Lasagna. Sometimes, you just need a hearty dish of warm Italian goodness. So, here I’ve put together 3 guilt-free recipes. The opinions were varied and my taste testers liked them all but no one version was the clear winner. I think it’s because food and the experience of food is so personal.
I made one sauce and the only variation was the “noodle” itself. I made a triple recipe but I will provide ingredients for a single basic sized 12” x 16” x 3.5” in deep.
2 Tbs butter and olive oil each
2lbs ground beef (I used chuck but have to remove some fat before I assemble the lasagna
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 cups sliced button mushrooms or your favorite mushroom
1 cup red vermouth, red wine (Cab/Sauv) or Sherry
6 cups of your favorite tomato sauce.
3 cups of V-8
2 Tbs Italian seasoning or oregano, sage, rosemary and thyme
1 tsp ground clove
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 or 3 bay leaves
3 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
A whole bulb of garlic, minced
S & P
1 tsp or to taste Tabasco
1 tsp or to taste red chili flakes
Making the Sauce is straightforward, cooking and seasoning at each stage. It’s so delicious. Begin with your favorite large pot, I love my dutch oven, I’ve had it for 24 years. Dutch ovens only like a heat up to medium or they might crack. So on medium heat toss in your butter and olive oil and sauté your mushrooms, then add your mirepoix (celery, onion and carrot,) add your meat and brown, add your tomato sauce, add your V-8, stirring after each ingredient addition. Now simmer and reduce. Add your seasoning, bay leaves, garlic, tabasco and chili flakes. If you don’t like spicy adjust the chili flakes or omit for a sweeter result.
When sauce has reduced remove the bay leaves you have added. It’s important to count how many you pour in so you can retrieve the equal number. Just sayin’, from me to you.
2.5 cups ricotta
1 tbsp garlic powder
3 tbsp parmesan
2 cups wilted or frozen spinach that has been properly drained
JUST A NOTE HERE, WATER MAKES LASAGNA SOGGY, SOUPY AND ALL THE THINGS LASAGNA SHOULDN’T BE. SO DON’T SKIP REDUCING THE SAUCE UNTIL IT’S THICK OR BAKING THE ZUCCHINI OR EGGPLANT OR DRAINING THE SPINACH.
Heat oven to 400 and roast 1/4″ thick slices of eggplant, that have been seasoned and doused in olive oil, for 20 minutes. Turn half way through cooking. I used a spatula.
Heat oven to 350 and roast 1/4″ thick slices of zucchini, that have been seasoned and doused in olive oil, for 20 minutes. Turn half way through cooking.
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
¾ cup almond flour
3 tbs cream cheese
3 cups grated mozzarella for the top
1 cup grated parmesan
In a microwave proof bowl heat in microwave for 90 seconds your Mozzarella and cream cheese. add the rest of the ingredients, stir and spread the dough evenly over a parchment covered cookie sheet. Bake at 400 for 10 minutes or until just turning gold. Do not overcook or it will be dry.
Now you’re ready to assemble which ever casserole you have decided to make. I’d love to hear how yours turned out.
Spread a scoop of sauce on the bottom and layer your “noodle”, more sauce, and your ricotta layer on that, more “noodle”, more sauce and & sprinkle some extra parmesan here, more “noodle” and then your grated Mozzarella.
Bake at 350F for about an hour but you can test it’s doneness by inserting a fork in the center and feeling it or looking for signs it’s heated through the center. Sometimes the cheese can brown faster than the casserole is heated through and so I like to tent some foil on top. It’s important to let the casserole sit for 20 minutes to let it set. This lets you serve a nice piece of lasagna that doesn’t fall over, provided you’ve taken the steps necessary to remove the extra liquid.
A little parsley garnish is always pretty.