Doesn’t that just warm your heart on these cold winter days? Hot, cheesy and wonderful, a classic lasagna with homemade meatballs and sauce and a creamy layer of Béchamel underneath to make it extra wonderful. Don’t be scared by Béchamel sauce. It’s a super easy and classic white sauce with a little nutmeg added in. It adds a wonderful richness to the lasagna that takes a classic comfort food to a whole new level. Once you try it, you may never go back!
You’ll spoon the Bechamel in the bottom of the dish and then cover it with your first layer of cooked lasagna noodles.
Now start layering. The ricotta-spinach mixture first, some sauce, some sliced meatballs and another layer of noodles. Repeat.
Here’s what the meatballs look like when they’ve been added. I had 14 meatballs and I cut them in thirds.
When all your layers are done, sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. High and mighty!
Lasagna with Meatballs, Spinach and Béchamel
For the Béchamel Sauce
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1 1/4 cups whole milk
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- Pinch of ground nutmeg
- 1 (15 ounce) container of whole milk ricotta cheese
- 1 (10 ounce) box frozen organic chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups freshly grated mozzarella
- 12 dried lasagna noodles
- 4 cups tomato sauce
- 1 batch meatballs, cut in half or thirds or
- 8-10 links of Italian sausage, cooked and cut in half
- Make your Béchamel sauce. Start by melting the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat.
- Add the flour and cook about 3 minutes, whisking continuously.
- Whisk in the milk and increase the heat to medium-high. Whisk the sauce until it begins to simmer and becomes thick and smooth, about 3 minutes.
- Whisk in the salt, pepper and nutmeg. Set aside.
- In a bowl, mix together the ricotta, spinach, 1 cup of the Parmesan cheese, the egg, and the salt and pepper.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook the lasagna noodles until just tender but still firm to the bite. Stir frequently so the noodles don’t stick together.
- Drain the noodles and arrange them on a baking sheet to keep them from sticking.
- Preheat the oven to 450. Butter a 13 x 9 x 2 inch glass baking dish. Spread the Béchamel all over it.
- Layer 4 lasagna noodles over the sauce. Spread 1/2 of the ricotta mixture over the noodles. Top that with 1/3 of your tomato sauce and 1/2 of the sliced meatballs and/or sausage.
- Repeat. You should end with noodles and then the last bit of sauce. Top that with the mozzarella cheese and the remaining parmesan. Cover dish tightly with well-buttered foil so it doesn’t stick to the cheese.
- Bake about 40 minutes. Take off the foil and bake another 15 minutes or until the cheese on top is golden and the lasagna is bubbling. Let stand 10 minutes. Serve.
- Cottage cheese is NOT ricotta. It isn’t the same. You can use it if you must but don’t tell my husband. He’ll hyperventilate. I’m serious!
- If you don’t eat meat, just leave out the meatballs and sausage. It’s delicious even without the meat.
- What makes this lasagna extra special is those homemade meatballs that have been cooked in the sauce. I double the recipe when I make meatballs so I have plenty left to make lasagna.
- If you’re pressed for time, you can use store bought sauce. If I use store bought, I only use Rao’s.
- This freezes well. Make ahead and wrap in a double layer of foil to freeze.
- For a lighter lasagna, omit the meatballs and sausage and add 3 ounces of sliced and chopped prosciutto to the ricotta and spinach mixture.