Reader Recipe Exchange: Nick’s Lasagna

Nick Riggio

Nick Riggio, a University City resident and member of Kol Rinah, explained that when he injured his knee some years ago, he wanted to show his appreciation to his co-workers for covering for him by making them his “famous” lasagna. 

“I used to develop recipes for a catering company so I kept track of this one as I was making it,” he said. “I believe the key to it’s richness is the béchamel sauce.

“My wife and I were married June of 2017 and I gave this recipe to our caterer to serve for our reception. She did an excellent job of duplicating it for a crowd. It takes some work, but I think it’s worth it, and I hope you do, too.”

Nick’s Lasagna

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Ingredients for Béchamel Sauce:

  • 1 quart half and half
  • 4 Tbs. butter
  • 4 Tbs. flour
  • 1 1⁄2 tsp. salt
  • 1⁄2 tsp. white pepper
  • 1⁄2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 16 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese  
  • 1⁄2 cup grated fresh parmesan cheese


Melt butter in sauce pan. Whisk in flour, and cook for two minutes. Heat milk to scalding, and slowly whisk into rue. Cook until thickened and season with salt pepper and nutmeg. Cool sauce in a cold water bath. When it’s cold stir in 12 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese and 1⁄2 cup grated fresh parmesan cheese

Ingredients for Tomato Sauce:

  • 1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes chopped One 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1⁄2 head garlic peeled and minced
  • 1 1⁄2 Tbs. margarine
  • 1⁄2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1⁄2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1⁄2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. dried basil
  • 2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil


Melt margarine in sauce pan, sauté onions with red pepper flakes, oregano and salt. When onions are cooked add garlic and cook one minute more until fragrant. Add tomatoes and cover and cook until tomatoes separate from oils, around 15 minutes. Add basil, brown sugar, and olive oil. Stir until well blended and allow to cool down.

Ingredients for vegetable filling:

  • 16 oz. (one bag) frozen cut leaf spinach
  • 8 oz. fresh mushrooms sliced and micro-waved to cook the water off 
  • 12 oz. jar roasted red peppers, diced
  • 1 1⁄4 cup diced kalamata olives, pitted
  • 1 tbs. fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • (artichoke hearts would be good in here too)


Thaw spinach in colander and squeeze the water out. Combine ingredients and add a small amount of salt and a generous amount of cracked black pepper.

Lasagna preparation directions:

Use an 8 oz. box of no boil lasagna noodles and make your lasagna.

Use nine noodles. 9×13 baking dish. Spread some tomato sauce in bottom . Lay out three noodles and press gently down into the sauce. Spread more sauce, 1/3 béchamel sauce, and 1/3 veggie mixture. Repeat for remains noodles. Top with remaining sauce and remaining 4oz. mozzarella cheese and more parmesan cheese. Cover all noodles. Cover with a dome of foil and bake on middle rack at 325 degrees for up to 45 minutes (keep an eye on it the last 15 minutes). Remove and allow to cool completely before refrigerating.