Monday, July 12, 2010

Impromptu Lasagna

I've learned that my quarter Italian husband could pretty much eat pasta for any/every meal. So, when I have no creativity left on a weeknight, my go to dish is something related to pasta. In this vein I've also learned that when I make spaghetti sauce that I should make a giant batch so that I can stock my freezer with sauce.

This meal originated at the farmer's market (naturally). The Blue Ridge Dairy comes and sells fresh ricotta and mozzarella (along with a dozen other yummy varieties). So, In passing I noticed the ricotta. My half Italian mother-in-law has mentioned that when making lasagna the ricotta really does have a big impact....I remembered that I had pasta sauce in the freezer and my gorgeous basil on the counter and dried lasagna noodles in the pantry...decision made, ricotta and mozzarella purchased...we were going to do lasagna that week.

It turned out better than I expected. My "good lasagna" takes the better part of a day to make (I make the pasta from scratch--really easy to do--the sauce is what takes a while). The ricotta and fresh basil and mozzarella--this was fantastic!

This is a really rough recipe and I change it all the time so do what you want.
1-2pds Bulk Sweet Italian Sausage--or links w/ casings removed (I use sausage solely because Dan prefers sausage--you can use what you like--a mixture of beef/pork/lamb is what I would use if Dan weren't particular...I like Dan, so I aim to please)
1/2 onion diced (yellow/white/vidalia)
1 shallot or 2 garlic cloves
1 28oz can whole San Marzano tomatoes
1 28oz can San Marzano crushed tomatoes
1/2 stick butter
1/4 cup fresh julienned basil
tomato paste
kosher salt
shaved carrot
Basically, I wing this sauce pending on what I have in the pantry at the time. I saute the sausage with the onion/garlic/shallot--then I add the tomatoes--a little tomato paste--the butter and then taste from there. Mushrooms/Bell Pepper would be nice too, again, it's a mush of what you want. A bit of shaved carrot cuts the acidity of the tomato & I use sugar/salt as needed.
1 container Ricotta (12-16oz)
1 egg
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
1/4 cup fresh basil julienned
I used the "no boil" variety of dried lasagna noodles (I was going for quick & easy weeknight meal here!)--sauce the bottom of a 13x9 pan and start layering with pasta/filling/sliced fresh mozzarella, parm, sauce, pasta, etc. until you reach the top of your pan--then basically cover with your remaining cheese.
Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes covered in foil (put it on a cookie sheet just in case)--then take off the foil and brown the top 15-20 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.

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