There aren't a lot of things more satisfying than growing your own nutritious produce, mindfully preparing it, and serving it to your family. Zero-waste cooking hacks, such as freezing or drying herbs and greens and canning tomatoes, make your life in the kitchen a lot easier by saving time. I created a spinach lasagna from a few items I had lying around and a few pieces of garden delight. Read on and enjoy!
First of all, let's examine why spinach and tomatoes pair so beautifully for your health. Green leafy veggies provide more nutrients on a calorie-for-calorie measure than any other foods on the planet. Loaded with bone-healthy vitamin K, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D, spinach is a delicious powerhouse food that you can incorporate into your daily routine. (Think smoothies, sandwiches, and other yummy dishes.) My beloved tomatoes are chock-full of anticancer lycopene, lutein (great for the eyes and an awesome antioxidant), and vitamin C, which spinach also offers. Together, these two foods make a delicious food pairing with some serious health benefits.
We can tomatoes almost every year, preserving the nutrients and the flavor with a little lemon juice and basil from the garden. One hundred pounds of tomatoes (many purchased from the local Dallas Farmers Market, since we don't have enough space for that many plants) yields roughly 40-43 quart sized jars.
Now for the recipe:
Dallas Farmer Gal's Zero-Waste Spinach Lasagna
1 jar of tomatoes (or a quart can of crushed or peeled Italian tomatoes)
1 tbsp each of garden oregano, basil, and parsley
1/2 cup red wine that you should already have in the fridge for such a time as this
2 garlic cloves, diced
1 partially used onion that you've been saving, diced
Enough olive oil to saute your onion and garlic
30 oz spinach (3 bunches), fresh or frozen (if frozen, thaw and squeeze dry)
1 15-oz container of reduced-fat ricotta cheese
1 egg plus 1 egg white
1.5 cups mozzarella cheese (shred it yourself instead of buying the cardboard-flavored junk, then freeze the leftovers)
1/4 cup finely shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (never, ever from a green can)
1 package lasagna noodles, preferably no-boil to save you time
To make the sauce:
Heat the olive oil until shimmering. (Not smoking. If it smokes, start over to save yourself some carcinogen intake!) Add the onion and a pinch of salt, and cook on medium until it softens. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Deglaze the pot with the red wine, and reduce down to about 2 teaspoons. Add the tomatoes and their juices, squeezing or crushing the tomatoes by hand until you like the size. Throw in the herbs and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and let it go for at least a half an hour. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as you see fit, keeping sodium intake in the back of your mind.
To make the spinach blend:
Place the spinach, eggs, ricotta cheese, the rest of the basil, and season with salt and pepper. (The mixture won't be too creamy because of the reduced-fat ricotta. Feel free to blend with your hands if you'd like to really break the mixture down.)
At this time, preheat your oven to 375 so your house won't be so hot for as long.
Spread 1 cup of the sauce into a 9x13 baking dish.
Layer 4 lasagna noodles longways in the dish. (The noodles won't reach each side now, but they will expand during the baking process.)
Top with 1/3 the spinach mixture, pressing down with fingers to make sure it's as even as possible.
Add 1/2-3/4 cup mozzarella on top of the spinach. (Use your best judgment to see how much you like.)
Spread 1 more cup of the sauce evenly.
Top with 4 more lasagna noodles.
Repeat this process twice.
On the last layer of noodles, add the remaining mozzarella (or more, if you'd like), and the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Lightly oil some foil and loosely place on top of the dish.
Bake for 1 hour covered, and removed the foil to bake for another 10-15 minutes, depending on how toasty you like your cheese. Let it sit for 10 painstaking minutes so the lasagna will set nicely before slicing. Top with basil for decoration and flavor, and enjoy!
Be sure to share pics of your masterpiece and tag @dallasfarmergal so everyone in Ike & Eli's community can see them. I can't wait to see your creative interpretations, y'all!
Till next time,
Dallas Farmer Gal