Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 70 minutes
Yield: Serves or Makes 4-6 servings
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
In a dutch oven or large skillet, over medium heat, add 1 tbsp of olive oil and 1 tbsp of minced garlic. Sauté for 1 minute until fragrant then add in chopped spinach. Sauté until spinach begins to wilt, about 4 minutes. Remove with a spoon and set aside in a bowl.
In the same dutch oven, turn heat up to medium/high, add 2 tbsp of olive oil and the diced pancetta. Cook until it begins to crisp up about 4 minutes. Add in the ground beef, 1 tsp of kosher salt, 1/2 tsp of black pepper and cook until beef is browned and cooked through. Reserve 2 tbsp of the juice, drain the beef and set aside in a bowl. Mix in the 1/2 cup of basil into the spinach mixture.
In the same dutch oven over medium heat, add 2 tbsp of olive oil and the chopped onions. Sauté for about 4-5 minutes until they begin to soften. Add the rest of the minced garlic, 2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, and sauté for a minute. Add in the can of fire roasted tomatoes, 2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, 1 tsp kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, 1 tsp oregano. Mix all together, lower the heat and cover, to allow the flavors to meld while you make the bechamel sauce.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 5 tbsp of butter. Once fully melted, slowly whisk in the flour constantly stirring so no lumps remain. Slowly add the milk while whisking continuously and grate some fresh nutmeg into the sauce. Allow the sauce to thicken for 10 minutes, stirring frequently so the sauce doesn’t burn. Taking a wooden spoon dip it in the sauce, run your finger on the spoon (careful it’s hot) and if the sauce doesn’t run together, then it’s ready.
Going back to the red sauce, using an immersion blender, smooth out the sauce. Taste and adjust salt if necessary. Add in the bechamel sauce and stir to combine, it should now be a pink color. Turn heat off.
In a small bowl, whisk 2 eggs and then add the ricotta cheese and mix until combined, set aside
In a rectangular baking dish, spoon a thick even layer of the tomato bechamel sauce onto the bottom of the dish (1/3 of the sauce). Then add a layer of lasagna sheets side by side. Using a spatula smooth half of the ricotta mixture over the pasta, followed by half of the spinach mixture. Add another layer of pasta, followed by the beef, and then 1/2 of the mozzarella cheese. Spoon another layer (1/3) of the tomato bechamel sauce, followed by another layer of pasta sheets. Smooth the rest of the ricotta over the pasta sheets and add the rest of the spinach over that. Add the final layer of pasta sheets, followed by the tomato bechamel, the rest of the mozzarella, and freshly grate parmesan over the top. I like to take a few pieces of butter and disperse them over the top so it gives you that golden brown top.
Cover with foil and place in the oven. If your lasagna is full to the brim, you can grab a baking sheet, cover with foil, and place the dish on top of that for any spillover. Bake for 35 minutes, then remove foil and low broil for 10 minutes until the cheese is brown and bubbly. Garnish with fresh basil and serve with a spatula.