Lasagna Bianca – White Lasagna with Spinach & Matzo crackers

I will admit, a lasagna made with matzo crackers had me a little skeptical but I was proved wrong. It turned out great. Substituting the lasagna noodles with matzo crackers gives it a similar texture and a little different flavor, but in a good way.

Our lasagna bianca just after we pulled it out of the oven.
Our lasagna bianca just after we pulled it out of the oven.

Ingredients

the spinach sauce

  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups of whole milk
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 cups frozen spinach, chopped or 1 can of spinach, chopped

The White Sauce

  • 1 container ricotta cheese (32 oz)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg, ground
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Everything Else

  • Matzo crackers, lightly salted
  • 1 lb ground hot Italian sausage
  • 1 tablespoon of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup whole milk

Instructions

Preheat your oven to 350 F.

Make the spinach sauce:

  1. In a large pot, combine the butter and olive oil on medium heat until melted. Add the chopped onions and garlic and sauté until they are translucent and fragrant.
  2. Add the flour and whisk until it is all incorporated. Cook this mixture on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Stir this béchamel mixture frequently.
  3. Add the 2 1/2 cups of whole milk and whisk until combined. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently until the mixture has thickened.
  4. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and spinach into the white sauce. Heat this on low. If you are using frozen spinach, heat until the spinach is warm and fully defrosted. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Allow to cool before assembling the lasagna.

Make the white sauce

  1. In a separate bowl, add the ricotta cheese, egg, nutmeg, and salt and pepper. Whisk this together.

Brown the hot Italian sausage

  1. If you have sausage links, remove the casings.
  2. Heat a pan over medium heat. Once hot, put the sausage in the pan.
  3. Break the sausage apart with a spatula to get it into as many pieces as possible.
  4. Stir occasionally as it browns. Reduce the heat if it’s browning too quickly. This should take 8 to 10 minutes.
  5. Let cool before assembling the lasagna.

Assemble the lasagna

  1. Add a thin layer of the spinach sauce to the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch casserole dish.
  2. Add a layer of matzo crackers. You can break the crackers as needed to make a full layer.
  3. Add 1/2 cup of the ricotta cheese mixture on top of the matzo cracker layer. Spread this out evenly.
  4. Add a layer of the browned ground Italian sausage.
  5. Sprinkle a think layer of crushed red pepper flakes.
  6. Repeat with additional layers of spinach sauce, matzo crackers, ricotta cheese sauce, sausage, and red pepper flakes.
  7. Once you reach the top of your dish (or run out of ingredients for layers) pour on the 1/2 cup of whole milk across the top, then cover with mozzarella cheese. The milk helps add moisture for the matzo crackers to absorb.
  8. Cover the dish with foil and place it on a baking sheet (in case it flows over). Bake for 45 minutes or until bubbly.
  9. Remove the foil and allow the top to brown for an additional 15 minutes.

Variations

This recipe was inspired by a number of online recipes we found, but mostly by one of my favorite sites, The Spruce Eats. They have some variations that include other vegetables and other cheeses. They also suggest using store bought Alfredo if you’re short on time or use marinara if you want a more traditional red lasagna.

We added the nutmeg to the ricotta sauce and the sausage and red pepper flakes that weren’t in the original recipe. You could make this without the sausage or you can also use other sausages, like a breakfast sausage or even ground beef.