite dishes, Lasagna. I had somehow managed to find tomatoes that actually tasted like tomatoes (not the usual cardboard variety) and had an abundance of spinach, so I thought a white lasagna would be a nice change of pace.
I made a little Bechamel, sautéed the spinach with garlic, and roasted those lovely tomatoes and came up with a delicious vegetable lasagna. The only problem I had with this cheesy creation was my lack of patience! I just couldn’t wait long enough for it to properly set up, and ended up with a lasagna that was just a little loose. It’s hard to balance being a food blogger and photographer and still get your family fed in a reasonable amount of time.
Even though it could have looked a little better, I don’t think it could’ve tasted any better, it was nicely balance array of flavors. From the sweet creaminess of the Bechamel, to the roasted tomatoes and garlicky spinach. Add in the flavors of whole milk ricotta, shredded mozzarella and grated Romano cheese and you end up with a culinary masterpiece!
- 12 refrigerated pasta sheets or a box and a half of dry noodles
- 32 oz ricotta cheese
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup grated Romano cheese
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic -chopped
- 16 ounces organic baby spinach leaves
- 4 -6 fresh tomatoes sliced
- 4 oz shredded mozzarella
- 4 ounces butter
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 cups vegetable stock
- 1 cup milk use more if sauce is too thick
- 1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
- pinch of black pepper
- 1 tbsp . fresh basil -chopped
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Mix ricotta, grated Romano cheese, eggs, sugar and pepper together until well blended and place in the refrigerator until needed.
- Slice tomatoes, season with salt pepper and grated romano cheese and roast at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.
- In a saucepan melt butter, then add in flour. Stir mixture over low heat until it begins to smell a little like bread (as the flour cooks). Be careful not to let the mixture burn.
- In another sauce pan heat the vegetable stock until almost boiling, then add it to the butter / flour mixture (roux). Mix well getting all of the roux stuck in the corners blended in.
- Add in milk, romano cheese and black pepper. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes, mixture will thicken as it. If needed add additional milk or water to thin out your sauce. Allow sauce to cool.
- In a large skillet or sauce pan add in olive oil, garlic and spinach leaves and allow garlic to saute as spinach reduces.
- When spinach is fully cooked place in colander and allow all the liquid to drain. Squeeze out any remaining liquid and set spinach aside.
- Start by placing enough bechamel sauce to cover the bottom of your lasagna pan, then add a layer of your prepared lasagna noodles*
- Add a layer of ricotta cheese a little of the bechamel sauce and then another layer of noodles.
- Add another layer of ricotta topped with the cooked spinach, top with bechamel sauce. then adding another layer of noodles
- Add the rest of the ricotta cheese and top with the roasted tomatoes (reserve 6 slices for the top of the lasagna), bechamel sauce and a final layer of noodles.
- Top the last layer of noodles with bechamel, and shredded mozzarella cheese.
- Top with sliced tomatoes and sprinkle with romano cheese and chopped basil.
- Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour, allow lasagna to rest for 15-20 minutes before cutting.
If using dry noodles, you don't have to cook them, just add a little extra sauce under and over each layer of noodles, and allow the finished lasagna to sit 6-8 hours before baking
There is something very comforting about lasagna and so many ways to prepare it. But no matter what you do to it the wonder of cheese makes it oh so delicious! If you have a chance stop by the Dairyspot and check out all the great recipes they share there, as well as nutritional information and dairy farming tours, there’s always something for everyone in the family there.
Thanks for stopping by today, see you soon!