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Lasagna With Six Cheeses

I’ve always had a preference for meatless lasagna, ever since having it that way at a tiny, long-gone French Quarter Italian cafe called Eva’s Spot in the 1970s. They were so proud of it that they charged twice as much for lasagna as they did for anything else on the menu. The trick with this is picking out the right cheeses, the kind that will melt nicely without turning the whole thing greasy. That means no Cheddar or Swiss. The pasta should be cooked only long enough to take the stiffness out. And the sauce is cooked very briefly–you don’t want the eight-hour sauce in here.

  • Sauce:
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. chopped garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 28-oz. cans Italian plum tomatoes, whole
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • Other ingredients:
  • 8 oz. lasagna noodles (or, better, 12 oz. fresh pasta sheets)
  • 10 oz. bag fresh spinach, picked and well washed
  • 8 oz. Fontina cheese
  • 8 oz. mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 8 oz. ricotta cheese
  • 4 oz. Provolone cheese (shredded)
  • 3/4 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

1. Make the sauce first. Drain the tomatoes (reserve the juice) and put them into a food processor; chop to a rough puree. (You can also do this with your fingers in a bowl.)

2. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat till the oil shimmers. Saute the garlic and crushed red pepper for about a minute–until you can smell the garlic.

3. Add the tomatoes, 1/2 cup of the reserved juice, basil, oregano, and salt. Bring to a boil, and lower the heat to medium-low. Simmer for about twenty minutes, uncovered. Then keep on the lowest possible heat while you continue with the rest of the recipe.

4. Bring a large pot of water to a boil with 1 Tbs. salt and 1 Tbs. olive oil. Add the lasagna noodles and boil for about two minutes, or until the noodles are no longer stiff. Remove to a bowl of cold water for a moment, then remove and drain. (Leave this step out if using fresh pasta sheets.)

5. Cook the spinach in the same water you used to cook the pasta, just for a minute. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain, and spread out.

6. Coat the inside of a glass or ceramic baking dish (about 9″ x 13″ x 4″) with olive oil. Pour about 1/4 cup of the sauce on the bottom. Make the following layers, alternating the direction of the pasta with each layer:

Lasagna

Pasta.
1/3 cup sauce.
Fontina cheese.
1/4 cup Romano.
Pasta.
1/3 cup sauce.
Spinach.
Ricotta.
1/4 cup Romano.
Pasta.
1/3 cup sauce.
Provolone.
Spinach.
1/4 cup Romano.
Pasta.
1/3 cup sauce.
Mozzarella.
Pasta.
Remaining sauce.
Parmesan.

7. Cover the casserole with aluminum foil and bake in the center of the oven at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and return to the oven until a light crust has formed on the top.

8. After removing from the oven, let the lasagna rest for at least 15 minutes before attempting to slice. Serve with a wide metal spatula to keep it together (almost impossible to do with the first slice).

Serves about eight.

1 Readers Commented

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  1. tpcelt on January 2, 2015

    I made this recipe during the past week. I halved it, but it was so popular that I should have prepared the full amount! Using non-greasy cheese and cooking the noodles for only the 2 minutes makes a big difference over both homemade and restaurant recipes that I’ve tried.

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