English King Richard II Was Served Lasagna in 1390
Florentine or Spinach Lasagna is a well known vegetarian dish, although you don't have to be a vegetarian to enjoy it. While there are numerous recipes for Florentine Lasagna on the web, I have always liked this one because it is quick and easy to make and, when my children were younger, it was an easy way to get them to eat spinach.
Lasagna itself has been in the news lately. It seems that a couple of years ago some researchers studying an old cookbook in the British Museum in London came across arecipe for a dish called loyseyns whose name was not only similar to lasagna but the dish itself was very much like lasagna. The cookbook described the dish as being prepared for the English King Richard II in 1390. When it was announced that Lasagna, one of the most popular dishes in the world, was invented by the British, the Italian Embassy in London promptly issued a denial and Italian historians began scouring libraries and museums in Italy seeking a pre-1390 reference to lasagna in an Italian cookbook.
Regardless of who invented it, I think any type of lasagna is great and here is a quick and easy recipe for it. This dish is easy to prepare and is also a good dish to make up ahead of time, freeze and then bake when needed.
½ cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
2 26-ounce jars/cans of spaghetti sauce (plain or other. NOTE: classic Florentine Lasagna is usually made with a white sauce but, rather than making a sauce, I find it easier and just as good, to use a commercial tomato sauce)
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ package (8 oz) Lasagna
1 16-ounce container (2 cups) ricotta cheese
1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, and well drained
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
12 ounces sliced mozzarella cheese
Heat oven to 350 F. In 10-inch skillet sauté onion and garlic in butter. Stir in spaghetti sauce and pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 155 minutes. Cook lasagna as package directs, then drain. Combine ricotta cheese, spinach, Parmesan cheese and nutmeg; mix well. in 13x9-inch baking dish, layer sauce, lasagna, ricotta mixture and mozzarella cheese; repeat layers, ending with sauce. Bake, uncovered, 35 minutes or until top starts to bubble. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.
This is an easy dish to prepare in advance and store.
If you wish to prepare it to serve the next day simply cover the unbaked lasagna and store it in the refrigerator overnight. The next day remove cover and bake in 350 F oven for 35 minutes or until top starts to bubble.
If you wish to freeze it for later use simply cover uncooked lasagna and store, frozen, in the freezer for up to 2 months. When ready to cook let thaw to refrigerator temperature; then uncover and bake in un-preheated oven at 350 F for 35 to 50 minutes or until cooked all the way through and bubbling on top.
Always store leftover cooked lasagna in the refrigerator.