Recipes from the Grapevine Cottage

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Linda's Lasagna

This Lasagna is another one of those recipes that has evolved over a number of years. It is the product of many experiments, most of them on me, so I like to think I had some input. Anyway, it has Italian sausage, it has spinach, real ricotta, and it's really good... Give it a try!

Serves 8 - 10

As with many of our recipes, you can vary the quantity of some of the ingredients depending upon your taste buds. Do you like sausage - then use mostly sausage and forget the ground beef. Want it milder for younger palates — eliminate the red pepper flakes, etc.

Start by cooking a 1 pound box of lasagna noodles per the directions on the box. I almost hate to admit it, but I have never tried the "no boil" variety; but I guess you could substitute them in this recipe. I sort of enjoy the whole process of having noodles cooking while preparing the rest of the ingredients!

Also, go ahead and de-stem and wash 1 bunch of fresh spinach, or use the fresh bagged variety.

Meat Sauce Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground Italian sausage
1 pound lean ground beef
1 8 ounce package sliced freshmushrooms
3 large cloves garlic, chopped (or about 5 tablespoons chopped garlic from a jar)
1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (depending on much "bite" you enjoy)
Salt & Black Pepper to taste
1 28 ounce jar of good marinara/spaghetti-type sauce
1 14-1/2 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained


Heat oil in large skillet or pot over medium heat. Sauté the garlic for a minute or so until fragrant. Add sliced mushrooms and sauté for several minutes until softened, but not necessarily cooked through. Set aside. Add meat and brown, breaking it up into small pieces (when the sausage "clumps" while cooking, I have been known to pulse it in the food processor a few times - works great to break it up). Add red pepper flakes, salt and black pepper to taste and Italian seasoning. Stir in jar of sauce with meat, and then begin adding the diced tomatoes until you reach a consistency you like. I don't always use the entire can - again, this is based upon how chunky or tomatoey you like your sauce.

Cheese Filling

1 15 ounce container ricotta cheese (we use regular, but low-fat is fine)
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 egg
1 tablespoon dried basil, or 1 package fresh basil leaves (about 3/4 cup or so)
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional, but it imparts a wonderful, little extra flavor)
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Mix everything but the mozzarella cheese together in a mixing bowl, or you can pulse it a few times through a food processor to blend it.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with a non-stick oil. Place an overlapping layer of noodles in the bottom of dish. Spread about half of the meat sauce over the noodles. Now place a layer of spinach leaves to about 3/4 to 1-inch thickness (they really cook down). Spread the ricotta cheese mixture carefully over the spinach leaves, making sure you reach the corners. Sprinkle most of the mozzarella cheese over the ricotta filling (saving a little for the top). Place another layer of overlapping noodles over the cheeses, and then spread remaining meat sauce on top. Bake, covered with foil, for about 15 minutes, then uncover and continue baking for another 30 - 40 minutes. With about 5 minutes to go, sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese on top. Let sit for about 10 minutes before serving.

We freeze individual pieces of lasagna by wrapping in plastic wrap and then foil. Just remove the foil and you can thaw/warm it easily in the microwave for a quick dinner. Bon appetit!