I love manicotti, but don't always have time to make it. A lasagne version is easier: instead of stuffing manicotti, I put a layer of lasagne on bottom and top. It's a good make-ahead dish; it freezes well, and the recipe can be doubled. There are two versions of noodle types, each with their own instructions: lasagne that you cook, and no-cook noodles. I know -- no-cook noodles. Hate me if you must -- but when time is short, the no-cook noodles work well (though there's more baking time, there's less prep-time and one less pot to wash). It may seem like there's a lot of spinach, but I think this is just the right amount (I've upped the amount over time). Even my spinach-hating spouse loves this. —louisez
Heat oil in pan over medium heat. When hot, add garlic and cook till it just has begun to brown.
Add red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, sugar, and tomatoes.
Simmer over medium-low heat till sauce thickens -- about an hour. Discard garlic cloves when sauce is done. While sauce is simmering, prepare lasagne ingredients.
If using regular lasagne noodles, cook according to package directions, drain, rinse with cold water, drain again, and set aside.
Combine spinach with ricotta, 2 c. of Parmesan, nutmeg, and eggs. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside and prepare white sauce (which will go on top of lasagne).
Melt the 6 Tbs. butter. Stir in flour, and cook over medium-low heat a minute or two. Add the milk gradually. Cook, stirring or whisking, till mixture thickens.
Grease a 12x16" pan (I use a roasting pan that's about those dimensions).
Put the tomato sauce in the bottom of the pan, and spread evenly.
Top with half the noodles.
Put ricotta mixture on top.
Top ricotta mixture with the rest of the noodles.
Spread white sauce evenly on top.
Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan.
For regular, cooked lasagne noodles:
Bake in a preheated 425 oven for 20-30 minutes, or lasagne is till bubbly and top has browned.
For no-cook noodles: Cover pan with foil. Bake in preheated 375 oven for 1 1/2 hours. Uncover, and cook till top has browned.
In either case, let sit 10 minutes after baking before serving.