A Christmas Eve Tradition
Christmas food is always my favorite food of the year because it combines nostalgic holiday food traditions passed down with new traditions the fella and I have established together. One tradition that the fella and I have established is to make a lasagna for our Christmas Eve dinner. My Christmas Eve Lasagna combines alternating layers of savory and herbaceous beef and sausage red sauce with creamy green spinach ricotta cheese. No-boil lasagna noodles make this dish super easy to assemble, and a generous measure of mozzarella and parmesan ensures ample cheesiness throughout. This festive red and green lasagna is perfect for your Yuletime meal or any time you're in need of a little extra coziness.
Let's talk about no-boil lasagna noodles for a moment
I like to use no-boil lasagna noodles to make this Christmas Eve Lasagna simply because they cut down on one added step of making this dish. If you would prefer to use traditional boiled noodles, you absolutely can; The recipe will just take a bit more time overall.
If you choose to use no-boil lasagna noodles, it's important to make sure that the pasta does not overlap so that the lasagna sheets to cook properly; you'll want to make sure that every side of the pasta is able to touch the sauce or spinach ricotta layers. For my pan of pasta, I used this brand of no-boil noodles and needed one full box plus a partial second box (the rest can be saved for a future lasagna). Because the no-boil noodles are brittle, you'll need to break a few of them into fourths in order to fill the pan. I find that the easiest way to do this is to use a sharp knife to carefully make a kind of perforated cut into the dried pasta where you want it to break. This will help the pieces to break more evenly by hand.
What to serve this Christmas Eve Lasagna with
I like to serve our Christmas Eve Lasagna with a nice big tossed salad and, if we're feeling particularly indulgent, some garlic French bread. Here are a few other salads that would pair well with this lasagna also:
- Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Blue Cheese, Cranberries, and Pecans
- Wedge Salad with Horseradish Blue Cheese Dressing
- Creamy Raspberry Kale Salad
Can I pre-make this recipe and freeze it?
Yes! And I highly recommend it for a super easy holiday dinner. After all, you're likely going to be cooking up a storm on Christmas day, so it's nice to be able to just pop your pre-prepped Christmas dinner in the oven and toss a quick salad to go with it so you can enjoy the evening.
I often assemble the lasagna in a casserole dish that is both freezer and oven safe and skip the baking step, then freeze until we're ready to bake. This Christmas Eve lasagna recipe is also huge and makes 12 reasonable-sized (or 6 enormous) servings, so if we aren't sharing the meal with others I will generally layer the recipe ingredients into two 8x8 inch casserole pans and bake one for dinner a few weeks before Christmas and freeze the other half for our Christmas Eve dinner.
What tools do I need to make this recipe?
- A cutting board
- A chef's knife
- A kitchen scale (or measuring cups for less accurate measurements)
- Measuring spoons
- A can opener
- A large saucepan
- A medium saucepan
- 2 wooden spatulas
- A large spoon or ladle
- A large prep bowl (to reserve the meat)
- A food processor or high-powered blender
- A large 13 x 9-inch casserole dish - OR - (2) 8 x 8-inch casserole dishes
- Baking foil
- A large baker's half sheet
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My Christmas Eve Lasagna combines alternating layers of savory and herbaceous beef and sausage red sauce with creamy green spinach ricotta cheese. No-boil lasagna noodles make this dish super easy to assemble and a generous measure of mozzarella and parmesan ensures ample cheesiness throughout.
For the meat sauce
- 1 lb ground Italian sausage
- 1 lb ground beef
- 2 tbsp garlic-infused olive oil (may sub for 2 tbsp olive oil + 4 minced garlic cloves)
- 1 medium white onion (may sub for 100 g / 1 cup green onion if intolerant)
- 6 tbsp tomato paste
- 28 oz crushed tomatoes (I prefer this fire-roasted variety)
- 1 tsp Kosher salt (plus more to taste)
- ½ tsp cracked black pepper
- 4 tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped - OR - 4 teaspoon dried basil
- 4 ½ tsp fresh oregano, finely chopped - OR - 1 ½ teaspoon dried oregano
For the spinach ricotta filling
- 1 tbsp olive oil (may sub for garlic-infused olive oil if desired)
- 175g (about 4 cups, tightly packed) fresh spinach
- 15 oz whole milk ricotta
- 40 g (about ½ cup) parmesan cheese, shredded
- 2 large eggs
- ½ tsp Kosher salt
- ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
- 10-12 oz no-boil pasta (I used this brand which necessitated 1 full box and about a quarter of a second box)
- 24 oz (about 6 cups) mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 100g (about 1 ¼ cups) parmesan cheese, shredded
For the meat sauce
- In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, brown the sausage and beef until cooked through. If excess fat has rendered you can drain this, then reserve meat to the side in a separate dish.
- Return the same pan to the stove and add garlic oil (or olive oil + minced garlic) and the onion. If using a traditional white onion, you'll want to sautee until translucent. If using green onions, you can sautee for about a minute before moving on to the next step.
- Add the tomato paste and stir to combine. Allow to cook, stirring often until the tomato paste has darkened in color, then add the tomato sauce and stir, gently scraping to make sure that any residual brown bits from the meat and tomato paste get stirred in.
- Return the meat to the pan with the tomato sauce, season with salt, pepper, basil, and oregano, stirring to combine. Reduce the heat to medium-low and allow the sauce mixture to come to a simmer. Taste for salt and adjust if needed. Continue to simmer for about 30 minutes until the sauce reduces slightly, stirring occasionally.
For the spinach ricotta filling
- In the meantime, in a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add about ¼th of the spinach to the pan and sautee until it begins to wilt, then continue with an additional ¼th. You'll want to work in batches to add the spinach as there is so much of it, but it wilts quickly! If you find that you need a bit more moisture to keep the spinach cooking without drying out you can add about a tablespoon of water to the pan while cooking, but don't add too much as spinach contains quite a bit of water on its own and you do not want soggy spinach as it will make the ricotta filling soggy. Once the spinach has wilted and exponentially decreased in size, remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Once the spinach is cool, add to a food processor along with the ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, eggs, salt, and red pepper flakes. Blend until the spinach and eggs have broken down and combined with the ricotta. The mixture should be light green in color. Reserve to the side until ready to layer.
- Spray a 9 x 13-inch casserole dish (or (2) 8 x 8-inch casserole dishes *see notes) with cooking spray or grease with a light layer of olive oil, including the inner-sides of the pan. Ladle about ½ cup meat sauce in the bottom of the pan, spreading evenly to coat.
- Layer 1: Layer lasagna sheets in an even layer, taking care not to overlap the pasta. You may have to break some of the lasagna pieces in order to fill the pan. If using the brand I linked to, you'll need to break a few of them into fourths in order to fill the pan. I find that the easiest way to do this is to use a sharp knife to carefully make a kind of perforated cut into the dried pasta where you want it to break. This will help the pieces to break more evenly by hand. Each of my layers had 3 sheets of lasagna placed horizontally in the vertical pan and 2 additional ¼th pieces at the bottom edge. Layer half of the remaining meat sauce on top of the noodles, ensuring that the sauce is spread in a reasonably even layer. Sprinkle the top of the sauce with ¼th of the mozzarella cheese and ¼th of the parmesan cheese.
- Layer 2: Layer the second layer of lasagna sheets in an even layer, just as you did in the previous layer. Top with ½ of the spinach ricotta filling, then sprinkle with another quarter portion of mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese.
- Layers 3 and 4: Repeat layers 1 and 2 until you have 4 alternating layers: 2 with meat sauce and 2 with spinach ricotta filling. Top the lasagna with any remaining mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese.
- Allow the lasagna to cool if still warm, then generously spray a layer of tin foil with cooking spray or grease lightly with olive oil and top the pan. Store in the fridge overnight if making the following day or store in the freezer if prepping ahead of time.
- When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F / 205 C. Set the baking dish on a large rimmed baker's half sheet to catch any over-bubbling sauce. If the lasagna is still in its thawed refrigerated state, bake for 45-minutes, then carefully remove the foil and bake for an additional 15-minutes, until the cheese on top is golden brown and bubbling. If baking from frozen, the lasagna will need to bake for at least 75-minutes with the foil and then for 15-minutes after the foil has been removed. Allow the lasagna to cool for 15-minutes before slicing and serving.
This Christmas Eve lasagna recipe is also huge and makes 12 reasonable-sized (or 6 enormous) servings, so if we aren't sharing the meal with others I will generally layer the recipe ingredients into (2) 8 x 8-inch casserole pans and bake one for dinner a few weeks before Christmas and freeze the other half for our Christmas Eve dinner. If using this smaller size you can still utilize 4 layers, but it will likely need to bake for slightly less time from its frozen state. Check the lasagna at 60-minutes to ensure it's warmed in the center, then finish without foil for the final 15-minutes of baking.
Nutritional information on Whip & Wander is provided as a courtesy and is approximate only. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of the nutritional information given for any recipe on this site.
- Serving Size: 1 serving
- Calories: 770
- Sugar: 7 g
- Sodium: 1718 mg
- Fat: 44 g
- Saturated Fat: 20 g
- Carbohydrates: 46 g
- Fiber: 14 g
- Protein: 56 g
- Cholesterol: 121 mg
Keywords: Christmas Eve, Lasagna