By admin | December 21, 2011

BY EMMA HABERMAN

The Christmas dinner tradition varies from household to household – Christmas goose, Christmas ham, Christmas Chinese take-out, Christmas lasagna. Somehow the idea of Christmas lasagna was the hardest for me to wrap my mind around…until I made one of my own.

Layered with hearty Bolognese sauce and fluffy spinach-ricotta filling, this lasagna from the dearly missed Gourmet magazine hits all the necessary Christmas supper notes: warmth, comfort, even red and green holiday colors. The Bolognese is gentle but flavorful, and freezes well if you have extra sauce leftover. The spinach-ricotta mixture is light and airy, almost like a souffle within a lasagna, so the dish is filling but not heavy.

Embrace your inner Italian this holiday season – you just might start a new household tradition.

Lasagna Bolognese with Spinach Filling Recipe

Adapted from Gourmet

Ingredients:

For Bolognese sauce:
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
1 celery rib, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 pounds ground beef
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup milk
1 15-ounce can crushed San Marzano tomatoes
3 tablespoons tomato paste
Salt
Black pepper

For ricotta filling:
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 10-ounce packages fresh spinach, chopped
2 15-ounce containers whole milk ricotta
4 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup pecorino cheese, finely grated
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 cup milk
Salt
Black pepper

For assembling lasagna:
12 no-boil lasagna noodles
1/4 cup pecorino cheese, finely grated
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

Method:

  1. Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a large, heavy saucepan until simmering. Cook the garlic, onion, carrot and celery until the vegetables are softened, about 12 minutes.
  2. Add the beef and cook, stirring and breaking up any lumps until meat is browned. Stir in wine, milk, crushed tomatoes and tomato paste and stir well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated and sauce has thickened, about 45 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium-sized skillet. Saute the spinach in batches until wilted. This should only take a few seconds in a hot skillet. Place the spinach in a strainer to dry and set aside.
  4. Whisk together ricotta, eggs, pecorino, mozzarella, nutmeg, 11/4 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Separate 1/2 cup of the mixture into another bowl and whisk in 1/4 cup of milk. Set aside. Whisk spinach into the remaining filling with the remaining 1/4 cup of milk.
  5. Soak the lasagna noodles in a large bowl of warm water until moist, but not softened, 3-5 minutes.
  6. Assemble the lasagna. Spread 11/2 cups of Bolognese sauce in the bottom of a 9- by 13-inch baking pan, top with 1 tablespoon of pecorino. Cover with 3 noodles, leaving space in between. Spread 1/3 of the spinach topping on top, then add 1 cup Bolognese sauce and top with 1 tablespoon pecorino and 3 noodles. Repeat two more times. Top the final layer of noodles with the reserved ricotta mixture, and cover with remaining pecorino and 1/4 cup of mozzarella.
  7. Cover the pan loosely with tin foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes, until lasagna is bubbling and browned in spots. Let stand for 15 minutes before cutting.

You can follow Emma on Twitter (@habermania)

Photos: Emma Haberman

To read more tips and recipes from Emma, follow me on Twitter (@MarcusCooks)

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