This Spinach and Basil Pesto White Lasagna is flavor-filled lasagna with fresh pesto and layers of sausage and creamy spinach béchamel sauce.
I was having a conversation with a friend the other day and we were talking about lasagna. I realized that I have never posted a lasagna recipe! Can you believe that? After a decade of posting recipes, I had somehow never tackled a lasagna. I decided now was the time to change that! Especially after I received some beautiful baking dishes for Christmas, I knew they were just dying to be the vessels for a lovely lasagna. Of course, I had to make it my own and decided to make a basil version with a creamy béchamel sauce laden with lots of spinach.
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Spinach and Basil Pesto White Lasagna
We are big basil pesto fans in this house. It just adds so much flavor to any dish! Don’t get me wrong, I still love a good meaty red sauce but I love how many veggies I can easily add to a basil pesto dish and no one will ever know. I don’t why I am partial to a cozy green sauce but I am. So I decided that a green lasagna would be perfect to round out this last bit of winter we are having. Because it’s lasagna it’s comfort food but the basil and spinach make it seem almost ready for spring.
Quick Basil Lasagna
This lasagna doesn’t need hours to prep and cook. I use no boil noodles and a quick blender pesto to save time. Browning the sausage only takes a few minutes then be sure and make the béchamel sauce in the same pan. This will add some extra flavor to the sauce without any extra effort or extra dishes. Gotta love that! I use whole milk ricotta for a decadent creamy, cheesy layer mixed with the sausage.
I love the flavor of the Fontina cheese in this lasagna but you can definitely substitute mozzarella if you prefer. If you don’t want to do spinach, you can substitute kale. Just be sure to finely chop it and cook an extra minute or two in the sauce to let it soften.
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Spinach and Basil Pesto White Lasagna
- 1 12in by 12in baking dish can use a 9in x 13in
- non-stick cooking spray
- 1 lb ground hot Italian sausage
- 1/2 lb no boil lasagna egg noodles
- 8 oz ricotta
- 9 oz fontina grated, can sub mozzarella
- 4 oz fresh basil
- 4 cloves garlic pressed or minced
- 1 lemon zest and juice
- 1 tsp kosher salt reduce by half if using table salt
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp All Purpose Flour
- 2 cloves garlic minced or pressed
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt reduce by half if using table salt
- 1/8 tsp black pepper
- 3 cups baby spinach finely chopped
- Preheat oven to 350°F and spray a 12in by 12in baking dish with non-stick spray. Then brown sausage. Remove sausage from pan, leaving bits. In a separate bowl, mix browned sausage with ricotta and set aside.
- Next make Basil Pesto by combining basil, garlic, lemon juice and zest, salt and olive oil in a blender or food processor until smooth. Set aside.
- Make the Béchamel Sauce by melting butter over medium heat in same pan that sausage was browned in. Add garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30-60 seconds. Then add flour, parsley, oregano, red pepper, black pepper and salt and stir until paste forms. Then add milk, 1/4 of a cup at time, whisking and incorporating so there are no lumps. Then stir in chopped spinach until just wilted, 1 minute more. Remove from heat.
- Make the lasagna by smearing a small amount of béchamel sauce on the bottom of the baking dish, then layer noodles, ricotta and sausage mixture, basil pesto, béchamel sauce and dividing half the grated fontina into the layer. Save the other half for top. Repeat until finished, pouring any additional béchamel sauce over top layer. Then top with remaining grated fontina. Cover (spray under side of cover with non-stick spray) and bake for 30 minutes. Remove cover and bake for an additional 3-5 minutes until top is slightly brown and bubbling.