09.06.11_Spinach Lasagna with Bechamel Sauce

And we're back! After a week away we decided it was time to start back up on the blog! The past week has been a little bit of a roller coaster. The first couple of days I made some poor decisions about the type of foods I decided to eat. Our first meal back I really wanted a buffalo chicken sandwich but the bar we were having Happy Hour at had this special for chicken tenders. I ended up getting those with a side of hot sauce. The deep-fried chicken and greasy french fries was probably not the best way to reintroduce myself to meat. I felt terrible after. I highly doubt it was the chicken but it was still not a great first experience. The next day we were hanging out with our friend Amanda and we all decided to get McDonald's for dinner. Classy I know. Once again, not a great decision. Since then I would say about half of my meals have been vegetarian. I think I will continue to eat a lot of vegetarian meals but have meat every once in a while or for special occasions.

For our first blog post after our hiatus I decided to make a Spinach Lasagna with Bechamel Sauce. I felt like I had tried all kinds of new things in August so this would be a yummy dish that we were familiar with and who doesn't love lasagna? I had made this lasagna several years ago in college and decided I would try to just recreate it from memory. I looked up a general recipe for lasagna to make sure I bought enough ricotta, mozzarella, etc, but then the rest I just kind of made up (for the actual measurements and ingredients I used see the end of the post). I always forget how much work a lasagna can be because once it's all done its in one dish, but you forget how many pots and pans you dirty to get there, especially if you are making your own sauce!
To start I put a big pot of water on the stove for the noodles. While waiting for the water to boil, I started making the bechamel sauce which is basically just a normal white sauce. To make the sauce you first have to make a roux, which is just a mixture of equal parts butter and flour. I melted butter in a sauce pan and slowly whisked in the flour. After cooking the roux to get rid of the flour taste, I slowly added the milk. Once it was a good consistency, I seasoned with fresh nutmeg and S&P.

While the noodles were boiling, I sauteed half an onion and two cloves of garlic in a little bit of EVOO. In a separate bowl I combined a package of ricotta cheese, two eggs, a handful of mozzarella cheese and about a palm-full of Parmesan cheese. I then added the onion and garlic mixture as well as one packaged of frozen spinach that I had defrosted and squeezed all of the liquid out of. I zested a lemon, squeezed half the juice into the cheese mixture, and added S&P to season the mixture.

Once the noodles had cooked for about 12 minutes I started to layer my lasagna. First a little bit of the bechamel sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. Then a layer of lasagna noodles. I topped the noodles with a third of the cheese mixture and spread it out evenly. Finally a layer of the bechamel sauce top with a sprinkling of mozzarella cheese. I repeated this three times and then topped with another layer of noodles, a layer of the bechamel and finally the rest of the bag of mozzarella cheese.  The lasagna went into a 350 degree oven for an hour and came out golden brown on top. The next time I make this recipe again I would only zest half of the lemon or leave out the lemon juice and consider adding a little more spinach.

Bechamel Sauce Ingredients
2/3 stick of butter
2/3 cup of flour
4 cups milk
Salt and pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg to taste

Lasagna Ingredients
1 box lasagna noodles
1 box frozen spinach (defrosted and drained)
1 package ricotta cheese (15 oz)
1 cup Parmesan cheese
4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 lemon
2 eggs
2 cloves garlic
Half a medium onion or one shallot
Salt and pepper
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil