In the whole madness of moving into a new house and doing all the interior painting on my own, I couldn’t just throw all holiday observances out the window after all. This week, the festival of Shavuot (or Pentecost in Greek) gave me an opportunity to try out a new recipe.
After counting 7 weeks (shavuot = weeks in Hebrew) from Passover to the traditional harvest time, it is customary to thank G-d for all the good things He blesses us with by, among other things, using the fresh, seasonal “green” produce and dairy products (remember the “land of milk and honey?”) in our holiday cooking for the observance of Chag Shavuot. This year, the winter lingered a bit too long in the Black Hills giving us three snow storms in the month of April. That definitely delayed the emergence of any “green” vegetables that would normally be around this time of year, and forced me to look at frozen vegetables for the holiday meal.
I found this wonderful recipe for lasagne verde (“green lasagna” in Italian) in Gloria Kaufer Green’s The Jewish Holiday Cookbook, and I had to try it. You don’t necessarily have to make it only on Shavuot. You can try it any time of the year. I am pretty sure you won’t regret it.
- 2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
- 1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 1/2 of a medium-sized sweet green pepper, diced (optional)
- 2 16-ounce cans tomatoes, including juice, chopped
- 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
- 1 to 2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
- 1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves (optional)
- 1 bay leaf, crumbled (optional)
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, preferably freshly ground
- Salt to taste
Pasta, cheeses, etc.
- 1 8-ounce package lasagna noodles (about 12)*
- 1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
- 1 15 to 16-ounce container part-skim or regular ricotta cheese
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, preferably freshly ground
- 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
- 8 ounces Mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 2 cups packed)
* If you have to remain gluten-free like I do, feel free to replace regular lasagna noodles with gluten-free ones.
For sauce, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; then, sauté the onion, garlic, and green pepper (if used) until tender but not browned. Stir in the remaining sauce ingredients, and mix until well combined. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer the sauce uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened slightly and the flavors have blended. Remove from heat and set aside. Meanwhile, cook the noodles according to package instructions, and drain them well. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the spinach, ricotta, egg, pepper, and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese. In a small bowl, mix together the remaining Parmesan cheese and Mozzarella. To assemble the lasagna, spoon about 3 tablespoons of the sauce into the bottom of a greased or non-stick spray coated 9″x13″ or equivalent baking dish. Cover it with one third of the noodles. Spread half of the ricotta-spinach mixture over the noodles; then, top with one third of the mixed grated cheeses and one third of the remaining sauce. Beginning with noodles, make a second layer in the same manner, using up the ricotta mixture. Top with the remaining noodles, cheese, and sauce. Bake the lasagna in a preheated 350-degree oven for 45 to 55 minutes, or until it is hot and bubbly and very lightly browned on top. Let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting. Cut it into large squares and serve.