Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Spinach Lasagna

What a weekend! KK and I had a low-key Friday night to ensure I was well rested for my friend's bachelorette party in New Orleans! I cooked up this spinach lasagna and we enjoyed it with a bottle of Pindar's Pythagoras from our NJ wine tour in April.  I'm thankful that we had a relaxing Friday night because the rest of the weekend was action packed.  It was such a great weekend that I had to take Monday off from work! Just kidding - our flight back from New Orleans was Monday morning, and I smartly took the rest of the day off from work (in advance) to catch up on much needed sleep!

We arrived in New Orleans on Saturday morning, and settled into our apartments.  If you're ever in NoLa with a large group, I highly recommend this apartment, and I will definitely stay there if I'm ever in town again.  From there, we headed over to Mother's Restaurant for po' boys and were not disappointed.  After a pit stop for mani/pedis, we headed to Bourbon Street and did a little bar hopping to experience the daytime scene.  We enjoyed Cajun for dinner at Muriel's Jackson Square, and then headed back to Bourbon Street.  The bars had been somewhat crowded during the day, but the streets were overflowing with people in the late evening and early morning hours.  The scene was so chaotic... I can only imagine what it's like during Mardi Gras!! Our favorite stop of the night was at the Cat's Meow where our bride-to-be wowed the crowd with her karaoke skills!

On Sunday, we brunched in the courtyard of Cafe Amelie.  After brunch, we enjoyed the outdoor patio at the Original French Market Restaurant, ventured into the French Market to enjoy the Creole Tomato Festival, and of course had beignets at Cafe du Monde.  We sipped our cafe au laits and strolled along the Moonwalk, enjoying the lovely views of the Mississippi River.  Although I'd never been to New Orleans, you can tell that the city's come a long way since the destruction of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  For dinner, we lucked out with a private dining room and the best dedicated waiter a group of 12 girls could ask for (Clayton) at Maximo's Italian Grill.  We stumbled across a great jazz band at The Maison, took a quick peek into one of Frenchman Street's best-kept secrets (The Apple Barrel), and finished the night at Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop -  built sometime before 1772, it's the oldest continually occupied bar in the United States and one of the more haunted bars in the French Quarter.

Monday morning came too soon, and we were all sad to leave NoLa after such an incredible weekend! I hope to visit the Big Easy again; it is such a vibrant place, full of culture, mystery, and amazing food!

Spinach Lasagna
Adapted from Serious Eats
Time: 1 hour
Serves 6-8

9 dried lasagna noodles
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
10 oz. frozen spinach, thawed and drained
15 oz. part-skim ricotta
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
2 eggs
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon sage
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
24 oz. jar pasta sauce

1. Cook lasagna noodles until al dente.  Drain and rinse with cold water.  Set aside.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

3. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute chopped onion until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

4. In a large bowl, combine drained spinach, ricotta, mozzarella, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, eggs, spices, and cooked onions; stir to combine.

5.  Coat the bottom of a 9x13 glass baking dish with 1/2 cup pasta sauce, and place 3 lasagna noodles on top of the sauce.  Spread half the ricotta mixture evenly on noodles, and cover with 1 cup pasta sauce.  Repeat layering with 3 more noodles, remaining ricotta mixture, and 1 cup pasta sauce.  Top with final 3 noodles, remaining pasta sauce, and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.

6. Cover pan with tin foil and bake 20 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking for 10 minutes.  Remove lasagna from oven and let cool 10 minutes before serving.

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