Sunday, September 30, 2012

Three-Cheese Pesto Lasagna Stacks

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
serves 4

  • 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.


Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar said...

This sounds lovely! YUM!

Rachel @ sweet ravioli said...

Can't wait to try this! I agree with you that typical lasagne making is stressful! Especially with small children running around wanting your attention constantly!

Simply Sweet Justice said...

Great idea! The pesto twist sounds great.

Kelsey said...

What a great weeknight indulgence. Thanks, Josie!

Joanne said...

I rarely ever make lasagna either because, well...I'm ONE person and if I make a whole lasagna tray it means I'll be eating it for over a week! This is the perfect solution.

Unknown said...

This looks amazing!!

Lynsey said...

This looks amazing and perfect for a busy weeknight!

adelerose said...

Made it, loved it! Thanks!

Angela @AnotherBitePlease said...

Yum - Fun and Pesto yeah. I love pesto!

Laura said...

I love this idea. And, I love that you get more of the slightly crispy edges that I love! Trying these soon.

Susan said...

Made these for supper tonight and got RAVES -- thanks for the easy and delicious recipe!

Anonymous said...

What size pan do you use?

nicole @ I am a Honey Bee said...

love pesto in lasagna.
love this stack approach

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