Ok so this is not a weeknight lasagna by any stretch of the imagination, unless you are unemployed. (In which case, every night is a weekend. WOOO! Actually, folks, it's not that fun.) I would call this is more of a Martha Lasagna in that it takes 400 years to make, but has a big payoff--creamy, starchy goodness with some veggies thrown in for "health."
To make it I used this Betty Crocker recipe for inspiration. I just love old recipe books with splashes of sauce on them.
For help with the arrangement and sauce I used this recipe from the Cook's Illustrated website. You need to pay to access most of their recipes, but, honestly, I find that site so infuriating that it's not even worth it unless you can get one through dubious means. Which is, of course, what I did.
My problems with that site are many, but what bothers me most is that: number one: the design is like something out of a children's stencil book with a word document tacked on. Number two: there's no way to search recipes in order of date, and their catalog goes back so far that the first hit for spinach lasagna was one that called for Velveeta. VEL-frickin'-VEETA. Ok, Cook's is a little low-brow on purpose, but I can only assume that they haven't included a recipe with Velveeta in at least 15 years. Have they? :(
Anyway, the lasagna I made was loosely based on these two. I didn't use as much mozzarella as the Cook's recipe called for, mainly because I was tired. However, I'm glad I did skimp on it, because if there were any more dairy in the recipe it would be a recipe for making a cow.
I only used one can of artichokes, and I might consider using more if I made it again, especially because the acidity in them would cut some of the richness of the bechamel and 4 pounds of cheese. And yes, I know, canned artichokes are not fresh and whatever, but I have TRIED to use fresh artichokes in the past and it has never, EVER, been edible--even when I followed a six-part diagram of how to cut them. So there.
This baked up all poufy like a souffle, which was, admittedly, mildly scary, but very pretty. Maybe too much egg? Eh. Whatever.
Spinach and Artichoke Bechamel Lasagna
6 cups milk 1 cup butter 1 cup flour 1/8th tsp nutmeg 1 tsp salt 1 tsp pepper
1/4 c.vegetable oil 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 1/2 cup onion 1 1/2 lb. fresh spinach 1 or 2 cans of artichokes, drained and chopped 3/4 cup parsley 1 lb. ricotta cheese 2 eggs 1 1/2 c. grated Parmesan 1 c. grated mozzarella (it helps if you stick it in the freezer for a bit) 1 package lasagna noodles
For the sauce:
Heat milk until hot but not boiling. In another pan, melt butter and gradually whisk is flour. Cook 3 to 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Add milk slowly, whisking all the while. Stir until incorporated and sauce is thickened. Flavor to taste with nutmeg, salt and pepper.
Put a large pan on to boil and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Saute garlic and onions until transparent, add spinach by the bunches with 1/2 c. parsley in the last addition. Allow to wilt and add artichokes. Heat through and set aside.
Mix rest of parsley and ricotta with eggs and half of Parmesan. Blanch lasagna noodles, about 2 minutes. Oil a large pan and layer the ingredients in this order: 1/2 to 2 cups Bechamel, then cover the pan with noodles (I used about 5), 1/2 of spinach and artichoke mixture, and all of mozzarella. Next, 1 1/2 to 2 cups of Bechamel, another layer of noodles, all the ricotta mixture and then the rest of the spinach and artichokes. Last, another 1 1/2 to 2 cups Bechamel, noodles, and then another layer of sauce. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan.
Bake covered for 45 minutes. Uncover for the remaining 10 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.