This is a delicious vegetarian meal. The directions may look long, but it’s actually fairly easy to put together – a little time consuming, but not hard. The trickiest part of this recipe is dealing with the phyllo dough. It dries out very quickly so when working with it. I always keep it completely covered with a damp towel, lest it dry out. It also tears pretty easily. I’m not sure how to fix that other than to either try to put the pieces back together or to sacrifice the sheets that tear. If the torn pieces are on the inside of whatever you’re making, you should be fine.
This recipe calls for nutmeg. Fresh nutmeg is best. I have cooked for years and I only discovered fresh nutmeg several years ago. It tastes MUCH better than the ground nutmeg that you pick up in the spice aisle at the supermarket. The flavor of the pre-ground nutmeg is not nearly as powerful as the freshly grated. In supermarket spice aisle, you should be able to find whole nutmeg. If you get a microplane zester to grate it, you’re in for a real treat.
Adapted from Sonali Ruder at foodnetwork.com
1 pound oven-ready lasagna noodles
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 onion, diced
2 pounds fresh spinach
1 tablespoons butter, plus 3 tablespoons, melted
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
6 scallions, chopped
1/3 cup finely chopped parsley leaves
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg (fresh if possible)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound feta cheese
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
4 sheets phyllo dough
1/2 cup dried bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Prepare the Bechamel Sauce:
In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until smooth, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the milk while continuing to whisk, until the sauce is smooth. Simmer for about 10 minutes until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Stir in the salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Set aside.
Prepare the Spinach Filling:
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large saute pan over medium heat, add half of the spinach, stirring until wilted and tender, about 3 minutes. Remove the spinach, place in a colander and squeeze out excess liquid, and then roughly chop. Repeat the process with the remaining spinach.
Heat the remaining olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter in the saucepan and add the onion. Saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic. Saute until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes, then add scallions. Saute another 2 to 3 minutes until scallions are soft, then add the spinach along with the parsley, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Stir the feta cheese and beaten egg into the cooled spinach mixture.
Assemble the lasagna:
Coat the bottom of a 13 by 9-inch lasagna pan with a thin layer of bechamel sauce. Arrange 4 noodles lengthwise on the sauce, slightly overlapping each other. Pour 1/3 of the bechamel sauce over the noodles. Then add 1/3 of the spinach mixture, spreading it out evenly. Top the spinach mixture with 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan and 1/3 cup of grated Mozzarella. Repeat with 2 more layers of noodles, sauce, spinach mixture, and cheeses.
For the topping, unroll the phyllo dough on a flat surface and keep it covered with a damp towel so that it doesn’t dry out. If you haven’t already melted your butter, put three tablespoons of butter into a microwave-safe dish and heat until melted. Place a sheet of phyllo on top of the lasagna. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle some bread crumbs evenly. Top with another phyllo sheet, brush with more butter and sprinkle with more bread crumbs. Repeat with the 2 remaining layers of phyllo. Tuck all the edges of the phyllo dough in. I used the end of my pastry brush to push the edges down between the lasagna and the lasagna pan. You don’t want the edges to stick up because they will curl during the baking process. Top the final layer with a mixture of the remaining melted butter, bread crumbs, and Parmesan.
Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, being careful not to overcook the phyllo. Remove from oven and let cool slightly before serving. Cut into squares and serve.
Yield: 6 – 8 servings