Monday, May 23, 2011

Make-It-After-the-Track-Meet Spinach Lasagna

Shivering my way through another junior high track meet, I dreamed of a nice, hot dinner to warm our bones.  Having not started anything ahead of time, I was faced with some sort of quick convenience meal, or a new idea.  I was craving lasagna, so in between events, came up with a fast-to-make version.  I would have about 40 minutes, between when I got home and the hungry athletes came in behind me, to make this happen.                                                                                                                              
Quick Spinach Lasagna

I began by heating a big pot of water to boiling in which to cook
14 oz of rotini pasta (I use Barilla Plus, which is multigrain with Omega 3s and more protein than standard pastas...Any shape you like would work, of course.)   
according to package directions.                                                                                                                                                                                             
I preheated the oven to 375 degrees, and stirred together
2 to 2 1/2 cups Part-Skim Ricotta Cheese (Cottage cheese works, too)
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
2 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp nutmeg
then loaded it into a ZipLoc bag which had one corner snipped off, and set it aside.                                                                                                                                                  
I simplified the layering steps, first by mixing the cooked pasta with
5 - 6 cups Spaghetti Sauce -- our faves are homemade or Prego Traditional                                                                                                                                 
In a greased, glass baking pan (9 x 13), I layered the elements in this order:                                                                                  
1)  Half of the pasta and sauce mixture                                                                                
2)  2 - 3 cups Spinach leaves, uncooked                                                                                                       
3)  The reserved Ricotta cheese mixture, extruded through the corner of a plastic bag (like using a pastry bag).  This distributed the soft cheese more evenly and made it easier to spread over the loose leaves.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
4)  1 cup Mozzarella Cheese, shredded                                                                                      
5)  Remaining half of the pasta mix                                                                 
6)  1 cup shredded Mozzarella Cheese                                                                                                            
To speed the heating process, I covered the dish with plastic wrap and microwaved on high for 10 minutes, then removed the plastic (beware of hot steam), and placed the pan in the oven to heat to bubbly and brown.                                                                                                                                                                              
The crew had to wait the 10 impatient minutes for the dinner to come out of the oven, but all were happy in the end.                                                                                                                         

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