Say hello to the ultimate vegetarian lasagna. Three hearty layers of pasta, marinara, ricotta, mozzarella, and garlicky spinach ensure both vegetarians and omnivores will be satisfied. And we’re not talking about a wimpy handful of spinach: Nope, an entire pound of baby spinach is tucked among the layers, giving you a little something green in every cozy, decadent bite. Here, I’ll show you how easy it is to make.
The Smartest, Fastest Spinach Lasagna
Lasagna is often a labor love, but thanks to a few lasagna-making tricks I’ve picked up over the years, this one is simple and streamlined.
- Soak your lasagna noodles. I picked up this smart tip from Ina Garten and have used it ever since. Instead of par-boiling your noodles or using no-boil noodles (which don’t cook up to have the same al dente texture as regular noodles), soak them in hot tap water while you prepare the fillings. This softens them so they cook efficiently between the layers of sauce, cheese, and spinach. I like to soak the noodles in the lasagna pan. Just drain the water when you’re ready to layer, and you have one fewer dish to clean.
- Lean on store-bought sauce. Since I would like to have more lasagna in my life, I’m all for taking shortcuts to streamline the often-lengthy process. One easy way to cut down on prep time is to reach for store-bought marinara. Just be sure it’s one you love! My favorite (and the favorite of pretty much all Kitchn staffers) is Rao’s.
Do You Need to Cook Spinach Before Adding It to Lasagna?
Yes — but don’t overdo it! Fresh spinach releases a lot of water as it cooks, which can result in a soggy lasagna. That’s why you’ll want to sauté the spinach until it just wilts, which prevents it from releasing too much liquid too quickly. It will continue to soften in the oven, and any additional water that’s released will be absorbed by the lasagna noodles as they cook.
If you opt for frozen spinach, you need to make sure it’s as dry as possible. Start by thawing the spinach, then wrap it in a dish towel and squeeze out as much liquid as possible before sautéing it with the aromatics.
When Should I Use Béchamel vs. Ricotta?
Traditional Italian lasagnas use Béchamel sauce to achieve creamy richness between each layer. The white, milk-based sauce — enriched and thickened with butter and flour — is luxe and indulgent, but isn’t necessary for all lasagnas. Italian-American lasagna recipes generally call for ricotta cheese, which is equally creamy but much easier.
Serving Spinach Lasagna
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YieldServes 8 to 10
Prep time 30 minutes
Cook time 43 minutes
dried lasagna noodles (not no-boil, about 2/3 of a 1-pound box)
medium yellow onion
- 3 cloves
- 12 ounces
low-moisture whole-milk or part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 3 cups)
- 2 ounces
Parmesan cheese, finely grated (about 1 firmly packed cup grated on a Microplane or 2/3 cup store-bought)
- 2 tablespoons
- 1 pound
baby spinach, or 1 (16-ounce) package frozen spinach
- 3/4 teaspoon
kosher salt, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon
freshly ground black pepper, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon
red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 (15- to 16-ounce) container
whole-milk ricotta cheese (about 2 cups)
- 1 (32-ounce) jar
marinara sauce (about 3 1/2 cups), such as Rao’s
Thaw frozen spinach, if necessary. If using frozen spinach, thaw 16 ounces according to package directions. Transfer to a clean kitchen towel, roll it up in the towel, and squeeze out all the excess moisture.
Soak the lasagna noodles. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F. Meanwhile, arrange 15 dry lasagna noodles in an even layer in a 9x13-inch baking dish. Cover the noodles with hot tap water and let soak while you prepare the spinach and cheeses, about 20 minutes.
Prepare the aromatics and cheeses. Dice 1 medium yellow onion. Mince 3 garlic cloves. Grate 12 ounces low-moisture mozzarella cheese on the large holes of a box grater (about 3 cups). Finely grate 2 ounces Parmesan cheese (about 1 packed cup).
Sauté the aromatics and spinach. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. If using fresh baby spinach, add 1 pound a few handfuls at a time and stir until just wilted, about 5 minutes. If using frozen spinach, add to pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated, about 2 minutes. Season with 1/2 teaspoon of the kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, if using. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes.
Make the ricotta mixture. Meanwhile, place half of the Parmesan cheese, 1 container ricotta cheese, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper in a medium bowl and stir to combine.
Begin to assemble the lasagna. Drain the lasagna noodles and set aside. Spread a thin layer of marinara sauce from a 32-ounce jar into the baking dish.
Layer the lasagna. Arrange 5 lasagna noodles in an even layer on top of the sauce, breaking them if needed to fit (it’s okay if the noodles overlap slightly). Dollop and spread half of the ricotta mixture over the noodles. Spoon half of the spinach over the ricotta, then sprinkle with 1 cup of the mozzarella. Dollop and spread about a third of the marinara sauce (about 1 heaping cup) over the mozzarella.
Finish layering the lasagna. Arrange 5 more noodles over the mozzarella, followed by the remaining ricotta mixture, remaining spinach, 1 cup of the mozzarella, and 1 heaping cup of the marinara sauce. Top with the remaining 5 noodles and the remaining sauce, spreading the sauce thin so that it almost completely covers the noodles. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup mozzarella and Parmesan.
Bake the lasagna. Bake uncovered until the cheeses are melted and lightly browned, and the sauce is bubbling, about 30 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.
Make ahead: The lasagna can be assembled and refrigerated unbaked up to 2 days in advance, or frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw the frozen lasagna for 2 days in the refrigerator before baking.
Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated, tightly wrapped, for up to 3 days.