This Lasagne Al Pesto (otherwise known as Lasagne Alla Portofino) is quick, easy and packs in a daily dose of green veggies too. Broccoli, spinach, peas, and pesto are the key ingredients in this delicious vegetarian lasagne recipe. This healthy and tasty green veg filling is topped with a creamy bechamel sauce that sits between the layers of fresh lasagne sheets and is finished with an irresistible mozzarella and parmesan topping.
If you're not tempted just yet you might be pleased to know that this is a great make-ahead meal and that the leftovers often taste even better than the first serving. It's perfect for meal prepping, freezes well and is great for feeding a crowd.
🛒 Key ingredients and possible alternatives
- Bechamel sauce - combines butter, plain/all-purpose flour, and milk. Season with ground nutmeg, black pepper, and a little salt.
- Green veggies - this recipe uses broccoli, frozen petit pois, and spinach but you can swap this for other green veggies like courgettes/zucchini or green beans. I use tenderstem broccoli because the thin stems fit nicely into the assembled lasagne when sliced vertically but you can use finely chopped slices of ordinary broccoli florets instead. I have chosen petit pois instead of garden peas because they are sweeter but garden peas will also do nicely. I advise using pre-washed spinach to avoid adding additional moisture to the sauce. If you need to wash the spinach make sure you dry it first.
- Green pesto - use high-quality fresh store-bought pesto or make your own using the homemade pesto recipe from my Linguine Al Pesto. I find high-quality fresh ready-made pesto is often just as good as homemade pesto and is something I will often reach for when I am short on time. You can also use normal shop-bought jarred pesto. Some pestos will contain more salt than others. I suggest tasting the pesto sauce after you have mixed it into the cooked green veg and adding a little more salt if you feel it's needed.
- Fresh lasagne sheets - I always opt for fresh over dry because they cook a lot more quickly. If you want to use dry sheets instead you will need to bake the lasagne for at least half an hour.
- Cheese - a lasagne is not complete without a yummy grilled cheese topping. Creamy mozzarella is delicious with basil pesto sauce and bechamel. I use grated mozzarella for ease but you can use fresh instead. I also add a little freshly grated parmesan to bring a stronger nutty flavour to the topping. If you do not have parmesan you can substitute this for another ¼ cup of mozzarella.
🧑🍳 How to make Lasagne Al Pesto
1. Make the bechamel sauce
Heat your oven to 200C or 400F. Place a saucepan on a medium heat and melt the butter. Then stir in the flour and pour in the milk gradually. Stir continuously until the sauce thickens and add ground nutmeg, ground black pepper, and a little salt. Leave the finished bechamel sauce on a low heat while you make the green veg and pesto filling.
2. Make the green veg and pesto filling
Place a Dutch Oven or large frying pan on a medium heat and sauté the broccoli for a few minutes. Then add the vegetable stock and simmer for a few more minutes until the brocoli is tender. Add the peas and simmer for two more minutes. Then stir in the spinach and continue to cook on a low heat until wilted. You might need to do this in two batches. Stir in the pesto when the spinach has wilted and remove the pan from the heat.
3. Assemble the lasagne
Spoon one-third of the green veg mixture into the bottom of your baking dish. Then spread a quarter of the bechamel sauce on the top. Place a layer of fresh lasagne sheets on top and continue this process for two more layers. Then spread the remaining bechamel on the top layer and sprinkle grated mozzarella and parmesan on top.
Place the lasagne on a high shelf in your oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until the top begins to brown and you can see the sauce bubbling around the edges. Leave to cool for 10 minutes before serving.
🔪 Tools and Equipment
- Medium saucepan - for making the bechamel sauce.
- Dutch oven / large frying pan - choose a pan that can hold the sauce and accommodate the spinach. A Dutch oven works well as does a large frying pan with sides. Avoid very shallow frying pans with low sides.
- Baking dish - the volume of lasagne you will get from this recipe will fit nicely into a 27 x 16cm (11 x 6 inch) baking dish with 3 layers. If you need to use a different-sized baking dish the number of layers you have might vary.
- Cheese grater - for grating the parmesan
👍 Top tips for perfect Lasagne Al Pesto
- Use washed spinach - adding wet recently washed spinach to the lasagne mix will make the filling watery. Use pre-washed spinach to avoid this or ensure any spinach you wash is dry before you add it to the lasagne. Salad spinners are particularly good for drying washed spinach if you own one.
- Use fresh lasagne sheets - they cook much more quickly than dry lasagne sheets. If you use dry lasagne sheets you will need to cook the lasagne for at least 30 minutes whereas fresh lasagne sheets only require 15 minutes.
- Let it rest - you want to avoid sloppy lasagne and you don't want to scald your mouth so allow the baked lasagne to rest for 10 minutes.
You can store the leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days. Make sure you cover them with cling film or store them in a sealed container. You can reheat the lasagne in the oven or microwave.
Yes, you can freeze the lasagne for up to 3 months. Just portion out the leftovers, place in airtight containers and freeze when cool. You can defrost in the fridge and then bake or bake straight from frozen. You can also reheat in the microwave, but I recommend you defrost first.
Leave the lasagne to rest for 10 minutes before you serve. This gives it time to set and cool down a little. Otherwise, your lasagne will be formless, sloppy and you might also burn the roof of your mouth.
It can be, somehow the flavours intensify after a stint in the fridge. It's advisable to make extra because the leftovers are likely to taste even better than the first serving.
3 is the consensus, but you can add more if you are serving a crowd or use a larger dish. It's best to choose a dish that will enable you to get 3 layers out of the amount you are making. 3 layers of this lasagne Al Pesto recipe fit comfortably into a 27 x 16cm (11 x 6 inch) baking dish.
🍝 More easy pasta recipes to try:
- Sage Butter & Walnut Pasta
- Easy Creamy Tuna Pasta Bake
- Nduja, 3 Cheese & Kale Lasagne
- Puttanesca Rigatoni
- Red Pesto Pasta
Pesto Lasagna (Lasagna Al Pesto)
- 4 tbsp (60 g) butter
- 4 tbsp (30 g) flour
- 1 ⅔ cups (400 ml) milk
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp sea or kosher salt
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 7 oz (200 g) broccolini (tenderstem broccoli) cut in half lengthways
- ½ cup (120 ml) veg stock
- 1.5 cups (300 g) frozen peas petit pois or garden peas
- 12 oz (350 g) spinach (note 1)
- ¾ cup (200 g) green pesto
- 5-7 oz (200 g) fresh lasagna sheets (note 2)
- ⅔ cup (75 g) shredded (grated) mozzarella cheese
- ¼ cup (25 g) shredded (grated) parmesan cheese
- Heat your oven to 400F (200C).
- Make the bechamel sauce. Place a saucepan on a medium heat and add the butter.
- Stir in the flour when the butter has melted.
- Add the milk gradually and stir continuously until a thick sauce is formed.
- Stir in the ground nutmeg, black pepper, and salt and leave the pan on its lowest heat while you prepare the green veg lasagna filling.
- Place a Dutch Oven or large frying pan on a medium to high heat and add the olive oil.
- Add the broccoli and sauté for 3 minutes then add the vegetable stock and cook for 2-3 more minutes.
- Add the frozen peas to and simmer for 2 minutes.
- Add the spinach to the pan, stir it in and leave on a medium heat until wilted. You might need to do this in batches.
- Stir in the green pesto and remove the pan from the heat. (note 3)
- Assemble the lasagna. Spoon 1 third of the green veg pesto mixture into the bottom of your baking dish, then add the bechamel sauce and top with a layer of fresh lasagna sheets. Repeat for 2 more layers.
- Spread any remaining bechamel sauce on the top layer of lasagna sheets and sprinkle grated mozzarella and Parmesan on top.
- Place the lasagne towards the top of your oven for 15-20 minutes until the top is brown and you can see the sauce bubbling around the edges.
- Leave to cool for 10 minutes before serving.
- Buy pre-washed spinach to avoid adding additional liquid to the sauce. If you need to wash the spinach first make sure you dry it thoroughly before adding it to the lasagna filling mixture.
- Fresh lasagna sheets take less time to cook than dried. If you need to use dry lasagna sheets instead you will need to increase the time in the oven to 30 minutes.
- You might need to add a little salt at this point. I suggest you taste it to see. When I tested the recipe with fresh homemade and fresh shop-bought pesto adding extra salt was not necessary, but when I used jarred pesto I felt it needed a little more salt.