Saturday, January 15, 2011

Lasagna Worth Making

This lasagna happens in several steps. Yes, it takes time to make lasagna... but I guarantee that this lasagna is worth making. Well, I think so anyway... and everyone I've ever served it to has said it's the best lasagna they've ever tasted. So give it a whirl, and tell me if you agree.

Lasagna Worth Making

Sauce Ingredients:
1 pound ground beef
1-2 yellow onions
olive oil
1 garlic head
5-8 large tomatoes (or 28 oz. in cans)
6 oz. tomato paste
2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
pinch of red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp dried basil (or 1 Tbsp fresh, chopped basil)
1 bay leaf
2 cups water
  1. Chop up your onions and garlic. Onions can be diced... garlic needs to be minced.
  2. Sautee your onions in olive oil in the frying pan, just enough to coat the onions. Once softened, add in your beef and brown the meat.
  3. While meat is browning, chop up your tomatoes.
  4. Once meat is browned, add in everything else on the list above: (garlic, tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, red pepper flakes, sugar, basil, bay leaf, and water). Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to lowest setting. Simmer 45 minutes to 1 hour. Stir occasionally. Sauce will reduce and thicken.

While sauce is cooking, make the following:

Ricotta cheese filling:
8-10 ounces ricotta cheese (leave undrained)
2 large eggs, beaten
whole milk (maybe)
parsley (if you have it)
  • Combine ricotta cheese with 2 beaten eggs. If thick, add a Tbsp or so of milk until it is a smooshable consistency. That's right, I said smooshable.
  • If you have parsley, add in about 1 tsp of parsley. Fresh is even better. If not, don't sweat it!

Also, you'll need 1 box lasagna noodles (specifically, you'll need 12 noodles), 1 cup of water and roughly 1 pound shredded mozzerella or meltable white cheese (for those here in Turkey with me, I like the white cheese found at Bim... it comes in 1 kilo blocks, and has a mountain scene on the package. It's the best cheese I've found for general use like this).

Once the sauce is ready, you'll want to have all your ingredients around your 9 x 13 baking dish. To make your lasagna, do the following:
  • First, take a serving spoon-ful of the liquidy sauce at the top of the sauce pan, and use it to coat the bottom of the baking dish. This will serve as your greasing of the pan.
  • Then, you'll want to proceed in the following order, repeating yourself 4 times (so for each layer, you'll want to use approximately 1/4th of whatever ingredient you're pulling from.):
  1. Lasagna noodles-- 3 across
  2. Ricotta cheese-- use approximately one heaping forkful on each noodle. Then use your fork to smash down and spread across the noodles. It won't cover it, and that's fine, just get it to where it's evened out throughout the pan, across the noodles.
  3. Sauce-- A few serving-spoon-fuls across the cheese mixture. Try to spread it out, but remember to just use about 1/4th of the sauce for each layer. It should almost cover the layer below. (This is where you get to be Madam Chef. If things look a bit dry, use some of that 1 cup of water to just pour over this layer. We want the noodles to fully cook, and so you can just add a splash of water here or there as needed in this layer. Have confidence in yourself... it won't likely mess up either way!)
  4. Shredded cheese. Use slightly less than 1/4th of the cheese for each layer, so that you can completely cover the dish on the top layer.
That's it.

Then stick it in a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes, or until the top is nice and browned, and the sauce is no longer liquidy. This is one of my prized recipes, for company, and just for enjoyment by our family as well. I hope you enjoy it too.

P.S. - this meal is easily doubled and you can serve one to your family, and take another to a friend who just had a baby, just had surgery, etc. Lasagna is a classic meal for those circumstances, but homemade is even more of a treat!

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