I don't know why, but I seem to have a mental block against lasagna. For whatever reason, I have it in my head that it's time consuming, annoying and tedious to make, and a lot of fuss. Plus, my anal-retentive tendencies kick in and I hate it when the layers aren't all exactly the same. I love eating lasagna, but making it always stresses me out.
So when I saw these lasagna stacks, I was super excited - all the components of lasagna, in your own individual portion? And ready from start to finish in well under thirty minutes? Score! And since I love classic dishes with a twist, this was even better - instead of standard meat sauce-tomato based lasagna, this one is layers of ricotta, parmesan, pesto, spinach, and mozzarella. So cheesy. So good. I pretty much loved everything about this dish - from the concept, to the ease of preparation, to the final outcome. It was all great. And while I loved this particular combination of flavors, I can't wait to experiment with even more fun combinations - butternut squash, sage, and goat cheese, anyone?
Three-Cheese Pesto Lasagna Stacks
adapted from Simple Weeknight Favorites
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- 12 no-boil lasagna noodles
- 6 oz (about 6 cups) baby spinach
- 1 lb (2 cups) ricotta cheese (part-skim or whole milk is fine)
- 1 1/2 oz Parmesan cheese, grated (about 3/4 cup)
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 tsp grated lemon zest
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- salt and pepper
- 2/3 cup (7 oz) basil pesto (homemade or store-bought)
- 8 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded (2 cups)
Adjust the oven rack to the uppper-middle position and heat to 450 degrees. Brush oil over the bottom of a rimmed baking sheet and set aside. Place noodles in a large baking dish or heat-proof bowl and cover with boiling water. Soak for 10 minutes, agitating noodles occasionally so they don't stick together.
Meanwhile, add the spinach to a microwave safe bowl, cover, and microwave until wilted, 2-3 minutes. Drain and squeeze out the excess liquid, coarsely chop, and set aside.
In a medium bowl combine the ricotta, 1/2 cup parmesan, egg, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, garlic, chopped spinach, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper. Stir to combine.
Remove the noodles from the water and arrange in a single layer on a lint-free kitchen towel. Pat lightly to dry with another towel.
To assemble the lasagna stacks: Arrange 4 noodles on the oiled baking sheet and spread 1 tablespoon of pesto over each one. Spread 1/4 cup of the ricotta mixture evenly over the pesto (I found this worked the best by dropping 4 tablespoons over the noodle and then lightly spreading with a small spatula). Sprinkle with 2 heaping tablespoons of mozzarella, then repeat the layers - noodle, pesto, ricotta, mozzarella. Finish each stack with a noodle, remaining mozzarella, and remaining parmesan.
Bake until cheese is bubbly is beginning to brown and the filling is heated through, about 10 minutes. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes, then cut each stack in half cross-wise. using a spatula, stack 2 halves on top of each other, and repeat with the rest of the noodles to create 4 stacks. Serve.