I have been on a huge lemon kick lately...perhaps it is my way of trying to hold on to the taste of summer as we are fast approaching the colder months. I absolutely adore the aroma and taste that bright, acidic lemon juice and zest impart to just about any dish.
This lemon ricotta lasagna is a nice variation on the typical spinach ricotta lasagna I usually make, and it is a definite knock-out! In the spring, layering in some tender baby asparagus or artichokes would just make this lasagna perfect.
Please use the best and freshest ingredients you can find, i.e. noodles, ricotta, mozzarella. There are not a lot of ingredients here, so each component should shine.
Have fun playing with this recipe, but do me a favor? Don’t leave out the lemon!
Lemon Ricotta Lasagna
(adapted from a recipe found in House Beautiful)
1 pound of lasagna noodles*
2 Tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 28-ounce jars of tomato puree
1 teaspoon sea salt
A small bunch of basil leaves
22 ounces ricotta cheese
Zest and juice from 1 organic lemon
¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano cheese
Freshly grated nutmeg
16 ounces grated mozzarella cheese mixed with 1/4 cup freshly
grated Parmigiano cheese
*If using fresh pasta sheets, you will need to boil them first in salted water; drain on cotton dishcloths until ready to use, covering with additional cotton dishcloths. If using no-boil noodles, allow them to soak in water for about 30 minutes before using; drain on cotton dishcloths until ready to use, covering with additional cotton dishcloths.
Pour olive oil into a saucepan set over medium-high heat. Once hot, sauté garlic briefly until fragrant, add tomato puree, a few whole basil leaves and salt. Allow to just come to a boil, lower heat and simmer 30 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. (You may not use all of the sauce for the lasagna, set aside the leftover and either freeze, or use within a few days.)
To make the filling: add ricotta, lemon zest and juice, Parmigiano and about 10 leaves of basil to food processor; process just until smooth. Scrape into bowl, sprinkle some freshly ground nutmeg over top and stir in. Store covered in refrigerator until ready to use.
To assemble: you will want to figure out how many layers of noodles you will fit in your lasagna pan/ casserole dish and divide up the filling, sauce and mozzarella accordingly. Make sure to set aside a few handfuls of mozzarella to sprinkle on top. This is the order that you will use, spread a small amount of tomato sauce on the bottom lasagna pan/casserole dish. Add a layer of lasagna noodles to cover the bottom. Spread with some of the ricotta filling, more sauce and some of the
grated mozzarella. Repeat layering remaining noodles, filling, sauce and cheese, until you are left with a final layer of noodles. Top final layer of noodles with enough sauce to cover and spread mozzarella over all. Chop/tear up remaining basil leaves and sprinkle over top. Let lasagna sit while oven preheats to 375 degrees.
Bake for 30 minutes, covered with parchment paper and foil. Uncover, and allow to bake an additional 15-20 minutes until bubbly and beginning to brown. Remove from oven, and let rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting into pieces.