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Vegetarian Pesto and Pine Nut Lasagna with Chef Drew

Vegetarian Pesto and Pine Nut Lasagna with Chef Drew

Posted by Andrea Glazer on July 26, 2020 | Share

Written by Drew Brown, Director of Food Service at the J

Vegetarian Pesto and Pine Nut Lasagna


  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2, ⅔ cups skim milk
  • 1 lbs ricotta cheese
  • ¼ lbs grated parmesan
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ lbs fresh spinach, washed and roughly chopped
  • 2 bunches green onions, sliced
  • 16-ounce box dried lasagna noodles
  • 8 ounces of jarred or homemade pesto
  • 2 tbsp heaped pine nuts


  1. Melt the butter in a large pan, then stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk gradually, one splash at a time, to make a smooth sauce. Bring to a gentle bubble while still stirring, then cook for a couple of minutes until thickened.
  2. Turn off the heat and whisk in the ricotta until smooth, followed by half of the parmesan. Season and add the nutmeg. Spoon out a couple of ladles of the sauce and reserve for the top of the lasagna, then stir the chopped spinach and spring onions into the rest of the sauce.
  3. Spread a third of the spinach sauce over the bottom of a large baking dish (or 8 individual dishes). Add a layer of pasta, then spread or brush over a third of the pesto. Top with another third of the spinach sauce, followed by pasta and pesto, then repeat the layers once more. Add a final layer of pasta, then spread over the reserved white sauce. Scatter with the pine nuts and remaining parmesan.
  4. Heat the oven to 350°F and bake for 40-45 minutes until bubbling, browned, and crisp on top.  Serve with watercress.

Additional Comments:

The critical part of this recipe comes early on with making a roux (butter and flour) into a béchamel (a thickened milk sauce). Be careful and gradually add the milk to the roux – you will get good results. The resulting sauce should be thick like a nice creamed soup.

Adding nutmeg to a savory cream dish is a very French thing to do – you can omit it in this recipe, but you will be missing out on the subtle flavor it adds.  Great quiche recipes always have nutmeg in them for a reason. I love the addition of pine nuts as well. If you want, you can toast extra pine nuts and reserve for a garnish which adds great color, flavor, and texture to the dish.

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The man behind the meals: Drew Brown is the Director of Food Service at the J. He is a graduate of Cincinnati State, The University of Cincinnati, and received his Master’s degree from The College of Mount Saint Joseph. He is the Chef-Owner of Spice Spice Baby Cincinnati, and his recipes have won multiple awards in cooking competitions around the Tri-State. Drew is the Founder of Avon Miami Charities, a charity that prepares and distributes more than 10,000 meals a year to local homeless shelters.