March 28, 2007

Lasagna


Ingredients:
1 lb lasagna noodles
parmesan for sprinkling

for the cheese/spinach filling:
1 cup ricotta
3/4 cup chopped spinach (squeezed dry if previously frozen)
1/2 cup parmesan
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 eggs

for the bolognese sauce:
1 lb ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
6 oz fresh mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 large can whole tomatoes, hand crushed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup parsley
salt and pepper


Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Boil the lasagna noodles until almost al dente. Arrange the boiled noodles in a single layer on cookie sheets until assembly. Meanwhile, stir together all of the cheese/spinach filling ingredients until uniform. Set aside. Then,heat the oil in a large saute pan. Add the beef and brown*. When beef has browned, add the onions, garlic, carrots and mushrooms. Saute until the vegetables are soft. Add the milk and cook over high heat until the milk has evaporated to prevent the sauce from becoming acidic after adding the wine. Add the wine and continue to cook over high heat until the liquid has evaporated. Add the tomatoes and turn the heat down low. Simmer for at least 1 hour. You can cook it longer if you have the time, the flavor improves with more cooking, but an hour yields a perfectly tasty sauce. Add the parsley and cook for 5 more minutes. Ladle some of the sauce in the bottom of lasagna pan. Arrange the noodles in a single layer, overlapping as necessary. Spread with the spinach/cheese mixture and top with more sauce and another layer of noodles. Repeat until the pan is full, reserving some sauce to coat the final layer of noodle. Sprinkle with parmesan. Cover in foil and bake 45 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake 15 additional minutes or until bubbly and hot. Allow to sit 5 minutes before serving.

* At this point, if you didn't use low fat ground beef, you can drain the fat and then add 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil.


My thoughts:
I think a lot of people, my husband included, think of lasagna as this big, drawn out affair. I don't see how it is any more difficult or time consuming than so-called "easier" baked pasta dishes like baked ziti, and layering noodles is quicker than stuffing shells or manicotti. The hands on time is really minimal: 2 minutes to stir the cheeses together, brief hands on time with the sauce followed by ignoring it while it simmers, about 10 minutes for assembly and you are done. The 1 hour bolognese sauce (which, in a secret Rachael Ray-esque way, I think of as bologn-easy sauce) tastes like you have been making it all day, and totally eliminates the need to cook any other sort of meat separate from the sauce. You do have to be around while the sauce cooks and the lasagna bakes but they honestly need little monitoring. Unbaked lasagna also freezes well, so you could make it ahead (or make two and freeze one) but I find that frozen lasagna often takes twice as long to bake, so it might be just as quick (if you don't mind some prep) to make it fresh.

12 comments:

  1. I agree with your thoughts on the lasagna, my grandmother always made lasagna and it was a long drawn out affair, but for myself I find it doesn't have to be, and I even don't even go the route of pre-cooking the noodles, I tend to make the recipe as is and let it sit covered in the fridge for a while before baking, just making sure everything is covered well with sauce and it always comes out just fine.

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  2. Yum. I LOVE lasagna. Such comfort food! But I have never made it. I will have to fix that problem via your recipe.

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  3. I love the smell of lasagna baking. When you walk into the house you can tell right away what's in the oven. I love it.

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  4. I think that people think lasagne is a drawn out affair (over here in the UK anyway) because we use a layer of bechemel sauce in between the red sauce instead of ricotta.
    Yours looks great!

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  5. Lasagna is one of my ultimate comfort foods! I think I'll add it to the menu for this week. Delicious!

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  6. yummeee.. my favourite & yours look delicious.. will definitly try.. :)

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  7. I haven't had lasagna in such a long time. It's one of those dishes I refuse to make because my mother's is so freaking awesome and I just know I'll be dissapointed with my results. :) Yours looks delicious, and your post brought back great memories too!

    Ari (Baking and Books)

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  8. I love lasagna, especially the cheesy, fattening kind. But it's true, people think of lasagna as a 'special' dish, and to be honest, I used to think so to. Until I made it, that is. Now I know how easy it is to make, especially since I don't pre-boil the noodles, but just soak them in some hot water. Easy peasy.

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  9. What's better than lasagna?!

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  10. Question. The hand-crushed tomatoes, do you add them in with the juices from the can, or without?

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  11. I add some/most of the juices unless for some reason there is a huge amount juice, then I cut down. I just eye ball it. It will cook down, so it is better to add more than less.

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  12. i LOVE lasagne. I'm eating it right now :o)

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