Spinach Lasagna

Doncha just love the Internet? Where else can you find so many useful “true facts” about anything you desire, including your favorite foods? Like this gem about spinach:

Who knew? Little-known facts: spinach also gives you increased resistance to awkward conversations at parties, superior hopping ability at Q-Bert (arcade version only) and temporary bioluminescence. I swear it’s true; I read it on the Internet.

The obsession over connecting individual foods with highly specific health benefits can get a little excessive–especially when the marketing touts a benefit that’s totally obvious and/or off-topic. Milk with a gluten-free sticker affixed. “Apples: a naturally fat-free food!” “Cheerios: may help lower cholesterol.” (Um, since cholesterol only occurs in animal products, doesn’t any non-animal product food lower your cholesterol?) I might as well walk around wearing a sign that reads “Will not give you a skunk as a pet.” I won’t, but that’s sort of irrelevant to who I am as a person.

Incidentally, the typical association most of us have with spinach–that it’s high in iron–actually stems (pun intended) from a recording error German chemist Erich von Wolf made when analyzing the vegetable’s nutrition content. Von Wolf misplaced a decimal point, accidentally recording that spinach contained 35 milligrams of iron per serving, rather than 3.5. The error went unchecked and persisted to such a degree that amidst the creation of the super-strong cartoon character Popeye the Sailor Man, studio executives suggested he should have a propensity for spinach. The rest is history: the myth of the elevated iron content of spinach persists to this day.

In reality, of course certain foods benefit particular aspects of health, and it’s not wrong to eat them with this in mind. Spinach, while not the world’s iron panacea, does contain a respectable 21% of your recommended daily iron intake in a 100 gram serving. More impressively, it’s an excellent source of Vitamin A, folate, Vitamin K, and manganese. Still, from my point of view, for most people seeking merely to eat a balanced diet, an overly fussy fixation on which foods supply which nutrients is unnecessary. Eat (healthily), drink (healthily), and be merry (healthily)… And if you happen to want to eat spinach (which you should because it’s good for you in general), why not try this delicious spinach lasagna? I’ve made it numerous times for dinner guests and plates are consistently cleaned. Though, to my knowledge, no one has gone on to breathe underwater.

Spinach Lasagna
(Slightly adapted from Allrecipes.com)

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 10-oz. packages frozen chopped spinach
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried basil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
32 oz. spaghetti sauce
1 1/2 c. water
2 c. cottage cheese
8 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. dried parsley
1 scant tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1 egg
8 oz. lasagna noodles, uncooked

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large pot over medium heat, saut├ę spinach, onion, oregano, basil, and garlic in the olive oil until spinach is completely thawed. Pour in spaghetti sauce and water; simmer 20 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix cottage cheese, mozzarella, Parmesan, parsley, salt, pepper, and egg.

3. In a 9 x 13 glass dish, layer as follows from bottom to top:

Sauce (bottom)
Noodles
Sauce
Noodles
Cheese Mixture
Sauce
Noodles
Cheese Mixture
Sauce
Noodles
Sauce (top)

(or some variation thereof that uses all your sauce and cheese mixture)

4. Cover with foil and bake in the preheated oven for 55 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake another 15 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

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