Week night meals made EASY! Doesn't that statement just sound beautiful? This classic Italian recipe is about left overs me. My favorite kind of meal is a left over meal, I know that sounds crazy from a chef, but seriously I love them. The fact that you can open the fridge or freezer and warm up your meal that you made (so you know it's good) and not have to worry about making a mess of the kitchen is literally heaven. After a long day the last thing you want to do is prepare a gourmet meal. So by preparing dishes that freeze and store well you can eat gourmet that you prepared ahead of time.
A lasagna is like meal prepping. If you make enough to last you for 1 or 2 other meals depending on how many people you are feeding you have prepared another meal in the time it took you to make just one. Meal prepping is a big time savor and my definition of meal prep is literally left overs. When you take the time to cook a meal make a little extra especially when it comes to foods that freeze and store well. Lasagna is one of these freezer friendly meals that is an easy meal prep and magnificent left over.
Not only does lasagna make for a great weeknight meal, left over, and simple meal prep, but it is also a wonderful dish to prepare for guests or a Sunday supper. Sundays are family days for us. Usually we go out to eat a late lunch early dinner, but occasionally we all get together at someones house to eat, drink, and hang out. When it is grilling season you can be sure we are using that grill. Now that summer is over we are using it a bit less and the change in season means a change in menu. Lasagnas are a go to. Like I said they are simple to prepare and they feed a lot of people. You can also prepare it earlier in the day, put foil over it and place it in the fridge until it is ready to pop it in the oven and eat.
Did you know the origin of lasagna isn't Italian? I know that we associate it with Italy, and they have mastered the present day form of lasagna. It actually originated in Greece, and the word lasagna comes from the Greek word for pasta, "laganon". The original lasagna was layers of pasta and sauce. Not much has change. Lasagna as we know we it is literally layers of pasta and sauce. The Italian addition of cheese has in my opinion made it exceptionally delicious. There are 2 sauces used in the Italian traditional lasagna recipe: bolognese and marinara sauce. Bolognese sauce is the traditional sauce of Bologna, Italy. Hence the name, bolognese. It is a meat sauce. The marinara sauce in a lasagna is a tomato based sauce and can be either filled with herbs, vegetables, or just tomatoes. The ways to make a lasagna are endless since the definition is layers of pasta and sauce. This recipe I created is a whole wheat lasagna with layers of spinach and beef bolognese, marinara sauce, and cheese. It is a take on the Italian and classic version of lasagna.
So whether you are making this for a family weeknight meal, a Sunday get together, or meal prepping lasagna is the way to go!
Yields 9 servings
Time 40-60 minutes
Whole Wheat Lasagna Noodles
1 cup Marinara Sauce
1 cup Whole Milk Ricotta
¼ - ½ cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
6 Slices Mozzarella Cheese
1 lb Ground Beef – cooked
1 small Yellow onion – small dice
1 cup frozen spinach - thawed
1 teaspoon olive oil
Fresh Basil Leaves
Salt + Pepper
1. Fill a large pasta pan with water and bring to a boil. Once boiling add salt and add the whole wheat lasagna noodles. Boil for 7-9 minutes, until al dente. Drain the water and remove the noodles.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
3. In a skillet pan heat the olive oil. Once hot add the onion and saute with some salt for 2-4 minutes over medium heat. Let the onions sweat and become translucent.
4. Season the ground beef with salt and pepper while the onions saute. Then add the ground beef and cook until it is browned, when the beef is almost browned add the spinach and season again with salt and pepper.
5. To prepare the lasagna use a Pyrex pan about 9x9.
6. Spread an even layer of marinara sauce on the bottom of the Pyrex. Cut the cooked lasagna noodles in ½ and place on top of the marinara sauce. Add an even layer of ground beef, then spread an even layer of ricotta cheese, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Then spread marinara sauce and repeat the layers.
7. Top the last noodles with sliced mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese.
8. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes and then place on broil for the top become golden brown. Once out of the oven garnish with fresh basil, cut and serve hot.
*** Cut individual pieces before freezing. Freeze in an airtight container and it will keep for 1-2 months in the freezer. ***