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Pasta + Noodles

Spinach and Ricotta Lasagne

This vegetarian Spinach and Ricotta Lasagne recipe is super delicious, rich on filling and easy to make. It’s budget-friendly and can easily be made gluten-free, including the ONION bechamel (YUM). Keeps well for a lunch box the next day, too!

Ricotta and Spinach Lasagne with Tomato Sauce

I’ve been cooking with ricotta and spinach (or silver beet) a lot lately. I love the flavour and texture of the two ingredients combined. It marries so well with Italian herbs and garlic. And, it makes a delicious healthy meat-free lasagne. Especially good when layered with good Napoletana tomato sauce and onion bechamel. Topped with a little cheese, of course!

Plus notes on how to make this spinach and ricotta lasagne recipe gluten-free and nightshade-free (no tomatoes).

Spinach and Ricotta Lasagne gluten free recipe

Can I use fresh spinach instead of frozen in a lasagne?

Yes you can! In fact, that’s usually my preference, but there is nothing wrong with the frozen sort.

A few tips. If using fresh spinach or silver beet, you must steam it or stir fry it in some olive oil first for it to reduce in volume. Don’t worry too much about squeezing the extra water from the steamed greens. It will help keep the lasagne sheets and the whole dish moist.

If using frozen spinach, defrost it in a sieve then gently squeeze out some of the water. You want to keep some of it to help keep the lasagne sheets and filling moist.

Spinach and Ricotta Lasagne Healthy and Easy

Should I drain ricotta for lasagne?

Yes and no – the answer depends on what type of ricotta you use for lasagne.

If you buy smooth ricotta in a container sometimes also called fresh ricotta, you might have to drain it. Scoop out the contents into a cheesecloth and hang over a dish like this. Store in the fridge for 24 hours before using.

Ricotta in blocks or in baskets sometimes called dry ricotta doesn’t need to be drained as most of the excess whey has been drained away already. The texture is more crumbly so there is no need to drain it. This is the version I prefer for this spinach and ricotta lasagne recipe.

Spinach and Ricotta Lasagne Recipe

How to make gluten-free lasagne?

You can easily make this spinach and ricotta lasagne recipe gluten-free!

I’ve provided notes in the recipe card below on using gluten-free lasagne sheets as well as gluten-free flour for the bechamel. However, if you want to skip pasta altogether, feel free to use thinly sliced layers of sweet potato or zucchini instead of lasagne sheets.

What to use instead of tomatoes in a lasagne?

If you are trying to avoid nightshades in your diet, you are probably looking for a no tomato lasagne recipe. What’s the perfect substitute for tomatoes or pasta sauce in a lasagne then?

I have found a great article on replacing tomatoes in cooking. It suggests using an underripe mango! It might sound odd but think about adding green mangoes to savoury thai salads, it just makes sense. Also, tomato technically is a fruit anyway.

Mango resembles the texture and also the sweet yet acidic flavour of tomatoes. If you can only find ripe or frozen ripe mangoes, adding a little tamarind puree (1/2 teaspoon maybe to a cup of mango) should do the trick!

Thank you to reader, Heidi, for raising the question.

Ricotta and Spinach Lasagne with Tomato Sauce
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Super quick and easy to make this Spinach and Ricotta Lasagne is a delcious meat-free alternative to the traditional Italian classic. Use gluten-free lasagne sheets and gluten-free flour to make the onion bechamel. However, if you want to skip pasta altogether, feel free to use thinly sliced layers of sweet potato or zucchini instead of lasagne sheets. Ricotta bought in blocks or baskets is best for this. I use full fat. Silver beet (about 1 large bunch), fresh English or baby spinach is great, but frozen spinach can also be used – see note below for exact amount conversions.

Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time50 mins
Servings: 4 people

Ingredients

Spinach and Ricotta Lasagne

  • 500 g fresh baby or English spinach leaves (see note below for silver beet or frozen spinach)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 500 g Ricotta (semi-firm texture, full fat – do not use smooth Ricotta)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp dried Italian herb mix
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Onion Bechamel

  • 1 medium onion
  • 25 g butter
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 4 tbsp plain flour (or plain gluten-free flour)
  • 3 cups milk

To assemble

  • 1 jar Napoletana pasta sauce (400g, I like Barilla)
  • 6 lasagne sheets (I like San Remo if using gluten-free)
  • 1 cup grated cheese (I used cheddar)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 180C (350F). Line a square baking tin with baking paper.
  • Roughly chop English Spinach, you can leave baby spinach leaves whole (see notes below for frozen spinach and silver beet). Peel and crush garlic.
  • Heat oil in a large pot or saucepan over medium heat. Add spinach and cook, stirring for 5 minutes or until the spinach leaves have wilted down. Stir through garlic. Remove from heat. Using a pair of kitchen scissors chop the spinach (still in the pan), roughly.
  • Place ricotta in a large bowl and break up into large chunks using a spoon. Add eggs, Italian herb mix, pepper and salt. Add wilted spinach and mix well. Set aside.

To make the Onion Bechamel

  • Peel and finely dice the onion. Place butter in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
  • Sprinkle the cooking onion with flour and quickly add half of the milk. Stir quickly for the sauce to thicken. Add the remaining milk and stir to bring to the simmer. Remove from heat.

To assemble the lasagne

  • Spread 3 tablespoons of Napoletana sauce over the baking paper-lined tin. Place 2 lasagne sheets over the top and spread with half of the spinach and ricotta mixture. Dollop a third of the onion bechamel over the ricotta mixture. Top with 2 lasagne sheets.
  • Spread the next layer with half of the leftover Napoletana Sauce. Top with spinach and ricotta mixture, spreading it to the edges. Dollop with a third of the onion bechamel. Top with the last 2 lasagne sheets.
  • Spread the rest of the Napoletana sauce over the lasagne sheets. Dollop with the bechamel and sprinkle with cheese.
  • Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the pasta is cooked through.

Notes

SPINACH NOTES
500g fresh English or baby spinach = 280g frozen spinach = 1 bunch silver beet (about 6 big stalks)
For frozen: make sure you thaw it out and squeeze out the water)
For silver beet: remove white stalks, use leaves only, chopped roughly. 
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4 comments

Jacqueline November 13, 2019 at 3:03 pm

Do you have any suggestions for how to make this without the eggs? Thank you!

Reply
Martyna @ Wholesome Cook November 13, 2019 at 3:31 pm

Hi Jacqueline you could omit the eggs, the filling will be less firm. Or use a chia seed egg replacer.

Reply
Heidi Schroder November 18, 2019 at 2:21 pm

I, like many others intolerant of gluten, am very sensitive to tomato and other nightshades. I’m wondering if you have any clever ideas for what to use instead of the tomato/ passata sauce?

Reply
Martyna @ Wholesome Cook November 25, 2019 at 10:47 am

Hi Heidi, thanks for the comment. I have found a great article on replacing tomatoes in cooking. It suggests using an underripe mango – this resembles the texture and also the sweet yet acidic flavour of tomatoes! It might sound odd but think about adding green mangoes to savoury thai salads, it just makes sense. Also, tomato technically is a fruit anyway. If you can only find ripe or frozen ripe mangoes, adding a little tamarind puree (1/2 teapoon maybe to a cup of mango) should do the trick! I like this idea so much I will be popping it into the post! Thank you for asking the question! http://vegetalion.blogspot.com/2010/11/how-to-replace-nightshades-part-4.html

Reply

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