1With an immersion blender roughly puree the tomatoes to a smooth creamy consistency.
2Add 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.
3Add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.
4Simmer 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)
1In a small saucepan, warm up the milk over medium heat.
2In 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.
3Add 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.
4Season 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.
1Heat 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.
2Add 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 saute until tender, about 6 minutes.
3Remove 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.
4Wipe 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.
5Preheat the oven to 375º.
6Butter 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.
7Repeat 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.
8Cover 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.
9Let rest for 15 minutes before slicing. Serve dressed with some Parmesan and a drop of extra-virgin olive oil.