Sunday, February 06, 2011

Freeze-Ahead Lasagna Primavera...

Before Jeff had his surgery a few weeks ago, I tried to plan ahead and get some meals into the freezer. I figured I may not have the time, or energy, to get a decent dinner on the table after all was said and done. One of those happened to be this Freeze-Ahead Lasagna Primavera, which I was quite thankful for when we finally were ready to use it!

You'll need to make a white sauce for this lasagna, which begins with a base of heated olive oil, into which flour and garlic are whisked in. You don't need this mixture to attain any color, but you do want to give the flour enough time to cook out and remove any raw pastiness - two or three minutes, constantly whisking it around, would be sufficient. When you add the milk to create the sauce, try not to dump it in all at once - gradually pouring it in, while whisking, I find helps the flour and milk mixture mingle and marry a bit better. If you'd like to make this a bit lighter - try swapping out a couple cups of the milk with chicken or vegetable broth.

After the milk had time to thicken, the vegetable part that is added next in this dish makes life easy, using frozen spinach and peas, while still adding a lively freshness by calling for thinly sliced raw carrots. As that heats through, the cheese layer comes together by seasoning a scant two cups of ricotta with an egg, salt, fresh ground black pepper and just a pinch of fresh grated nutmeg.

Keeping with the not-too-fussy theme, we followed along with the recipe using no-boil lasagna noodles. I don't mind these at all and find them pretty convenient - I know some people don't like the end texture though. I'm sure you could use regular noodles in this to keep a more sturdy bite to the pasta, but you may need to either boil them first or soak them in hot water - I don't think this may be saucy enough to add them raw like the no-boil noodles.

Layered like any other lasagna with all the sauce, noodles and ricotta, you'll also be slipping shredded mozzarella and grated Parmesan into some of them, along with a smattering on top. After being assembled, all you do to this is cover the top well (plastic wrap, then foil - no spills!) and set the pan in the freezer to chill out. We baked this from frozen and it took just over an hour and a half, covered, plus another 30 minutes or so, uncovered to add some color on top and finishing heating through.

What did we think? We were quite surprised with just how well it held up after being frozen and baked! The vegetables were not over done or mushy, and in fact, the carrots still had a welcomed firmness (without being crunchy). Giving it a solid fifteen minute rest after pulling it from the oven, the lasagna was still plenty warm, yet we were able to pull out clean, well-preserved slices that didn't collapse as each rectangle hit the plate - score! The trio of cheeses also fit in well, lending enough of a wallop without casting a shadow over the sweet peas, carrots and spinach.

If you have any fear of baking from frozen (like your favorite dish cracking or shattering), use a metal or one-time use foil baking pan. You could also line your baking dish completely with foil, assemble and freeze, then lift out the frozen solid lasagna, wrap the icy block well. When you are ready, peel off the foil, drop it back into the same pan and bake from there. Oh, and if you are wondering, do you have to freeze this first? Absolutely not - if you 'd like to make it right after assembly, toss the dish in the oven for 45 minutes, covered, then uncover and bake until the sauce begins to bubble around the edges and the top has browned - about 20 extra minutes.


  1. I made several pans of this before my second son was freezes beautifully! And we liked the flavor so much that we've made it a few times since.

  2. This looks absolutely delish! A great 'transition' dish from winter to spring i would think: hearty for those still cold nights but yet with lots of summer veggies.


  3. This is great! Lasagne is my favorite dish, but I learned recently that my body doesn't tolerate tomatoes. So this is a great replacement. Thanks!

  4. Stephanie - I'm with you... I know we will be making this a few times!

    Kristin - That what Jeff said too!

    Donna - Reflux?

  5. this looks so yummy! anything that can be made ahead is always aces. thanks for sharing! love it :)

  6. Looks perfect Joe! I will be trying this as it is always good to have something ready and healthy in the freezer on nights we don't have time to cook!

  7. Ana - Exactly! I plan on making another batch soon just to keep in the freezer.