Your Favorite Lasagna (not a discussion re traditional lasagna)
This is all about lasagna. But NOT about traditional sauce, traditional or authentic this or that. That thread would go on and on and on. This is about different ways that you make lasagna in your own unique style. Some new flavors, new tastes, new twists.
I make lasagna using zucchini thin sliced as noodles with fresh veggies and chicken sausage; mushrooms and gruyere with spinach; a total green lasagna which was a recipe here on CHOW, very good; a pepper lasagna with spinach lasagna and spicy sausage; and a ham and cheddar lasagna.
Now these are ones I have tried. What have you tried and any good ideas? I am looking forward to trying a seafood lasagna next with spinach pasta, seafood in a light tomato sauce with a combo of cheeses. Haven't come up with the recipe yet.
Help me come up with the next best lasagna.
Here's a recipe for vegan lasagna with bechamel sauce that will really surprise people. It's creamy and delicious!
Vegan Lasagna with Béchamel Sauce
For the marinara sauce (or use 4 1/2 c. of your favorite marinara sauce)
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 28-oz can plum tomatoes in puree (undrained), chopped or squeezed with your hands
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 c. chopped fresh basil
For the vegetables:
2 T. Extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 lbs. mushrooms (I used a mixture of cremini, oyster and shiitake), sliced
1 large bunch of green Swiss chard, center stems removed and leaves well chopped
For béchamel sauce:
5 T. organic canola oil
8 T. all-purpose flour
4 c. unsweetened almond milk (make sure it’s unsweetened – you can find this in a non-refrigerated carton)
1 t. salt
1/4 t. freshly grated nutmeg
Black pepper to taste
12 whole wheat lasagna noodles (or 16 if you’re using the smaller variety, such as Bionaturae brand)
To make the marinara sauce, heat the 2 T. oil in a large pot. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add all the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes. Add the basil and remove from heat.
To prepare the vegetables, heat 2 T. oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes. Remove to a bowl. Add the Swiss chard to the pan and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. (You can add a little additional oil to the pan if it seems dry after removing the mushrooms.) Combine the mushrooms and chard and set aside.
Prepare the béchamel sauce soon before assembling the lasagna. First, heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon, and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. You don’t want it to turn a color. Remove the pan from the heat and add a cup of the almond milk. Use a whisk to make it smooth, then return the pan to the burner and add the rest of the almond milk gradually, whisking with each addition. Cook for about 4-5 minutes, whisking constantly, until thick and velvety. Remove from the heat and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
Cook the lasagna noodles according to the package directions and drain. Place 1/2 c. of marinara sauce in the bottom of a 13 x 9″ pan. Cover with 3 lasagna noodles, and top with 1 cup of béchamel sauce, 1 cup of marinara and a third of the vegetable mixture. Repeat with a second and third layer of noodles, sauces and vegetables. Finish with a final layer of noodles, and top with a cup of marinara and carefully spread about 3/4 c. of béchamel over the top. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 10 minutes more. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.
I second the butternut squash lasagna with bechamel, though I cube the squash and then roast it, so the edges get caramelized a bit.
Roasted Butternut Squash Lasagna
1 med. butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
6 sheets fresh lasagna (or 1 box dried)
Bechamel sauce (1 stick of butter, 1/2-3/4 c flour, 5-6 c warm milk, salt and pepper)
Tomato sauce (I cheated this time and used one large jar of WF brand organic tomato-basil sauce)
1 - 1.5 c Parmesan cheese
salt, pepper, and olive oil
1. Put the cubed squash onto a cookie sheet lined with foil. Toss with salt, pepper and a little olive oil and roast at 400 degrees (425 if you're impatient) til the squash is tender and the edges are lightly browned/caramelized. Remove from the oven and let cool.
2. Cook the pasta according to the box or, if using fresh, parboil and rinse in cool water to stop the cooking.
3. To make the bechamel, melt the butter in a med. saucepan. Then add the flour and whisk well. Let it cook for a couple of minutes, and then slowly whisk in the milk. Keep stirring til thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste.
4. Assembling it all:
a. Spoon about 1/2 c of tomato sauce into the bottom of the baking dish and spread it around. This will help keep the pasta from sticking to the bottom.
b. Put down a layer of pasta, trimming it to fit, if nec. (with the sheets of pasta I use, I get about 3/4 of a sheet per layer, and then I combine the shorter pieces for middle layers.)
c. Then spoon in 1/2-3/4 c of the bechamel and spread it around. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the butternut squash cubes (or use 1/2 if you don't want to make as many layers.) Sprinkle with a little parmesan
d. Add another layer of pasta. Cover with 1/2 c or so of tomato sauce and then more bechamel sauce. Sprinkle with parmesan.
e. Repeat the layers of bechamel/squash and tomato/bechamel twice more (or once each if you're just doing two layers of squash)
f. Top with a last layer of pasta and spread a little more bechamel and parmesan on top.
5. Bake at 350 for 45 min. or so til hot and bubbling. Let sit for 10 min. or so before serving, so you can slice it a bit more easily.
Butternut squash lasagna- layer noodles with bechamel , fontina, and pureed roasted butternut squash mixed with ricotta, nutmeg, and S&P.
Yes. I just made some last weekend based on Michael Chiarello's recipe from Food Network - plenty of sage and this cinnamon-fennel blend. I now have 8 slices packaged neatly in the freezer for later.
My three tricks. 1) I replace the meat in my traditional sauce with grilled chicken that's been cut up. The grilling adds a nice little smoke to the sauce, and it's healthier when you need to watch your fat intake. 2) Sometimes, I'll put sliced provolone right on top of the lasagna noodle (a between-the-layer "bite"). 3) If you're cooking for only one or two and don't want to make an entire huge panful, shrink your recipe by cooking just 9 noodles and layering it in a bread loaf pan.
I like making free-form lasagna i.e. one that is not baked but is layered up on the plate. Two favourites are a spicy cherry tomato sauce layered with (cooked!) lasagna sheets, griddle aubergine and courgette slices (lengthways) and a generous smear of goats cheese in each layer. Also spring/summer vegetables like courgettes, asparagus, peas, spinach, layered with ricotta, lemon, and lots and lots of mint and basil.
Still haven't found a foolproof method of keeping the pasta sheets whole when boiling, though.
I use fresh pasta sheets - are they available where you are? No boiling required; just a little extra liquid.
That Spring lasagna sounds absolutely, positively divine. I think I'd chop some roasted artichokes into the veg, but goodness what a nice recipe. I'm assuming you blanch the vegetables first, yeah?
Yay, what a fun post! Thanks to everyone so thoughtful to post their faves.
The best non-traditional lasagna I have ever found was in a cookbook called something to the effect of 365 Pasta dishes, or something.
It was with a bechamel sauce not red, and it had five white cheeses in it. I experimented with it for a while, but the best of the five cheeses was smoked gouda. Holy moly, did that change up the flavor. Gorgonzola, too, which you would think it might fight for flavor with the smoked gouda, but it didn't. Then again, I'm a cheese-addict.
No meat, no veggies. It's the ONLY lasagna for SERIOUS cheeseheads like me.
God invented cheese because he wanted us to be happy. LOL.
The recipe proper calls for: (spinach lasagna noodles which I can't find so I have to use white), ricotta, parmesan, Gorgonzola, mozz., smoked mozz and Italian Fontina (which I can never find)
My adaptation (because of the CRUMMY grocery stores where I live) parmesan, mozz., smoked gouda, provolone, ricotta and ----gorgonzola (which I can't always find so, blue cheese).
Even with my "adaptations" it's still mouth wateringly, "can't talk, eat" good!!!
Yuppers. It's your basic Bechamel sauce.
You know, despite the fact I can't get those spinach noodles or the smoked mozz or Fontina, believe it or not, it's STILL good.
I think the MAIN requirement for a Foodie to love or not love this one, is that if you're a cheesehead like me, you'll love it. It's really just a celebration of cheese, lol!
I never even thought to look for fresh pasta sheets, will keep an eye out next time I'm in the supermarket.
Yeah to blanching the veggies first. I bring the ricotta up to room temp before cooking the dish, and mix it into the still-warm veg pan once they've been drained to warm it up slightly more, though it tends to be something served warm rather than hot.
gembellina, I find that things served at room temp or a little warmer develop a fuller flavor, whereas things served too hot or too cold lose a little flavor. Clearly I don't mean things like soup and ice cream, but I'm sure you get the general idea. I do a lot of roasted vegetables and always serve them room temp, unless it's scalloped tomatoes.
Sheets of pasta rather than traditional lasagna noodles, w/ browned ground veal meatballs with fresh chopped herbs, spinach, carmelized onions and parmesan bechamel-
Sheets again, layered with ricotta mixed with ricotta salata, layered with roasted asparagus&thyme, topping of shredded Gruyere.
Mushroom & onion duxelles, rolled up in ribbon lasagna and baked in fresh tomato sauce, served with a large spoonful of fresh ricotta
We recently made a very good Ratatouille Lasagna with Celery Root Crème. What really made this dish special was the béchamel sauce which was based on celery root. (In addition, San Diego has some of the best produce anywhere and the lasagna was a good example to use local ingredients)
I first make a very spicy marinara with tomato sauce and tomato paste, red wine, grated carrot, olive oil, marjoram, oregano, garlic, salt, pepper, rosemary, basil and thyme.
Brown ground beef and add it to the sauce.
Simmer for an hour and a half or so.
Grate a good deal of parmesan.
Slice good mozzarella and open carton of cottage cheese.
Cook nine lasagna noodles al dente.
Then it's the usual deal: spread some sauce over bottom of lasagne pan, repeat layers of noodles, mozzarella, sauce, and cottage cheese until those ingredients are exhausted.
Top with the parmesan and bake at 375 until good and bubbly.
I suppose the only untraditional aspect of the recipe is the cottage cheese in place of ricotta. I just don't like ricotta.
I LOVE this post kchurchill5! All these responses have me hungry for all of them and with resolve to attempt at least four of them. Thanks for including the recipe for your zucchini version-- this will be the first.
I'm assuming I could just sub extra ricotta for the cottage cheese? Though I do love cottage cheese on its own, after having it in my MIL's version (without ricotta whatsoever) I unfortunately became disgusted with the idea of cottage cheese in lasagna.
A friend of mine made spinach lasagna once and was nice enough to share. It was amazing. I still used the traditional ricotta and mozz layer, noodles, but I used a combo of a bechemel, fresh portabellos and sauteed onions and a walnut spinach pesto sauce. It was all sort of by accident but I still make it to this day. I found a place online to order it and also a place in Orlando where I can get it too. No pasta machine at my place so I just buy it.
I layered a standard bechemel, then the spinach noodles, then a thin layer of the walnut spinach pesto, then slices of fresh portabellos and sauteed onions, bechemel, topped with the ricotta mozz and then, once again, noodles, pesto, mushrooms, bechemel and ricotta and then more noodles. It is very rich but very good. The key spinach lasagna.
I can post if anyone is interested.
Ok, my one starts like a chili:
sweat onions and garlic
Brown meat (I use chopped steak)
Add tomatoes, dried herbs, and a teaspoonfull of marmite (helps give a meaty flavour).
cover with water, and simmer for 2 hours.
Near the end of the 2 hours prepare the roux, butter and flour in a pan. Let it cook gently for a while to get rid of the floury taste.
heat buttermilk/breakfast milk (the creamiest you can get) in a pan.
Before it gets to boiling, but is hot, add it slowly to the roux.
Now add a LOAD of the strongest cheddar you can find (grated) to the bechamel
Keep that simmering and stirred till it's nice and thick. Taste it and season with pepper/more cheese if necessary.
layer the lasagne in an ovenproof dish, pour on some bechamel, then add a layer of the ragu (the meat). Tear up fresh basil and sprinkle on the meat.
You can make as many layers as you want, I do about 3 generous lavers repeating the above steps and ending with the rest of the bechamel.
Finally, add more grated cheese liberally to the top, and some grated parmesan.
I'm gonna look through the rest of the thread and find some more ideas - apologies for the lack of measurements, I can't remember them
*edit* hahah, mines definitely the most boring :) I like the idea of balsamic, maybe sausage. I want mozzeralla, but I can just see it being overpowered. Maybe on top?
This is a GREAT post! Love creative thinking.
I had a great lasagna at California Cafe. It was layers of polenta with fall vegetables like zucchini, rutabaga, turnip, etc that must have been sauteed first, and an Italian sausage, and some tomato sauce, but not swimming in it. And cheese of course. It was excellent!
The polenta makes a great alternative to noodles. I used some fresh herbs and mozarella cheese in my polenta and layed in out on a cookie sheet and put it in the fridge to cool and firm up. I made a sauce of spicy sausage, peppers, green and red, leeks, mushrooms and onions. A combination of some fresh tomatoes but also tomato sauce and paste for consistency.
I then cut the noodles in thin strips, similar to noodles and layered it in a greased pan, then a layer of the vegetable and meat mix, then ricotta and parm mixture, then more polenta and another layer. I finished it with the meat veggie mix and then topped with parm and baked. It took around 30-40 minutes until bubbly and heated through. Cut in squares and enjoy.
Our go-to lasagna recipe is a meat-loving feast with lots of ground sirloin and italian pork sausage. The key is to simmer the sauce with a bit of balsamic vinegar for a very long time. This adds a wonderful depth of flavor. I top it with fresh mozzerella and include a mixture of parmesan and romano inside the layers. It takes a bit of work, but you can make a big batch and then eat off of it for a week!
This is really rich but super tasty. It's from Caprial's Cafe...anyone remember that show?
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 shallots, chopped
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup dry white wine
1 pound diced white fish
8 shrimp, peeled and diced
1/2 cup crabmeat
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 shallots, chopped
1 small butb fennel, diced
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
Salt and black pepper, to taste
3 sheets fresh pasta** (About 9 x 11 inches each)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
For the filling: Heat oil in a large skillet until very hot. Add garlic, shallots and onion and saute until you can smell the aroma. Add white wine and boil to reduce until about 1/3 cup is left. Add fish and shrimp. Cook just until the shrimp start to turn pink. Add crabmeat; toss to mix and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
For Sauce: Heat olive oil in a large saucepan until very hot. Add garlic, shallots and fennel and saute until you can smell the aroma. Add wine and boil over high heat until wine is reduced by half. Add cream and, over low to medium heat, reduce the cream by half. Add herbs, salt and pepper and simmer to bring out the flavors of the herbs. Let cool a bit.
To assemble: Lightly grease a 9 x 11-inch baking dish. Place one sheet of pasta on the bottom of the pan. Spread about 1/3 of the sauce on the pasta sheet. Place 1/3 of the filling over the sauce. Top with about 1/3 of the Parmesan. Repeat for two more layers. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Serve hot.
Serves 6. **(If fresh pasta sheets are not available, cook enough lasagna noodles to make 3 layers in your pan.)
I always hated vegetable lasagne until I made the Books for Cooks (English shop) vegetarian lasagne. It is a white lasagne, which means no red sauce, and is delicate tasting and sophisticated. Basically each vegetable gets its own layer (as opposed to being mixed all together), and the pasta sheets are moistened with a light bechamel, and some ricotta. The original recipe has three veg layers: tomato and mozzarella, spinach balls and grilled fennel, but I chop and change depending on the season. Sauteed leeks or roast butternut are good alternatives for example.
For something non traditional:
4 sheets fresh lasagna noodles
1 lb Mascarpone cheese
2 8-oz logs goat cheese
8 egg yolks
1 fresh whipped cream
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1 bag dark chocolate chips
2 cups red wine
1 cup refined sugar
1 box each, raspberries and blueberries
Butter the inside of a lasagna dish or pan. In boiling water, cook lasagna al dente and place in ice bath to stop cooking. Set aside. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
In a small saucepan, bring red wine to a boil and stir in refined sugar. Reduce to a nice light syrup. Cool and add the fruit; refrigerate.
In a mixing bowl, place Mascarpone, goat cheese, eggs, vanilla and sugar. Start mixing together. Add cocoa powder a small amount at a time until the mixture is a nice light brown.
Place a noodle layer on bottom of pan and add a layer of the cheese mixture. Sprinkle top with chocolate chips. Repeat with two more layers. Place last noodle on top and brush and sprinkle with chocolate chips.
Place pan in over for 20 minutes to heat through. Remove and let cool in refrigerator.
To serve, cut into squares, top with berries and whipped cream. Garnish with strawberry if desired. Can even be served slightly warm.
re: Sam Fujisaka
Ha ha... Solanum Sam slides home with the eggplant lasagna.
I do essentially the same. The Italian globe eggplant works well here. I trim the sides of each fruit to produce a peel-less block that fits the Benriner mandoline. (Those exterior pieces are diced and go into the ragu). The schuss of the 1/2 inch slices across the blade is fun. Then salt, blot, bake to dry, and assemble. The rectangles make assembly easier, and the peeling prevents that occasional snagging of a length of skin with the fork.
Sure. Firstly, this is my MIL's recipe and it is usually made in the winter when she has the REAL Radicchio di Treviso readily available (she lives near Treviso). Anyways, she will take her radicchio, cut it length-wise and lightly salt and pepper it, and very lightly oil it (sometimes not at all). She will grill it, then chop it into bite size pieces and put aside. Alternatively, I have seen her just lightly sautee the radicchio in a pan if she doesn't feel like grilling.
Aside, she will get some toasted chopped walnuts ready.
Finally, she will make a bechamel sauce. Basically, she melts butter, adds flour for a roux, then stirs in milk and lets it come to a boil so that it thickens. When it is thick, she will add salt and nutmeg. (I always like to add some white pepper too).
Finally, she assembles. She does not precook her noodles and therefore to compensate, she will maker her bechamel slightly more runny so that the moisture helps to cook the pasta. She laddles some bechamel into the bottom of a casserole, and the does a layer of the following: pasta, bechamel, radiccchio, walnuts. Then she continues layering until the top and sometimes will add some parmiggiano to the top layer. Then she bakes.
There are some soy milks that work ok. Silk curdles now and then for me but never had the problem in the lasagna. Whole foods has a couple of other options that way you could still make a bechemel. I make a pasta dish where I have to do that for a friend who has a problem to milk protein.
This is the recipe my friend gave me to make soy butter. Seemed to work well. I have used it for catering too.
1/2 cup.soymilk, 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice, 1cup canola oil . In a blender or food processor add the soymilk till it thickens a bit, then the lemon and drizzle in the oil. She uses this all the time on her veggies since she already has the milk at home. I am sure you could buy it too. But since I use the milk for the sauce it is just as easy to make it.
Neither ricotta nor cottage cheese are available in Japan. There are several recipes around for tofu substitute for ricotta, but I have used this simple one with great satisfaction:
1 pound firm tofu, cubed and drained
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp seasoned salt or rock salt
Mash with a spoon or potato masher to desired consistency. You won't believe how good it tastes in lasagna.
It has lots of mushrooms and veggies and chicken sausage but I love thin shavings of zucchini for a lighter taste vs the pasta. But you need a steady hand or a mandolin to thin slice. I have cut by hand but well worth it. You can use Italian sausage is you want, but I try to go lighter and use a spicy turkey or chicken sausage, but please feel free to use any meat you enjoy. There are some excellent spicy turkey and chicken sausage out there right now.
4 components: Like any lasagna, tomato sauce, cheese mixture (some extra for toppings and grated and the meat/veggie layer and of course the noodles
5-6 medium tomatoes rough chopped
1 medium onion
3 teaspoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons fresh minced basil
1 teaspoon dried garlic
1/2 cup red wine
a pinch of sugar and a pinch of cayenne
s/p to taste
Pretty generic, sautee onion, garlic in olive oil add the tomatoes, wine seasoning and cook down. At the end I like to puree, food processor or immersion blender, either or. I like a smooth tomato sauce for this.
1 container ricotta 8 oz
1 8 oz cottage cheese NO LOW FAT
About 8 oz fresh mozz cut up in thin slices. I freeze mine and cut with fishing line or string. Can get nice thin slices
3 cups pecorino romano
pinch of nutmeg
Mix 1 cup of the pecorino with the everything and save the fresh mozz and pecorino remaining for a topping and the extra layers of cheesey goodness
3 links of turkey or chicken sausage, casings removed and browned
1 medium onion
10 criminis or button mushrooms thin sliced
1 red pepper and 1 yellow diced
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 large rib celery diced fine
Basically just saute the sausage until brown, remove and drain, then add the garlic, onion, peppers, onions, and everything until 1/2 soft and add the sausage back in. Season with the parsley and any s/p if necessary.
5 medium zucchini thin sliced like noodles lengthwise
OK MAKING LASAGNA. I think everyone knows the drill on this ... Spray pan casserole dish with pam, layer with a little sauce, then zucchini like noodles, then cheese mix then meat and veggie mix then a little grated pecorino and fresh mozz, then sauce then zucchini cheese mix, meat and veggies, grated cheese fresh mozz and sauce. About 4 layers of noodles. I usually end with sauce sometimes noodles, it doesn't have to be specific. I top with grated pecorino and if any extra mozzcheese and bake at 350 for about 45 minutes covered. Uncover the last 10 or so to brown the cheese. Let set a good 10 minutes before serving.
NOTE: Because zucchini is watery ... I lay them out on a paper towel after slicing just for a few minutes. No need to salt since they are so thin.
A great veggie dish which could easily be made vegetarian without the meat. It makes a big pan so have a deep dish!! You could always cut in half if you wanted.
Once I used pancetta instead of sausage, gruyere instead of mozz and parm and another time used olives, mozz and parm and no meat but added spinach so you can really have fun with it. But it pretty basic
6 c. milk
1 c. butter
1 c. white flour
Salt and pepper to taste
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 c. vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 c. onions, chopped
2 lb. spinach, frozen, thawed and drained
3/4 c. chopped fresh parsley
1 lb. ricotta or cottage cheese
2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
2 c. grated Mozzarella cheese
1 pkg. lasagna noodles
Sauce: Heat milk until hot but not boiling. In another pan melt butter. Whisk in flour, cook 3 to 4 minutes, stir constantly. Add milk gradually. Stir until sauce thickens.
Lasagna: Saute garlic and onions in oil until translucent. Stir in spinach and 1/2 cup of parsley. Set aside. Mix rest of parsley, ricotta or cottage cheese, eggs, 2/3 cup Parmesan cheese. Cook noodles al dente. Better yet, don't cook the noodles. Just layer the raw noodles in the pan as you would if they were cooked.
Oil a large pan, layer ingredients in following order. First, 1 1/2 to 2 cups of Bechamel sauce, 1/3 of noodles, half spinach mixture, all of Mozzarella. Next 1 1/2 to 2 cups of sauce, 1/3 of noodles, all the ricotta mixture, the rest of the spinach mixture. Finally, 1 1/2 to 2 cups sauce, remaining noodles, the rest of the sauce. Sprinkle 1 1/3 cup of Parmesan on top.
Bake covered at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Uncover for another 10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow 10 to 15 minutes for lasagna to set before serving.
I have to say that my lasagna, while labor intensive, can make people cry. Here:
Lasagne With Wild Mushrooms, Sausage, Four Cheeses, and Prosciutto
Because this crowd-thrilling lasagne has to bake for only 45 minutes and rest for just 15, you can prepare and assemble it up to an hour before your guests arrive, and put it in the oven during the first round of cocktails. But keep in mind that the sauce needs to be started 3-4 hours before the lasagne is composed.
Unless you really enjoy soaking and scraping and cleaning a lasagne pan, use a disposable “Medium Roaster” aluminum pan, approximately 16” x 11” x 3” (supporting the bottom with a jelly roll pan, of course). The aluminum pan even folds up nicely to store foil-covered leftover lasagne.
This recipe uses “no-boil” lasagne noodles, which rehydrate rather thirstily, so don’t be stingy with the wines.
3 tablespoons good olive oil
3 medium cloves of garlic, minced
3 medium onions, well chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 1/2 lb. sweet Italian sausage, preferably without fennel, casings removed
1 1/2 lb. ground chuck
1 cup whole milk
32 oz. of your favorite bottled tomato sauce (Raos is pretty good; so is Muir Glen with Romano Cheese)
28 oz. can of tomatoes and their juices, squished with your impeccably clean hands (Muir Glen preferred)
14-oz can of diced tomatoes and their liquid (again, preferably Muir Glen)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, if available (never use dried basil; it has no flavor)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons fresh chopped thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 cup dry French white vermouth
1-3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 lb. assorted sliced fresh wild mushrooms, especially shiitakes, chanterelles, and/or criminis
3/4 cup dried porcini mushrooms, soaked for 20 minutes in hot water to cover
Two good pinches of crumbled dried rosemary
1/2 cup Marsala wine
2 lbs. fresh ricotta cheese
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
10-15 grates of fresh nutmeg
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Butter, for greasing the lasagne pan
1 lb. grated Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup crème fraîche
1/2 lb. prosciutto (di Parma, if possible), torn into bite-size slices
1 lb. fresh mozzarella (for topping)
about 3/4 pound of No-Boil Lasagne Noodles (Delverde preferred)
Set a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the 3 tablespoons oil, garlic, and onions, and sweat until the onions are very soft, 10-15 minutes. Remove all but about 4 tablespoons of this mixture and reserve it for the filling.
To the saucepan with the 4 tablespoons of onion mixture, add and brown the sausage and ground chuck, breaking up and stirring with a wooden spoon. Salt the meat to taste. When the last pinkness begins to disappear, drain fat to taste and add the cup of milk. Boil gently until the milk has virtually vanished, about 15 minutes.
Add the remaining sauce ingredients, heat, stirring, and taste carefully. Now simmer the sauce, partially covered, for at least three hours. The mixture should seem a bit soupy as it goes along; add wine if it’s not. The noodles will absorb a lot of liquid.
Now make the filling: First, get those dried porcinis soaking. Place the reserved onion mixture over medium heat in a large deep sauté pan, and “refresh” it with 2-3 tablespoons fresh olive oil. Add sliced fresh mushrooms to the pan, and cook two minutes, stirring, just until they release their liquid.
Remove rehydrated porcinis from warm water, rinse them to remove any grit, and set aside. Pour the water through a very fine sieve into a cup, and pour the liquid into the pan. Chop the porcinis well and turn them into the pan with the rosemary. Cook until the liquid is virtually absorbed, a few minutes.
Add Marsala and let it, too, reduce for a few minutes.
Transfer mixture to a large bowl, add the rest of the filling ingredients (except Jack and mozzarella cheeses and crème fraîche), mix well, and set aside.
Taste the sauce carefully. Adjust seasoning, adding tomato paste, salt, and/or even a jot of sugar, as necessary.
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter an aluminum “medium roaster” pan. Cover the bottom with two ladlefuls of sauce. Lay in a layer of lasagne noodles to fit, spread on about a third of the filling, sprinkle on Jack cheese, dot with crème fraîche, then sauce again. Repeat until everything’s gone, finishing with the last of the sauce. Layer the top with the prosciutto and 1/4” wedges of fresh mozzarella. Sprinkle with oregano, if you wish. The lasagne can be assembled to this point and left to stand at room temperature for an hour before baking.
Bake at 375 for 45 minutes or until nice and bubbly. Let the lasagne rest for 15 minutes before cutting into serving wedges.
Yield: 10 or so servings
re: Tom Steele
re: Tom Steele
Thanks...actually, I was thinking more of prep the day before and then reheating to serve on the day of the party? I do find that traditional lasagnas are pretty tolerant of this sort of treatment and this one looks like it would do fine...maybe a test run will answer the question (and please my husband no end!)
Just three favourites
#1) traditional-still my family's favourite-ove the years I have upgraded from bottled sauce to the real thing,from packaged noodles to fresh, from creamed cottage cheese to ricotta, liberally laced with egg and fresh oregano and parsley and from shredded dried mozzarella to the real deal
#2) exactly the same as above except the noodles are replaced with slightly wilted, large de-veined cabbage leaves: my daughter lives gluten-free and this is "her" lasagna (and actually REALLY good
#3) seafood lasagna: shrimp, scallops, good white fish and UNSMOKED salmon (the smoked salmon version did not work out) finely chopped and gently folded into a bechamel laced with sherry, swiss cheese and nutmeg...emmenthaler topping with a few shrimps for colour and dill for contrast
Now, does moussaka count as lasagna?