Bonjour from France! We arrived yesterday and are settling in just fine. We’ve already had our first croissants, a couple glasses of French wine and one amazing dinner (I had escargots that were seriously incredible!). We are off to look at an apartment this morning, hoping it’ll suffice for the 3 months. I have been meaning to post this recipe since I made it last week and it definitely seems odd that my first post in France is an Italian inspired recipe, but hey, same continent and if it’s good, it’s good! I can’t wait to start cooking French recipes in France, but that means I need a kitchen first – which hopefully by this afternoon I will have! In any event, bonne journée à vous et à bientôt (which means “good day to you and speak soon”).
1 word describes this lasagna….WOW.
I had leftover bolognese sauce in the freezer and knew I had to use it up before we left for France. The idea of the traditional spaghetti and bolognese sauce wasn’t doing it for me, but then the idea of lasagna popped into my head and I was set. My Mom makes amazing lasagna (as does my Matante – which is French Canadian for auntie!), so I had high-standards to meet.
I rose to the challenge and the combination of the bolognese sauce, spinach, zucchini and the various cheeses’ were incredible. The bolognese sauce added an incredible depth of flavour to the lasagna – so much more that your typical tomato sauce. With that said, feel free to use your favourite sauce in this recipe – a tomato sauce with sausage, a vegetable based tomato sauce or your own favourite bolognese sauce – really any sauce that you love will work well here (but I guarantee that my bolognese sauce is worth the effort!).
This made a huge lasagna, which was welcome news in our house as we had a very busy week with exams and preparing for France. It is true that lasagna is one of those dishes that gets better over the next few days, and we enjoyed the leftovers, just as much as the first night.
Feel free to play around with the ingredients, I used what I had on hand and it turned out perfectly. But add in some carrots or eggplant, or use ricotta instead of cottage cheese – I love that lasagna is so versatile. Just be sure to write everything down that you use, so that you can make it again. I luckily had CH studying at the dining table and yelled out everything that I was using to him. Now, if only I didn’t need a microscope and a language decoder to read his hand-writing, I would be set.
So, do yourself a favour and make a lasagna soon! It is a lot of work, but as they say in French, ça vaut la peine. (it’s worth it). You will be thankful for not only the delicious dinner, but the even better leftovers!
JBean’s Bolognese Lasagna
Yield: 8 large servings (12 small-servings)
Prep Time: 30 minutes (not including bolognese sauce)
Cook Time: 1hr and 25 minutes
- 2/3 box of lasagna noodles (about 12 lasagna noodles – but cook a few extra just in case!)
- 6 cups JBean’s Bolognese sauce (or sauce of your preference)
- 2 cups canned whole tomatoes, puréed
- 1 medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise very thinly
- 1 tsp olive oil (for zucchini strips)
- 6 cups fresh spinach
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced or grated
- 1 tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cups cottage cheese (I used 1%)
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup parmesan, finely grated
- 3.5 cups mozzarella, shredded
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles as directed, until al dente. Drain and set-aside until read to use. Note – I usually lay the cooked noodles on my countertop (which I line with parchment paper), so that the noodles don’t stick together and they remain flat, ready for use!
Combine bolognese sauce and canned tomatoes together and warm in a large stockpot over medium heat.
Place zucchini strips on a baking sheet, brush lightly with olive oil and place under broiler for 2 – 3 minutes, until slightly limp. Remove from oven and set-aside.
While the zucchini strips are broiling, heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the oil and heat for 30 seconds. Add the grated garlic to the pan and cook until fragrant (30 seconds). Add the spinach to the pan and cook until spinach is limp and most of the moisture has evaporated (about 2 – 3 minutes). Remove from heat and set-aside.
In a large bowl, combine the cottage cheese, eggs, 1/2 cup of parmesan and 3/4 cup of mozzarella. Season with S&P and mix well. Set-aside until ready for use.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Set a large 9×13 lasagna dish on top of a cookie/baking sheet and begin preparing your lasagna (I always set my lasagna dish on-top of a cookie sheet, just in case it decides to boil over a bit – easier clean-up – but this is optional)!
Begin by spreading 2 cups of the bolognese sauce on the bottom of your lasagna plan. Top with 4 or so lasagna noodles (it will depend on your pan, but 4 should be perfect, slightly overlapping each noodle).
Next, layer the zucchini strips on top of the noodles. Spread 2 cups of bolognese sauce on top of the zucchini and sprinkle 1 cup of mozzarella evenly over-top of the sauce.
Add the second layer of lasagna noodles (4 noodles, slightly overlapping).
Evenly spread the entire amount of the cottage cheese/egg mixture over the noodles. Then, spread the spinach mixture evenly on-top. Spread 2 cups of bolognese sauce over the spinach and top with 1 cup of shredded mozzarella, ensuring that you are evenly (as best possible) covering it.
Top with the final layer of lasagna noodles (4 noodles, slightly overlapping) and evenly spread remaining bolognese sauce on-top of the noodles. At this point, you will have some remaining mozzarella and 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese – that’s OK, keep reading!
Cover the lasagna pan tightly with foil and bake at 375 for 1 hour.
After 1 hour, remove the foil, top with the remaining mozzarella and parmesan cheese and bake for an additional 20 – 25 minutes, allowing the cheeses’ to brown nicely.
Remove the lasagna from oven, cover loosely with foil and allow lasagna to stand 10-15 minutes before serving.
(NOTE: I personally cover my lasagna and cook it almost completely before adding the final cheese mixtures to the top, because I find the cheese tends to stick to the foil. I am all about maximum cheese, so I wait to add it. If you don’t want to do this extra-step, simply add the remaining cheese to the top of your lasagna, cover with foil and bake as directed, removing the foil with 25 minutes remaining to allow the cheeses to brown).
An Original JBean Cuisine Recipe