Friday, March 03, 2006

Everybody Loves Lasagna

Have you ever met anyone who doesn’t like lasagna? I haven’t. There’s a reason for this. The sight of a bubbling lasagna straight out of the oven with zesty sauce and cheeses oozing over the edge of the pan is enough to make even the most finicky eater drool (not to mention beg for seconds).

I have been making lasagna for years whenever I’m planning on having a large crowd over. I had a Head of the Charles Party once (nobody actually made it to the Regatta) and made 2 lasagnas (among other things). It was a food frenzy. I barely had time to get the lasagna out of the oven before people started slicing into it (which isn’t ideal since lasagna is best if it gets to sit for about 10 minutes after you take it out of the oven). I made it twice in the last week. One for cards night last Thursday and one for board game night on Saturday (people’s evil sides really come out during board games, just a side note). Each night, the lasagna was a hit and each night I packed up leftovers for everybody (something you can’t even look at right then because you are so full but that you are happy to have next time you open the refrigerator and see that all you have is a bottle of ketchup and some butter). What I’m getting at is if you want to please a crowd, go for the lasagna. And serve some garlic bread alongside. It’s easy to make, delicious and a great vehicle for scooping up the extra sauce on the plate.

The following lasagna recipe is an adaptation of my mom’s recipe. Thanks Bea! The garlic bread recipe is just one of those things you make up as you go along. I’ve included a recipe which you can vary depending on your garlic tolerance and your preference for herbs.



1 package of NO BOIL lasagna noodles (you can just lay the noodles in the pan without having to cook them; so much easier).

For the cheese mixture:
2 cups of ricotta cheese
1 cup parmesan cheese
1 egg
1 whole mozzarella, grated (Whole Foods sells great mozzarella from Maplebrook Farm in Westbrook, Vermont) or 2 cups already grated mozzarella

For the sauce:
1/2 lb. ground veal and 1/2 pound ground beef (or you can use beef, ground turkey, whichever you prefer)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 28-oz cans of crushed tomatoes
1 6-oz can of tomato paste
1 onion
3 – 6 cloves garlic, minced (depends how much you like garlic)
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms (I like the brown crimini mushrooms)
1 roasted red pepper (optional – details on how to roast a red pepper are below). If you don’t roast it, you can just chop it up as is and throw it in.
2 tsp. sugar
Pepper to taste.

For the garlic bread:
1 fresh loaf of Italian bread
2 – 4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 - 3 tablespoons of minced chives (fresh if possible)
2 - 3 tablespoons of minced oregano (fresh If possible)
3/4 of a stick of butter at room temperature if possible (easier to work with when it’s soft)

How to:


The roasted red pepper:
Rub olive oil over the red pepper (don’t go crazy, just enough to coat it).
Turn on the gas stove.
Place the pepper right on the flame. Keep an eye on it. Turn as needed with a spatula. When pepper is blackened all over, remove from flame.
Let cool for 10 minutes or so.
Place a plastic grocery store bag or plastic wrap over the pepper and scrape the blackened part off the pepper (this keeps your hands from getting dirty).
Remove the seeds and top of the pepper. Cut the pepper into 1/4 inch – 1/2 inch pieces.
NOTE: You can also roast the pepper in the oven but it takes a little longer. Rub olive oil on pepper, wrap in tin foil, roast at 400 degrees for 20 – 25 minutes.

The meat sauce:
In large non-stick pan, heat 1 tbsp. oil over medium flame.
Sauté onions and garlic until translucent.
Add the oregano. Mix in to release the oils in the herb.
Stir in the ground meat, separating meat with wooden spoon so it’s not all clumped together.
Stir and cook 10 minutes until beef is browned. Add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, basil, 1/2 tsp. salt, 3 tbs. oregano, pepper.
Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally 30 minutes.

The cheese mixture:
In bowl combine ricotta, slightly beaten egg & 3/4 of the parmesan cheese.

The layering process:
In 13x9x2" baking dish spread:
1 1/2 cups meat sauce
1 layer of noodles (overlap them slightly)
1/3 of the mozzarella
2 cups sauce
1/2 cheese mixture
Repeat once. Then top with remaining noodles, sauce, mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Bake in 350 degree oven for 40 - 50 minutes (to make sure it’s done, stick a fork through the lasagna to ensure it’s good and hot inside). Let stand 15 minutes.

I don’t think I need to tell you that lasagna makes the best leftovers. Just reheat at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes.


Chop the butter into 1/4 inch pieces (easier to blend that way).
Add the herbs and garlic and blend with 2 forks, your hands, whatever it takes to make it into a nice paste.
Cut vertical slits into the loaf of bread. Rub the butter into the slits and all over the top.
Place on a cookie sheet or tin foil and bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes (until top is crispy and butter is melted).



Anonymous abt said...

Yes, I was one of the lucky ones who had lasagna twice this past week. (Actually more than that since I brought home leftovers.) This is so good you have a tendency to eat too fast - but don't do it. Pace yourself so you can go for seconds!

3:27 PM  
Anonymous CantCook said...

Jeez - didn't realize your lasagna was that complicated. No wonder it tasted like heaven. Thanks for the leftovers!

3:17 PM  
Blogger Lynne said...

It's really not complicated. Just a lot of ingredients, that's all.

5:01 PM  

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