Culinary team member Jeanette Donnarumma shares her festive recipe for feeding a crowd during the holidays: lasagna layered with pesto, sausage, cheese, spinach + bechamel.
This is a great make-ahead dish, too, because you can freeze the lasagna after it's assembled. First, allow it to cool completely at room temperature, then wrap it airtight with plastic wrap and aluminum foil. It will keep in the freezer for about two months.
To cook the frozen lasagna, remove the plastic, then tightly cover with foil. Place on a large baking sheet and bake at 375°F for 2 hours, then remove the foil and bake until browned on top, 15 to 20 minutes more.
- 1 head garlic
- 2 tablespoons plus ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- ¾ cup pistachios, toasted
- 2 packed cups basil leaves
- 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 5 cups milk
- Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
- 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 2 cups ricotta
- 1 egg
- 2 cups pesto (homemade or store-bought)
- 16 no-boil lasagna noodles (about half of a 16-ounce box)
- 4 cups shredded mozzarella
- One 16-ounce bag frozen chopped spinach, thawed and wrung out
- 1 pound loose hot or sweet Italian sausage, browned and drained
- ¼ cup flat-leaf parsley, stemmed and chopped, for garnish
For the pesto (if making), preheat the oven to 425°F.
Cut off the top of the head of garlic and place on a piece of foil. Drizzle the 2 tablespoons olive oil over the exposed cloves and season with salt and pepper. Wrap tightly and roast until brown and caramelized, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool.
When the garlic is ready, lightly pulse the pistachios in a food processor. Squeeze in the roasted garlic cloves, add the basil and Parmigiano-Reggiano and season with salt and pepper, then process while slowly adding the ½ cup olive oil until smooth. Transfer to a medium mixing bowl and reserve. Makes 2 cups.
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
For the bechamel, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until it begins to smell nutty and fragrant, about 1 minute. Slowly stream in the milk while whisking so that no lumps form and the mixture remains smooth. Season with nutmeg. Once the bechamel sauce comes to a low bubble, continue to cook and let thicken for 5 to 6 minutes, whisking often. Remove from heat, whisk in the Parmigiano-Reggiano and reserve.
For the ricotta mixture, add the ricotta and egg to the bowl of pesto and stir to combine. Reserve.
To assemble the lasagna, evenly spread 1 cup of the bechamel sauce in the bottom of a 13-by-9-inch pan (I prefer a disposable aluminum pan for easy clean up!). Top with 4 lasagna noodles, 1/3 of the ricotta mixture, 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese, 1/3 of the spinach, 1/3 of the cooked sausage and 1 cup of the bechamel. Repeat, starting with 4 lasagna noodles and ending with 1 cup of the bechamel.
To finish, top with 4 lasagna noodles, the remaining ricotta mixture, 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese, the remaining spinach, remaining sausage and remaining 4 lasagna noodles. Top the noodles with the remaining bechamel and mozzarella cheese.
Tightly cover the lasagna in aluminum foil and place on a large baking sheet. Bake until hot in the middle, 55 to 60 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until bubbly and browned on top, 15 to 20 minutes more.
Allow lasagna to set for 15 minutes before cutting into it. Garnish with parsley and serve.