If you’re hankering for lasagna but don’t want all the work, here is a recipe that’s a great shortcut; nothing has to be precooked, just throw it all together in the oven and bake.
I was thinking about spanakopita, one of my favorite vegetarian Greek dishes, made with layers of spinach, feta, onions and flaky filo dough basted with butter.
It occurred to me to try making spanakopita with the no-cook lasagna noodles now in stores from companies like Barilla. Then add layers of roasted red pepper and the red pepper juice from the bottle, fire-roasted tomatoes, goat cheese, thawed and squeezed chopped spinach, plus a little cinnamon, salt and pepper for moisture.
That red pepper juice in the jar is really delicious, I just had never figured out how to use it!
I am happy to report all of this worked. There was just enough moisture in the baking dish to make the noodles soft like traditional Italian lasagna. The colorful stack looked more like a torta with a Greek flavor twist. You will need a relatively small baking dish for this recipe – mine is 11×7 purchased at Ikea – but a more standard sized 9×13 Pyrex glass baking dish, either square 9×9 or rectangular, should work too. You may need to add a little more goat cheese, roasted red pepper, and a second can of fire-roasted tomatoes if your dish size uses all the noodles in the box.
Red Pepper-Spinach-Feta Lasagna
1 16 oz. jar roasted red peppers in their juice (I used Mezzetta brand)
1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed with paper towels to remove most of the excess water
1 8-ounce package of goat cheese (more if your cooking dish is larger than mine)
1 16-ounce can fire-roasted tomatoes or chopped tomatoes in their juices
1 package no-boil lasagna noodles
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Salt and pepper
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top
Minced parsley for garnish
Chop goat cheese into smaller pieces, drain spinach, and open box of noodles.
Pour enough of the water from the jar of roasted red peppers to cover the bottom of the baking dish to about an eighth of an inch.
Make a layer of noodles, trying not to overlap them (no-boil noodles don’t soften up enough if they overlap) Use the broken pieces around the edge to fill in if necessary.
Put half of the goat cheese on that layer of noodles, top with half of the spinach. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and some of the cinnamon. Put a layer of roasted red peppers on top of that.
Make a second layer, top with the rest of the goat cheese, spinach, salt and pepper, cinnamon and roasted red peppers.
Top with one last layer of noodles. Pour the entire can of fire-roasted tomatoes on top so they cover the surface and a lot of the tomatoes slide down the inside edges of the casserole to fill up space. You may need to open a second can and add a little more from that if you are using a larger baking dish.
Top with more salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese.
Cover with foil and bake in 350-degree F oven for 30 minutes. Lasagna should be bubbly with some liquid evident around the edges. A knife should go into the noodles cleanly with just a tiny amount of give. If the noodles are not totally ready, put on foil and give it another 10 minutes.
Uncover the casserole and allow to bake another 10-15 minutes until the top is drier and some of the liquid has boiled off.
Sprinkle with minced parsley.
Allow lasagna to sit for about a half hour to cool.
Slice into squares and serve. Makes a great cold breakfast in the morning too!