Friday, December 31, 2010

Meat Lasagna with Mozzarella and Spinach

After watching Eat Pray Love, I just had to go Italian.  I call up my mother who’s on the way to the snow, stuck on hwy 80, I might add, and behind two other stuck cars all in the spirit of New Years.  Despite dinner sounding like the best thing with since sliced bread, she gave me the run around on how she likes to do things.  Lord knows, she had the time to chat food.  From there, I accumulated my favorite renditions of the grand Italian dish.

Lasagna was always in the menu for when company was coming over.  Mom was predictably unpredictable.  She would either make something completely new for guests (logic being: if it wasn’t good, we’d all laugh and she’d say “oh well, had to try it out on someone.”)  This was smart because then we wouldn’t get stuck with left overs.  And if it was good, then she’d make it again soon.  But if she wasn’t venturing out, it would be her classic lasagna.

I’ve never been a ricotta person.  I think it’s quite bland, and reminds me of cottage cheese.  What I loved about her recipe was it high-lighted other fantastic cheeses, meats and veggies.  And there was always left overs!

Meat Lasagna with Mozzarella and Spinach


1 large onion
6 cloves minced garlic
1 tomato, diced
1 pound ground beef
12 oz tomato paste
12-15 oz water
¼ cup fresh chopped basil (less if dried)
Salt and Pepper
1 tsp oregano
½ tsp red pepper chili flakes

Follow directions on box.  Do not over cook.  I added oil to water to prevent sticking.

3 cups grated mozzarella
1 cup grated parmesan reggiano
3 cups fresh spinach

Start your sauce in your pot by sweating onions and garlic with salt and then adding tomatoes about 5 min after.  During this break down, in a separate pan, brown your meat of choice with salt and pepper.

my favorite step to any dish.  i love the aromas.  it reminds me that all the work will be worth it.
Add meat to pot along with the rest of the ingredients.  Bring to a boil, then simmer about 45 min, letting it reduce.  Thicker is better for lasagna, don’t want a watery sauce filling the plate after serving.  The fresh tomato will add a little moisture, you can decide on the water.

This was what I started with.  Chris ended up grating more by my final layers... can you have too much cheese?!  NO WAY!

When the team is all ready, have them take the field.  Get your bases loaded.  

Spray the pan with oil.  Put a little sauce in the bottom on the dish (about 9 x 13).  Then layer the noodles.

It’s ok if a few tear, no one will notice.  And similar to a home made pie crust we’re going for the homey look, not the Tyler’s Ultimate Lasagna look.   Add more oil to noodles if getting sticky during the layering.  They get a little impatient waiting to be chosen…

I ended up layering about 4 over lapping each other more on the layers to come.

Then layer sauce, a sprinkling of both cheeses (more of the mozzarella) and the spinach.  Keep layering until you just can’t handle anymore, or you run out of a particular ingredient haha. 

Then bake dish uncovered at 350 for 45 min.

Let cool, and open your wine. 

WINE MOMENT: We enjoyed one from Monterey’s Heller Estate.  It had aged beautifully- a real robust merlot, just how we like it.  Look at that cork, nearly dipped in ink.  

I've also been playing more with serving temperature these days.  Many have heard to drink red wine at room temperature, but that adage came about in Britain back in the day when the average home temp was in the 60s.  Today, we keep our homes around 70, so your red could use some slight chilling.  Ideal would be 55-60 for white and 60-65 degrees for red.  20 minute rule: chill whites for several hours and then remove from fridge 20 MINUTES BEFORE SERVING, and for reds stored at room temp, CHILL 20 MINUTES BEFORE SERVIING.  Trust me, you’ll never go back to room temp reds after a slightly chilled glass.   

Enjoy your meal with guests, or just indulge with Italian music in the background for a lovely evening in.  That's Amore!


  1. You make me look good...thanks. Love you honey!

  2. Noelle, I just made this on Wednesday (celebrating the end of my semester!) and I added a little twist with chopped artichoke hearts in the middle layer. I also used a garlic/herb pasta sauce and left out the parmesan reggiano. Drew and I enjoyed a delicious Zin with the lasagna. What a GREAT recipe! My only regret is that I didn't take photos!! However, I will definitely be making it again. :)

    1. Anna! So great! Artichoke sounds yummy! Glad you enjoyed it!

  3. I finalllllllly made this last night! It was delish!! Here's the finished product:

    1. yay! glad you liked it Steph! just had taylor and Brit over for dinner and this is exactly what taylor requested for his birthday dinner from me. :)