My Birthday Meal – Featuring Spinach-Beef Lasagna

Was invited out for an evening meal on my birthday, but both Alan and I felt we’d rather cook a meal at home instead, so had the inviters become the invitees.  Hadn’t made lasagna in a long time, so decided this would be the main dish. Served with roasted asparagus and mixed salad greens with a balsamic vinaigrette to complete the meal. One of the guests brought brownies for dessert (heavenly) and another a nice red Spanish wine.

Everyone absolutely loved the lasagna. And here is the recipe:

Spinach Beef Lasagna

1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
26-32 oz. jar sphagetti sauce (I used a Basil Tomato flavor)
1 15 oz. can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 cup water, about (substitute a dry red wine for half the water – awesome)
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
15 oz. carton ricotta cheese
10 oz. pkg of frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 egg, lightly beaten
8 whole wheat lasagna noodles, uncooked
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Brown hamburger, draining fat as needed. When almost done, add onions and garlic. Cook until onions are almost done – another 5-7 minutes. Add about a tsp of sea salt and about 1/2 tsp. black pepper. I grind my black pepper, so it’s hard to give an amount, but like putting a lot of black pepper on ground beef as it adds a nice flavor.
2. Add spaghetti sauce, diced tomatoes, basil, oregano, pepper flakes. Cook another 5-10 minutes to blend flavors. Adjust the seasonings as desired. The herb amounts are guesstimates as I just grabbed some out of the spice bag.
3. Add enough water to make the mixture a bit on the soupy side. The uncooked noodles will absorb this liquid during the baking phase. If it looks too soupy, cook it down a bit.
4. In another bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, egg, and spinach.
5. In a 9 x 13 inch pan, put 2 cups of the tomato/beef mixture. Layer 3 noodles lengthwise, and then a 4th noodle across the top. You may have to break a part of the 4th noodle off to fit.
6. Spread the ricotta cheese mixture over the noodles, followed by 1 cup of mozzarella cheese.
7. Top with 1 1/2 cups tomato/beef tomato mixture.
8. Add 4 more lasagna noodles in same fashion as noted above and then top with the remaining tomato beef mixture.
9. Bake in a 375 degree oven until noodles are done – 45-60 minutes (the whole wheat noodles will take closer to an hour).
10. Top with remaining cup of mozzarella cheese along with some more Parmesan if desired. Put back in oven another 5 minutes to melt cheese.
11. Remove from oven and let stand 15-20 minutes before serving.