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!
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).
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.
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.
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.
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
- 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
- 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)
- 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.