Sam-I-am likes this gooey, cheesy Green Eggs and Ham Lasagne. Try it, try it, and you will see! (Skip to recipe.)
'I do not like them Sam-I-am, I do not like green eggs and ham.'
Dr. Seuss's poor, beleaguered creature cannot rid himself of Sam-I-am's attempts to get him to try his platter of green eggs and ham. He won't try them in a boat or with a goat, or in a box with a fox . . . not even in a house or with a mouse!
But, I'll bet if you try this Green Eggs and Ham lasagne in your house, you will be a convert. You'll be Sam-I-am's new best buddy.
Each gooey, cheesy slab of lasagne hides layers of savoury ham, juicy spinach, and the treasure in the middle - a sunny golden-yolked egg baked right into the layers. You'll want to eat this lasagne here, there, and anywhere! (I know I do.)
When Catelli recently came out with their new gluten free Lasagne pasta, I was thrilled! We love their other gluten-free pasta shapes and how they cook up. Spaghetti, macaroni, penne, fusilli, and also the new linguini - it's so easy to have all our favourite pasta dishes again, without the gluten but with all the familiar wonderful flavours. Their pasta has produced fantastic results in my Deluxe Pizza-Ghetti Pie or in tasty, traditional Macaroni Salad.
The family loves the taste, but I love the nutritional profile of Catelli's pasta. It's made with ingredients that are declared GMO free; their unique four-grain blend of the finest quality white and brown rice, corn, and quinoa. This pasta has rated extremely high by consumers in blind taste tests for taste, texture, colour and appearance and was voted the Best New Gluten Free Pasta by Consumers. It is produced in a dedicated gluten free facility, and certified by the Canadian Celiac Association.
I love that the new oven-ready lasagne sheets are flat, making for a smooth, neat lasagne, and I love how four sheets fit evenly in a 9x13 inch pan, expanding when cooked, to fill it just right. But best of all, I love how these noodles taste just like regular, traditional pasta. A winner all around, in my books.
I played around with a lot of versions to figure out how to get an egg in the middle of each piece of lasagne. The spinach creates a nice little nest to insulate the egg and keep it in place. Catelli's gluten free pasta sheets cook up surprisingly quickly, allowing this lasagne to be ready in half an hour in the oven - that short cooking time helps keep the eggs from overcooking so that you can have yolks that are gently oozing or softly set.
This Green Eggs and Ham Lasagne (or should I say Greens, Eggs, and Ham?) was inspired by that familiar children's book, but it's a whole lot more fun than plain ol' eggs and ham.
It's loaded with juicy, iron-rich spinach (the greens), savoury ham slices, and creamy sauce sandwiched between two cozy blankets of lasagne noodles. Three different cheeses add fantastic flavour and provide ooey-gooey meltiness (those are words, right?). And the hidden treat is the egg baked right into the middle, providing a golden surprise when you cut into a portion.
No, the egg's not green, but I'm sure Sam-I-am would eat it anyway.
* * * * *
Kitchen Frau Notes: *Sweet rice flour is different from regular rice flour - it is made from cooked sticky short grain rice and behaves more like a starch than a flour. It is not sweet, as the name suggests, but has a very mild rice flavour. I find it is the closest match to regular flour for both texture and taste in thickening gravies and sauces. It whisks in beautifully and doesn't form lumps. If you regularly cook gluten free meals in your kitchen, it is worth searching out sweet rice flour to have on hand. It can be found in health food stores and Asian groceries. It also goes by the names of glutinous rice flour (not because it contains gluten, but because of the sticky nature of the rice), mochigomeko (in Japanese), or Mochiko sweet rice flour.
If you can't get sweet rice flour, corn starch is an acceptable substitute, but it needs to be made into a slurry before being added to the sauce, so it doesn't form lumps.
The instructions for assembling the lasagne look lengthy, but don't be put off by them, it really is quite simple to put together, and cooks up quickly. If you have the spinach thawed ahead of time, all it takes is to make the white sauce and assemble the layers.
Green Eggs and Ham Lasagne
Inspired by Dr. Seuss's children's book, 'Green Eggs and Ham'
For the White Sauce:
- ¼ cup (55gms) butter
- 1 onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 teaspoons dry mustard
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground white pepper
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 5 tablespoons (50gms) sweet rice flour* (see above) or 5 tablespoons corn starch
- 3½ cups (720ml) milk
- ¾ cup (100gms) grated Parmesan cheese (that's half of the total amount needed for this lasagna recipe)
For the Lasagne Layers:
- 3 packages (300gms/10.5 oz each) chopped frozen spinach, thawed (or 900gms/2lbs fresh spinach, cooked and chopped)
- 8 sheets (6¼ x 3¼ inches/16 x 8 cm each) Catelli oven-ready, gluten free lasagne noodles (about ½ of a 250gm package)
- 10 to 12 thin slices deli ham (225 to 250 gms)
- 8 large eggs
- 1 cup (100gms) crumbled feta cheese
- 1 cup (100gms) shredded mozzarella cheese
- ¾ cup (100gms) grated Parmesan cheese
- chopped fresh dill or parsley, to garnish
Set the thawed frozen spinach into a colander to drain.
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Set the top rack to the middle position in the oven.
Make the White Sauce:
Finely mince the onion and garlic in a food processor or by hand. A mini food processor chops them very quickly - you want them fine, but not turned to a mush.
In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the minced onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes, until the moisture from the butter and onions has evaporated, leaving a thick mass of cooked onions.
Add the dry mustard, nutmeg, salt, pepper.
Sprinkle with the sweet rice flour and stir until all the flour is moistened with butter. Add about ½ cup of the milk, and cook and stir until thickened and smooth. Keep adding the milk, ½ cup at a time, whisking the sauce until smooth after each addition.
[If using corn starch, add 3 cups (720ml) of the milk to the cooked onions and seasonings. Bring to a simmer, then whisk together the corn starch and the remaining ½ cup (120ml) of milk and whisk it into the sauce.]
Cook the sauce until it is just starting to bubble. Stir in the grated Parmesan cheese and remove from the heat.
Squeeze as much water as you can from the drained spinach. You should have about 2 cups of drained, squeezed spinach in total. (If using frozen spinach packages with 2 blocks per package, squeeze each block until it is about ⅓ of a cup in volume.)
To Assemble the Lasagne:
Preheat the oven to 325°F and adjust the top rack so it is in the middle of the oven.
- Lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch glass or ceramic baking pan. Spread the bottom of the pan with ½ cup (120ml) of the sauce.
- Lay 4 lasagne sheets in a single layer in the pan. If your pan has rounded corners, gently break off bits of the corners of the pasta sheets so they lay flat in the sauce. Place the broken-off bits into the spaces between the pasta sheets. (See step 11, below)
- Cover the pasta with another ½ cup of the sauce, spreading it evenly with a silicone spatula.
- Add a single layer of ham slices. Use 5 to 6 slices, trimming them to fit and using the trimmings to cover the spaces.
- Pull off bits of spinach from the drained clumps and lay them against the edges of the pan to make a raised border, about 1 inch (2.5cm) high, all the way around, on top of the ham. Then use the remainder of the spinach to make a ridge lengthwise down the center of the pan and 3 ridges crosswise to make 8 'nests' in a 2 by 4 grid (Like an 8-paned window). Make sure there are no gaps in the ridges, so the eggs will stay contained in each nest. Place a wooden toothpick upright against the sides of the pan where each ridge meets the edge of the pan. The toothpicks will be your markers so you can cut the cooked lasagne along the spinach ridges, making sure to have one egg centered in each piece.
- Crack one egg into each nest.
- Use another ½ cup of the white sauce to dribble over the spinach ridges to moisten them as the lasagne bakes. Try to avoid putting it on the eggs.
- Sprinkle the whole layer of eggs and spinach with the crumbled feta cheese.
- Cover the eggs and spinach with the remaining ham slices in a single layer, trimming them to fit.
- Dollop on 1 cup (240ml) of the white sauce and spread it out gently in an even layer.
- Layer on the remaining 4 pasta sheets, as in the first layer above.
- Cover with the remainder of the white sauce, spreading it evenly right to the edges of the baking dish.
- Sprinkle with the shredded mozzarella cheese.
- Sprinkle with the grated Parmesan cheese.
Bake for 28 to 33 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time so the eggs cook evenly. 28 minutes will give you soft eggs, 30 minutes will give medium eggs, but it also depends on the heat of your oven. If you prefer hard eggs, rather than soft-to-medium, bake it for 5 minutes longer.
Remove the lasagne from the oven. Set the oven to the 'broil' setting. If the pan has glass or ceramic handles, cover them loosely with strips of foil. Place the lasagne on the rack in the middle of the oven, under the broiler and leave the oven door open about 6 inches (15cm) and broil just until the top of the lasagne is bubbling and golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Watch it carefully so it doesn't get too dark.
Leave the lasagne to rest for a full 15 minutes - this is important - so that it can firm up a bit to slice more evenly.
Sprinkle with the chopped dill or parsley. Dill goes especially well with the spinach and feta cheese.
Cut the Green Eggs & Ham Lasagne into 8 even pieces. Cut along the lines where the spinach ridges are, using the toothpicks as guides, so that each piece gets a whole baked egg in the center. Remove the toothpicks.
Serve with a fresh tomato salad or a green salad with a tangy vinaigrette dressing.
Makes 8 portions.
Disclaimer: The pasta for my experimentation and development of this dish was provided by Catelli. The recipe, content, and opinions are my own.
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