wicked good (gluten-free) lasagna

I made lasagna today, possibly for the first time ever, and definitely the first time ever gluten-free. It was delicious. Not perfect, but delicious. The recipe is an adaptation of a few Alice Waters recipes, and it definitely took me about 3.5 hours, 4 if you count the clean-up…but was worth the time and effort. Totally worth it. Here’s the recipe, with notes at the end about what I’ll do differently next time.

Lynnae’s Red Pepper Spinach Lasagna
Adapted from Alice Waters, The Art of Simple Food
Serves 8

roasted red peppers
Roast 1-2 red pepper(s) in the oven for 45 minutes at 425 degrees. Turn once or twice while roasting, then peel, seed, and dice. This will go into the meat sauce, later.

meat sauce
1 c. finely diced onion
5 garlic cloves
1 lb. ground meat (I used half grass-fed beef, half lamb)
1 tsp each fresh basil and sage
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried marjoram
1 tsp dried chili flakes
1 Tbsp cocoa powder
2 Tbsp brown sugar
28 oz. can of tomato sauce
Roasted red peppers
Handful of fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper

Heat a medium-sized pot over medium heat. When hot, pour in 1-2 Tbsp olive oil. Sauté onion until translucent; add garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the meat; when brown, mix in the spices, cocoa powder, and brown sugar. Add tomato sauce (and red peppers if they’re done), then cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes. A few minutes before assembling the lasagna, stir in parsley.

gluten-free white sauce (béchamel)
3 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp tapioca starch
2 cups half and half, plus extra milk in case the sauce is too thick
Salt (about 1 tsp)
Pinch or 3 of nutmeg

Melt butter in a small pot. Stir in tapioca starch; cook over medium heat for 3 minutes. Bit by bit, add half and half, whisking constantly. You’ll want to add small amounts at a time, so you can avoid lumps. Tapioca starch is much stickier than white flour, so the texture will be stringy at first. By the end, you should have a smooth sauce – but it does take some serious whisking! Once the milk is added, turn down the heat to the lowest setting and keep warm until you’re ready to assemble the lasagna. Be sure to stir every few minutes – this sauce burns REALLY easily!

garlic spinach ricotta
1 bag (1/2 lb) spinach
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 pound (16 oz) ricotta cheese
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 to 1 tsp salt
1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Pinch of nutmeg (Alice calls for freshly grated; I just used the spice jar!)
More salt (to taste)

Cook spinach over 1 teaspoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Season with salt (I used ~2 teaspoons); add garlic just before the spinach is almost wilted, then cook for another 1-2 minutes. Set aside to cool, then form into a ball and squeeze out extra water/moisture. Chop finely and mix in a bowl with ricotta, olive oil, and salt. Mix in Parmesan and nutmeg (and salt, if desired). Set aside until ready to assemble.

lasagna noodles
2 lbs of your favorite gluten-free lasagna (I used Tinkyada Joy)

Prepare lasagna according to package directions. I did two batches and found that it fell apart pretty quickly. I’d also set a timer on it next time, and slightly undercook it; it was a little overcooked this time, and therefore a little bland/watery tasting once it came out of the oven.

(Note: Alice recommends fresh/homemade pasta. I’m not sure if I’ll ever find a good/workable homemade gluten-free pasta recipe, so I use the store-bought option for now. It turned out well!)

assembly instructions
You’ve made it! 🙂 Oil a 9×13 pan, and spread a few spoonfuls of the white sauce in the bottom. Start with a layer of pasta, and then add the following layers (with pasta in between each one):

  • Spinach ricotta cheese (1/3 of the mix)
  • Meat sauce
  • White sauce
  • Ricotta (1/3)
  • Meat
  • Ricotta + white sauce

Cover with a final layer of pasta, then cover with foil and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove foil and sprinkle with another 1/4-1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan. Return to oven and cook for another 10-15 minutes, until bubbling and golden brown. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve warm. Like this, perhaps! ==>

next time
Here are a few things I might do differently next time (and you could try!):

  • Add more salt/ground pepper to the the meat sauce (I used about a teaspoon of salt and 1 T of pepper)
  • Slightly undercook the gf pasta
  • Add more nutmeg (3-4 pinches) to the béchamel
  • Add 1/2 – 1 cup of dry red wine to the meat before adding all the spices (mmm…)

About LynnaeEtta

I'm an Usborne Books & More Independent Consultant who loves reading, exploring nature and the city with my kids, cooking, photography, and spending time with family and friends.

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