Lazy Lasagna with Lamb Ragu, Spinach and Ricotta
Lamb ragu adds a new taste to lasagna with ricotta and spinach.
For the lamb ragu:
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 1 1/2 pounds ground lamb
- A couple sprigs of rosemary, leaves picked and finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano or marjoram, finely chopped or 1 teaspoon dried oregano or marjoram
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped or grated
- 4 large cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup dry white wine
For the lasagna:
- 1 pound wavy edge lasagna noodles, broken into large, irregular pieces
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 rounded tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 cups milk
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 cups fresh ricotta cheese
- A generous handful of mint and/or parsley (about 1/4-1/3 cup), freshly chopped
- 2 boxes frozen organic, chopped spinach, defrosted and drained (10 ounces)
- 1 cup shredded or freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Cook’s Note: If doubled, the ragu recipe freezes well. Rather than making it into lasagna the second-time around, defrost the sauce, heat through, then stir in 1 cup warm milk and simmer to thicken. Serve with penne, rigatoni, pappardelle or bucatini pasta as an alternative to classic bolognese. Top with pecorino, mint and/or parsley.
For the ragu: Heat 2 tablespoons EVOO in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When the EVOO smokes, pat the ground lamb dry and add to the pan. Brown to caramelize the meat, then season with rosemary, oregano or marjoram, cloves, salt and pepper. Once the meat has browned, add the onion, carrot and garlic and cook to soften 10 minutes more, stirring frequently. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute, or until fragrant. Stir in the stock, then the wine; reduce the heat to low and gently simmer.
In salted boiling water, undercook the pasta by 2 minutes as listed on the package directions. Reserve a cup of the starchy pasta liquid.
Meanwhile, heat the butter in a saucepot over medium heat. Whisk in 2 tablespoons flour, 1-2 minutes, the whisk in the milk and simmer to thicken. Season the bechamel sauce with salt, pepper and nutmeg, to taste.
Drain the pasta and add it back to the pasta pot. Toss the pasta with the lamb ragu and some of the reserved starchy cooking water to loosen. Pour the pasta into a large casserole. Scatter the spinach around on top of the pasta.
Combine the ricotta with mint and/or parsley. Dot the pasta with ricotta evenly around the casserole. Pour the bechamel sauce in an even layer around the casserole and top with grated cheese. Cool and store for make-ahead meal. Reheat in 350°F oven, covered, for 30 minutes, then raise the heat to 425°F and bake uncovered, until brown and bubbly, 15-20 minutes.
To serve immediately, transfer the casserole to a preheated 425°F oven and bake about 15-20 minutes, until brown.