Every family has a very short list of recipes that are carefully executed only in certain times of the year; sometimes they are just too complicated or long in preparation to be made on a regular day, sometimes they belong to somebody’s birthday feast or to the New Year’s Eve table. It is wonderful to have recipes like this, for the whole family to throw down and spend a few hours in the kitchen together. It always makes for good memories.


Serves: 8 / Prep time: 2 hours / Cook time: 45 minutes


  • 1 (28-ounce) can peeled tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 1/3 red onion, medium diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced into chunks
  • Pinch red pepper flakes, optional
  • 2 handful fresh basil, torn, plus more for serving
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


Yields: 3 cups  / Prep time: 5 minutes  / Cook time: 20 minutes

  • 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 cups whole milk
  • Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds baby spinach
  • 4 small zucchini, diced
  • 1 (9-ounce) box flat no boil lasagna noodles (preferred brand: barilla)
  • Scant 3 cups Besciamella, (recipe above)
  • Scant 3 cups Red sauce, (recipe above)
  • 2 (8 ounces) balls fresh mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
  • 2 tablespoons butter, sliced into thin pats
  • Extra virgin olive oil, for serving
  • Salt and Pepper



  1. With an immersion blender roughly puree the tomatoes to a smooth creamy consistency.
  2. Add olive oil to a large pan over medium heat. Once hot, add the onions and saute until they are soft, and before it actually starts browning a bit, add the garlic. If you’d like to make the sauce spicier, add a pinch red pepper, optional.
  3. Add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Simmer on a medium-low flame for about a half hour. Thrive for balance in the consistency of the sauce, it has to be fluid but it should not look overly wet. A few minutes before taking the sauce off the fire, add half the basil and season with salt and pepper.

BESCIAMELLA (Béchamel Sauce)

  1. In a small saucepan, warm up the milk over medium heat.
  2. In a medium skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon, about 5 minutes. Be careful not to burn the flour.
  3. Add the warm milk to the butter-flour mixture and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 15 minutes until thickened.
  4. Season the sauce with freshly grated nutmeg, salt, and pepper to taste. Taste to ensure the flour flavor has dissipated. If you still taste the flour, cook a few minutes longer.


  1. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large non-stick skillet. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add red pepper flakes and sauté for 20 seconds and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Add the spinach in batches by large handfuls and toss in the hot oil until it all wilts down. Season spinach with salt and pepper and sauté until tender, about 6 minutes.
  3. Remove to fine mesh sieve to drain as it cools. Once cool, place in a clean tea towel and squeeze out excess water. Roughly chop and reserve in a bowl.
  4. Wipe out skillet (or use a different large skillet), and add remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, and place back over medium high heat. Once hot, add the zucchini and cook for about 12 minutes, until tender and golden. Remove the zucchini to a bowl and reserve.
  5. Preheat the oven to 375º.
  6. Butter a 13 by 9 by 4 baking dish and add a thin layer of besciamella. Cover with a layer of noodles (4 across) and then another thin layer of besciamella. Sprinkle some spinach and zucchini across the layer, and then top with ¼ of mozzarella and sprinkling of Parmesan and a ladle of red sauce.
  7. Repeat for 2 more layers. Top with a final layer of noodles and spread a final layer of besciamella, red sauce, mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese and a few pats of butter to help the cheese crisp-up when cooked in the oven.
  8. Cover the lasagne with foil and bake for about 30 minutes. Turn heat to 400 degrees, uncover and bake for 10-15 minutes more, until the cheese just begins to brown and the sauce bubbles.
  9. Let rest for 15 minutes before slicing. Serve dressed with some Parmesan and a drop of extra-virgin olive oil.