|Lasagne plated, before dollop of sauce and extra basil leaves|
Monday, July 30, 2012
Sunday Dinner: Lasagne
This week I asked Wes—who’s off to college (second year—at the University of North Carolina in Asheville)—what he would like for his last family Sunday dinner before he heads down south… His reply? Lasagne. Turns out, many in my Sunday dinner crowd are also fans—despite the timing (summer doesn’t usually “say” lasagne to me…)
But how could I resist my son’s request?
So, after spending a busy Sunday taking care of a variety of errands (hard to do all when Saturday is a work day!), I started my sauce (first step in lasagne making) and then put it all together. Here’s the recipe I’ve used for years. I vary some bits, time to time. But basically what varies more now is the sauce I serve with it. I traditionally make this on Christmas Day (that holiday totally “says” lasagne to me!) with two sauces: one meat, one veggie. But today, in honor of my vegetarian son (and the fact that my dad ate steak last night!), I made the sauce sans meat… And also, because of time constraints, I didn’t seek out the homemade lasagne noodles (always a first choice!); instead I used the Barilla non-boil noodles. The results? Big accolades from all! By the way, we also enjoyed sides of baby arrugula and watermelon salad, and sautéed yellow squash.
Serves 12 to 15
1/4 cup olive oil
2 crushed garlic cloves
2 medium red onions
1/2 cup red wine
3 twenty-eight ounce cans crushed tomatoes
2 cups chopped cherry or your favorite ripe tomatoes
2 six-ounce cans tomato paste
15 fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves, coarsely chopped
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
2 fifteen-ounce containers ricotta cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino-Romano cheese
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
30 (about!) fresh lasagne noodles (you don’t need to boil them…) or boxes non-boil lasagne noodles
2 pounds mozzarella cheese (fresh is ideal…), sliced thin
Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and red onions and sauté until soft. Add the wine, and cook until it’s absorbed, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, about 5 basil leaves—chopped—and the oregano leaves. Cover and simmer over medium heat, stirring from time to time, for about an hour. (You can prepare this up to 3 days before.) Add salt and pepper to taste.
Meanwhile, make the ricotta mixture: combine the ricotta, grated Parmesan or Pecorino-Romano, eggs, and parsley. Set aside.
Heat the oven to 350°F. Choose two baking pans for your lasagne, and add about 1/2 cup of sauce to the bottom of each of them. Arrange slightly overlapping layers of noodles to “blanket” the bottom of the dishes ( do both at the same time--). Dot the noodles with the ricotta mixture, and then spread it out so have a light layer atop the noodles. Add a layer of mozzarella, and another of sauce. Add another layer of the lasagne noodles and repeat. Then add a final layer, top with sauce and a
single layer of the remaining mozzarella.
Bake until the cheese is melted and mixture is bubbly, about 50 minutes. (You can partially bake, and then finish before serving.) Let sit for about 15 minutes after baking prior to serving. Serve with an additional dollop of sauce and fresh basil leaves—as desired—and also fresh-grated Parmesan or Pecorino-Romano.