Beef ragù and spinach lasagne

Beef ragù and spinach lasagne

Leiths How to Cook
Peter Cassidy


Quantity Ingredient
1/4 bunch basil
1 quantity Ragù sauce for pasta, made with bacon and red wine
500g spinach
2 tablespoons olive oil
pinch grated nutmeg
600ml bechamel sauce
1/2 quantity Fresh pasta, cut into lasagne sheets
or 9 sheets dried lasagne
1 ball mozzarella, about 125 g
60g parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs
freshly ground black pepper


  1. Tear enough basil leaves to give you about 2 tablespoons, then add these to the ragù.
  2. Tear out all the coarse stalks and stems from the spinach. Wash in several changes of water until completely free of grit. Heat a large, heavy-based saucepan (that has a lid) until very hot. Add enough of the spinach to loosely fill the pan, then cover with the lid. You may need to do this in batches as the spinach will not wilt properly if there is too much in the pan. Stir every 30 seconds or so until all the spinach has completely wilted. Drain in a sieve, pressing with a spoon to squeeze out as much liquid as possible, then roughly chop.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the spinach and sauté quickly with a little nutmeg, salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
  4. Heat the oven to 190°C. Have the béchamel sauce ready.
  5. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Have a bowl of cold water ready, and a tray lined with a clean tea towel. Once the water reaches a rolling boil, salt generously, add the pasta sheets and cook for 2 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon and plunge into the cold water to stop them cooking, before transferring to the lined tray to cool.
  6. Cut the mozzarella into cubes and stir into the cooled spinach.
  7. Spread 2–3 tablespoons of the ragù sauce over the bottom of an ovenproof dish, about 27 x 18 cm and 5 cm deep. Add a layer of lasagne sheets, then one-third of the remaining ragù, one-quarter of the béchamel sauce, a layer of lasagne, half the remaining ragù and another quarter of the béchamel. Spread all the spinach out to create the next layer, then add a layer of lasagne, the remaining ragù, half the remaining béchamel, a layer of lasagne and finally the remaining béchamel.
  8. Grate the Parmesan, mix with the breadcrumbs and sprinkle over the top of the lasagne. Bake in the oven for 25–30 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbling.


  • This dish can be assembled up to a day ahead and refrigerated. Increase the baking time to 40–45 minutes if it is fridge-cold when it goes into the oven.


  • Tomato and spinach lasagne: Replace the ragù sauce with 1 quantity salsa pizzaiola. Increase the spinach quantity to 1.25 kg and use 3 tablespoons olive oil; cook as above. Stir in 100 g crumbled ricotta and 75 g toasted pine nuts along with the mozzarella. Layer and cook as for the main recipe, sprinkling with the Parmesan crumbs.

    Caramelised onion and aubergine lasagne: Caramelise 4 large sliced onions, 6 sliced shallots and 2 sliced red onions in 4 tablespoons olive oil. Add 100 ml well-flavoured chicken and veal stock or vegetable stock and simmer for 2 minutes. Cut 2 aubergines lengthways into 7 mm-thick slices and fry over a medium heat in 2–3 tablespoons of olive oil per batch, until golden and no longer spongy. Use 600 ml Mornay sauce made with Gruyère in place of the béchamel. Layer up the onions, aubergines, pasta and Mornay sauce, sprinkle with the Parmesan crumbs and cook as for the main recipe.

A note on dried lasagne sheets…

  • Dried lasagne usually needs to be cooked in boiling salted water and drained before layering, unless it is the sort that can be used without pre-cooking. In this instance, make sure the sauces are a little thinner as the dry sheets will absorb more liquid.
Leiths School of food and wine
cookery course
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