Saturday, December 24, 2016

Saturdays In Indy: Lasagna!!


Last month I gave you my Grandma's eggplant parmesan recipe. Today, I give you LASAGNE!!

This dish has many variations now, including a veggie option, but I still make it with Italian sausage and ground beef. It's easy to modify, so let's dive right in!

What you will need:

*A pot large enough to boil plenty of pasta.
*A large frying pan.
*A glass or stone (Pampered Chef) 9 X 12 baking dish.
*One large bowl.
*A colander to drain the pasta.
*Two large boxes of lasagna noodles.
*Two eggs.
*Olive oil, salt, oregano, garlic salt or garlic cloves, pepper, basil, and parsley.
*Ricotta cheese - LOTS of it. Some recipes use cottage or other cheeses, but we always made it with Ricotta. Using a different cheese will change the taste.
*Spaghetti sauce. A large jar. LARGE. Doesn't matter what brand you use or what's in it. It will alter the taste of the dish depending on what's in the sauce, but experiment. Have fun. This is the step where I save time. Grandma made her sauce, of course, and I know how to as well, but it's an all-day thing. I use Prego sauce with no meat, since I'll be adding meat to it for this dish.
*Romano/Parmesan cheese - the kind you sprinkle on top of things. A large container will do.
*A large bag of shredded Mozzarella cheese. Yes, you can use the low fat stuff, but it won't taste the same.

The steps:

Chop up your onion so it's ready for the meat mixture. Open the cheeses and meat. You want everything ready before you begin.

I always boil my lasagna noodles. You can bake this dish without boiling them first, but to me the taste isn't the same. When boiling pasta, add a pinch of salt and a drop of olive oil. The oil keeps it from sticking. Boil just until the foam rises up and then lower the heat. The rule is, when it sticks to the wall, it's done, but you don't have to toss it at the wall to know when it's done. It takes on a different sheen once it's cooked enough. Practice watching for this and you'll have perfect pasta every time. For the purposes of this dish, since the noodles will bake anyway, it won't hurt them if you take the pasta off the heat early.

While the pasta is boiling, pour a small amount of olive oil into the frying pan and add your sausage and beef. The idea is simply to brown the meat, so it won't need to cook for a long time. You can add fresh garlic at this stage, as well as the onion. I also add salt and pepper to the meat. Once it's brown, your noodles should be done.

Remove the frying pan from the heat and drain your noodles. You can let them sit in the colander while you finish. Rinse out the pot because you can use it to make the meat and sauce mixture.

Mix the sauce and browned meat, plus basil, oregano, parsley, and more salt or pepper to taste. Let it simmer - not boil - while you're making the cheese mixture. The idea is simply to allow the ingredients to mix until the consistency resembles a chunky sauce. It's going to bake anyway, so you don't need to cook it for a long time.

Let the noodles continue to drain and the sauce simmer while you prepare the cheese mixture. At this point, you can also preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

For the cheese mixture, combine the eggs, Ricotta, one cup of the Mozzarella, and one cup of the sprinkle cheese, plus parsley. Use a wooden spoon to thoroughly mix it together. The consistency will be thick. You can add oregano and basil to this mix if you like, but because you have raw eggs in this one, I'd be careful tasting it. There should be plenty of spices in the meat/sauce mix so the exact amount here isn't as important.

For the layers in the baking dish, I start with noodles on the bottom. You want a layer to cover the bottom, but not noodles stacked on top of each other. Then layer the meat/sauce mixture over the noodles, and then the cheese mixture on top of that.

Keep layering until you're out of ingredients. You should easily have several layers. On top of them, use the rest of the Mozzarella and sprinkle cheese.

Bake covered with foil in a 375 degree oven about 20 minutes. Then remove the foil and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes at the same temperature. The test is when you stick a fork into the middle and it's no longer cold.

The dish is best served warm.

*****

Good luck!! Let me know how it turns out, or if you have any questions!

Until next week, enjoy your Saturday!


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