Cheese

Cheesy Spinach Lasagna

January 13, 2022
5 Stars
Photo by Pasta Social Club
Author Notes

Few things cure the winter blues like lasagna. Its remedy lies not only in the comfort of eating it (and watching your fork slide through all those layers), but also in the ritual of making it. Spinach lasagna is a classic, but don’t hesitate to take full advantage of the season’s other hearty greens—a mixture of spinach, kale, chard, dandelion, and mustard greens will add texture and depth of flavor. For the cheeses, opt for a good-quality whole-milk ricotta like Calabro if you can; if you can’t find Fontina, any alpine or similar cheese like Gruyère, Emmental, or Asiago will work well.

Note: This recipe calls for homemade lasagna sheets. (You’ll use the well method: See my Master Pasta Dough recipe.) Making the pasta from scratch takes a little more time, but I think it’s worth the effort (lasagna is already a bit of a project, after all), and rolling and blanching the sheets to order saves a little counter space. But don’t let the pasta deter you: Store-bought fresh or dried lasagna will still make for a delicious warm hug of a meal.

The lasagna can be assembled up to 24 hours ahead and stored, tightly covered with foil, in the refrigerator. The baking time will increase for a cold lasagna—bake covered for 55 minutes, then uncovered until golden and bubbling before cranking the broiler. —Meryl Feinstein, Pasta Social Club

  • Prep time 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Cook time 50 minutes
  • Serves 6 to 8
Ingredients
  • For the Pasta
  • 450 grams ‘00’ pasta flour or all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out
  • 50 grams semola rimacinata or semolina flour
  • 285 grams eggs, from about 5 large eggs and 2 large egg yolks
  • Or, if you're not making your own pasta:
  • 1 pound store-bought lasagna noodles (not the no-boil kind)
  • For the Lasagna Filling & Assembly
  • 1 1/2 pounds (680 grams) spinach or a mix of hearty greens like chard, kale, dandelion, and mustard greens
  • 1/4 cup (55 grams) unsalted butter or extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion or 1 shallot, minced
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (15- or 16-ounce) container (454 grams) whole-milk ricotta
  • 4 ounces (113 grams) mascarpone
  • 2 1/2 ounces (75 grams) finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano, plus more for topping
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup (55 grams) unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup (55 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 quart (975 ml) whole milk
  • 6 ounces (170 grams; 1½ cups) grated Fontina, plus more for topping
  • 4 ounces (113 grams; 1 cup) grated low-moisture mozzarella, plus more for topping
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. For the Pasta
  2. If using fresh pasta sheets, make the dough: Make the pasta dough by hand according to the "well method" (see Author Notes). Alternatively, add the flour and eggs to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix on low speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until the mixture comes together, about 7 minutes. Transfer the dough to a flat, ideally wooden work surface and knead for 2 to 3 minutes, until smooth and firm.
  3. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic and allow it to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour. In the meantime, prepare the fillings. If using dry pasta, no need to do any additional preparation.
  1. For the Lasagna Filling & Assembly
  2. Make the spinach mixture: Wash and roughly chop the greens (if using chard or kale, remove the ribs and reserve for another use). Line a sheet pan with a clean dish cloth and keep it nearby.

    In a Dutch oven or large pot with a lid, warm the butter or olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion or shallot, garlic, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and fragrant, 5 to 7 minutes.

    Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add half of the greens and stir to combine with the onion and garlic. Add a splash of water, cover, and cook until the greens are beginning to wilt, 2 minutes. Uncover the pot and stir until wilted, then press them down and add the rest of the greens, along with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Stir to combine as best you can. Pour in another splash of water and cover the pot. Cook, uncovering occasionally to stir, until mostly wilted, 5 to 7 minutes. Uncover and stir until completely wilted.

    Drain the greens in a colander, pressing out as much moisture as possible, and allow to cool. Then transfer them to the dish cloth and wring out as much of the remaining water as you can.

    Combine the greens, ricotta, mascarpone, and Parmigiano Reggiano in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Season generously with salt, pepper, and freshly grated nutmeg to taste. Pulse until very finely chopped but not puréed and adjust the seasoning as needed. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Fold in the egg and another pinch of salt and mix until incorporated. Set aside.
  3. Make the cheese sauce: In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, using a whisk to mix constantly, until it smells nutty and the mixture starts to loosen and bubble, 2 minutes.

    While whisking constantly, gradually add the milk, either in a slow, steady stream or a splash at a time.

    Increase the heat to medium-high and cook, still whisking, until the milk starts to bubble and thicken. When it coats the back of a spoon (about 7 minutes), turn off the heat. Whisk in the Fontina and mozzarella, one handful at a time, until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside. Cover the sauce or whisk from time to time to prevent a skin from forming on the surface.
  4. Roll out and boil the pasta: Heat the oven to 375°F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it generously.

    If using store-bought dried lasagna sheets, cook according to the package directions. If making fresh pasta sheets, cut off one-sixth of the dough (about 130 grams/4.5 ounces) and rewrap the rest immediately. Flatten the dough with the heel of your hand until it’s about ¼ inch thick.

    Set your pasta machine to its widest setting and roll the dough through once (it will be tapered at the ends). Rotate the dough 90 degrees and fold both ends into the center like an envelope, so the width of the pasta sheet is similar in width to the pasta roller (about 6 inches). Roll the dough through the widest setting once more—aligning the widths—so the result is a mostly even rectangle.

    Continue rolling the pasta through the machine once on each progressive setting until you have a thin sheet (setting 7 on a Marcato Atlas 150 manual roller, or setting 6 twice through the KitchenAid attachment). If the dough is at all sticky as it goes through the machine, dust both sides with a little ‘00’ or all-purpose flour.

    Trim any uneven ends from the pasta sheet—ball them up and wrap them in plastic wrap—then cut it into approximately 11-inch-long rectangles (you should be able to get 2 pieces). Add any additional scraps to the ball in the plastic wrap: Once you’ve used all the fresh dough, you can reroll the accumulated scrap ball through the machine a second time. (Any leftovers can be made into fettuccine or whatever you want!)

    Line a sheet pan with a clean dish cloth. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Place the pasta sheets in the boiling water and gently stir. Cook for about 30 seconds, then use a spider and/or tongs to carefully transfer to the ice bath (alternatively, you can rinse the pasta under cold water in a colander). Place the pasta on the dish cloth and pat dry, then cut one of the pieces in half lengthwise, so you have 2 long strips. (You’ll need 9 pasta sheets total: 6 will stay as they are and 3 will be cut in half lengthwise.)
  5. Assemble the lasagna: Ladle a thin layer of the cheese sauce into a 9x13-inch (or another 3-quart) baking dish, spreading it out with the bottom of the ladle or a spoon. Layer one wide pasta sheet and one of the thinner strips on top to fill the dish, overlapping as needed. Spoon over a layer of the spinach mixture (about one-sixth if using fresh pasta and about one-quarter if using dry pasta) and spread it across the pasta using the back of the spoon or an offset spatula—don’t worry if there are some gaps. Then add another thin layer of cheese sauce and spread it out over the spinach.

    Roll out another section of pasta dough and blanch the sheets in the water. Shock in the ice bath (or rinse) and pat dry on the dish cloth, then add them to the baking dish, followed by another layer of the spinach mixture and layer cheese sauce. Repeat the process until you have 6 layers (if using fresh pasta; 4 to 5 layers if using dry), ending with cheese sauce. Cut some of the cooked pasta sheets in half (whether using fresh or dry pasta) and roll out and cook the scrap ball as needed (if using fresh pasta). Sprinkle with a generous amount of grated Fontina, mozzarella, and lots of Parmigiano Reggiano.
  6. Bake the lasagna: Cover the baking dish tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until bubbling and golden around the edges, 15 to 20 minutes more. Broil the top for a few minutes for extra color, then remove from the oven. Let stand for at least 10 minutes (or up to 2 hours at room temperature) before serving.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Melissa S.
    Melissa S.
  • mizerychik
    mizerychik
  • Helen Adams Waters
    Helen Adams Waters
  • courttan
    courttan
  • Meryl Feinstein, Pasta Social Club
    Meryl Feinstein, Pasta Social Club
Meryl Feinstein is a chef and pastaia who left the corporate world for the food industry in 2018. After graduating from the Institute of Culinary Education, Meryl got her start at the renowned New York establishments Lilia and Misi, where she was part of the pasta production team. During that time, Meryl founded Pasta Social Club, a platform that brings people together over a shared love of food, learning, and making connections both on- and offline. She now lives in Austin, where she hosts virtual pasta-making workshops and develops recipes. Her dishes draw on her travels in Italy, ongoing research into the rich history of traditional pasta-making, and her Jewish heritage.

14 Reviews

Melissa S. February 16, 2022
This was delicious. The whole family LOVED IT. And I love anything cheese! Tried cheese I never heard of before. I definitely want to challenge myself into making pasta sheets. Mine also needed a tad bit of salt but it was creamy and yes cheesy!!
 
mizerychik February 6, 2022
This sounds delicious, but that photo is unappealing to an extreme degree. It looks like mold has formed on the top, particularly in the thumbnail. Maybe switch to a cut picture, because I honestly thought those were two weeks past good leftovers and it made me wince.
 
Helen A. January 30, 2022
Wonderful! I made it yesterday! If you love lots of cheese and spinach, this is for you! WOW! I will make this again!
 
BallyB January 28, 2022
I was really disappointed with this when it first came out if the oven because both the spinach part and the cheesy sauce seemed so bland. My family absolutely loved it though and I couldn’t understand why. I tried some more a bit later though and it was like the whole dish suddenly made beautiful, incredibly delicious sense. Leftovers the next day seemed even more amazing! One thing I’d be sure not to do next time though is overly processing the spinach/ricotta etc mixture as mine was a tiny bit too pasty. That was my error though & not a fault of the recipe author’s. Thanks for a great recipe!!
 
Author Comment
Meryl F. January 28, 2022
I'm so glad you enjoyed it in the end! I totally agree with you - lasagna is always better after it sits for a while so it can set and the flavors can meld. My husband and I were really into the leftovers, too!
 
Girolamo261 January 26, 2022
I’m going to make this. However,I never boil my fresh lasagna sheets when using them in a traditional red sauce lasagna. Is boiling required in this recipe because there’s less water/moisture in this white lasagna style?
 
Author Comment
Meryl F. January 27, 2022
I've done it both ways. There's not as much moisture as a tomato or meat sauce here, but still plenty of sauce. I've found the pasta can get a little gummy without blanching, but if you prefer not to, it'll definitely still work. You might need to increase the covered cook time though. If you try it this way, I'd love to know how it worked out!
 
courttan January 24, 2022
Could you use frozen spinach?
 
BallyB January 26, 2022
I’m cooking this for the first time right now (just waiting for my spinach to drain & cool) so I’d be interested to hear any responses too! My opinion is obviously based on no experience of this actual recipe but I think the fresh spinach might turn out to have a brighter, stronger flavour. I throw frozen spinach into so many things I make so I have nothing against it though!
 
Author Comment
Meryl F. January 26, 2022
I haven't tried this with frozen spinach, and I agree the flavor won't be as bright, but I also think it'll be totally fine (I mean, how bad can it be with garlic, onion, and all that cheese? lol). I would imagine you'd need about 2-3 cups of frozen spinach. If you try it, I'd love to know how it works out!
 
Cali2020 January 26, 2022
I made this last night with two packages of frozen spinach (20oz total) and oven ready noodles because it is what I had on hand. I didn't make any other changes and it turned out great! Currently eating some reheated for lunch and it is just as good :)
 
Author Comment
Meryl F. January 26, 2022
Amazing, so happy to hear it!!
 
mriv32 January 17, 2022
Made this last night for dinner and omg it was absolutely to die for and somewhat easy to make! I will definitely be making this all the time
 
Author Comment
Meryl F. January 18, 2022
I'm so happy to hear you enjoyed it!! Thanks so much for giving it a try. :)