The lasagna I was picturing in my head while making this was good ole Stouffer’s frozen vegetable lasagna. A fond childhood memory of creamy, rich, slightly mushy deliciousness that I haven’t had in years. Was it actually good, or is my memory painting a rosier picture than reality? All I know is that it hit the right buttons for my ten-year-old self, so why not try to recreate it.
I bought no-boil noodles and used frozen spinach, which made it a pretty easy recipe. Unlike the Stouffer’s version, I topped it with a layer of sliced tomatoes rather than buttered bread crumbs, which I think was the right move.
Start by sautéing some onions in butter and a bit of olive oil. While the onions are softening, prepare your veggies: shred a couple of carrots, chop up your broccoli, and grab some frozen spinach (or cook, drain, and chop fresh leaves).
I was afraid the shredded carrots would get mushy if they were overcooked, so I didn’t sauté them this time (just stirred them into the sauce along with the broccoli and spinach), but they were a bit firm in the end so I’d recommend adding cooking them along with the onions at this stage. Don’t forget to season as you go!
Next, sprinkle in a couple tablespoons of flour and stir (don’t stop stirring!) for two to three minutes to give the flour a chance to cook and get coated by the fat molecules in your butter and oil. Take the pan off the heat and gradually stir in two cups of milk. Put it back on the burner and wait for it to thicken into a rich bechamel sauce, the base of your veggie filling.
Stir in the spinach and give it a chance to melt into the sauce if it hasn’t fully defrosted already. Then stir in the rest of your vegetables. Turn off the heat and stir in ricotta or cottage cheese.
Now pat yourself on the back–you’re done with the filling! All that’s left is assembly.
Spread a bit of the vegetable mixture on the bottom of your baking pan, then arrange a layer of noodles on top. I had to break my noodles a bit to fit correctly into the pan–this has absolutely zero effect on the final look or texture so just go ahead and do what you gotta do to lay down your noodles. Continue reading