Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Growing up I loved my moms lasagna. And up until yesterday it was the lasagna I made. She started making this back in the day when we were kids and ate Prego out of the jar like it was the best thing we'd ever eaten. Hence, the lasagna is made by mixing Prego, cottage cheese and hamburger together and layering it between lasagna noodles and topping with mozzarella cheese. Don't get me wrong, it is a delicious recipe. But I had been wanting to try a more sophisticated versions of lasagna and figured my few blog readers deserved that. I had the best time creating, it's not often I just go off and create my own recipe.
I started with my pasta sauce, half a recipe. I used one onion and four or five cloves of garlic that I minced really fine in one of those mini chopper things. I didn't want chunky onions in my lasagna like I do in my pasta sauce. I cooked those in a bit of olive oil, saving a tablespoon out to cook with the pound and a half of hamburger.
To the onions and garlic I added two cans of Italian stewed tomatoes and one can of whole tomatoes. I chopped up the tomatoes a bit so they weren't quite as whole. I used the mini chopper and use the scissors to cut a few more in the pan. Mean while I cooked the hamburger and onions until no longer pink, and then trained it of all the grease. (My freshman year of college this boy offered to make me and my roommates lasagna and he did not drain the hamburger grease and our lasagna was swimming in grease. Not good, so we'll drain the grease.) I added the hamburger to the tomatoes and added two tablespoons of basil and parsley and 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes. Also about two tablespoons of honey. The only thing Brian and I thought could be improved is maybe a little bit saucier. Next time I think I'll add a can of tomato sauce too.
I simmered the mixture for about 45 minutes while I cooked the noodles and mixed up the cheese mix. I combined 30 ounces of ricotta with about 1/2 cup parmesan cheese and 1/2 cup cooked spinach. I was looking at recipes online and a lot of them put a beaten egg or two in the cheese mixture, so I added one of those. I'm sure it would be fine without. Probably some sort of binding agent.
Now it's time to layer. I used a baking dish a little larger than a 9 x 13. Start with a little sauce on the bottom, then lay down your noodles, then half the cheese mixture, then half the meat sauce mixture, and then a layer of mozzarella cheese and repeat. It is a nice hardly pan full of deliciousness. Cook it about 45 minutes, when you can see the sauce boiling in the pan. The important part about cooking lasagna, I've learned, is to let it sit about 20 minutes. If you don't, when you try to serve it, it's a big ol mess. The sauce slips out from between the noodles, it's not pretty.
So there you have it. My new and improved lasagna recipe. The old one served me well for so many years, thanks mom. It really was the inspiration for my new recipe!
In sauce pan:
1 onion, finely chopped
5 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cans of stewed tomatoes, Italian style
I can of whole tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
2 Tablespoons parsley
2 Tablespoons basil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon salt
Simmer for 45 minutes
In frying pan, brown 1.5 pounds of hamburger with a few onions, add to tomato sauce
In bowl combine:
30 oz. ricotta cheese
1/2 parmesan cheese
1/2 cooked (or defrosted frozen) spinach
pinch of salt
1 beaten egg
Boil 10 oz. lasagna noodles
1 pound of mozzarella cheese, shredded or in slices
put a small amount of red sauce on the bottom of the pan. Layer the noodles across the pan, put one half of the ricotta mixture on top, spread around. Next layer one half of the meat and sauce mixture. Next, make a layer of mozzarella cheese. Repeat all layers.
Cook at 350 for 45 minutes until bubbly. Optional: (Turn on broiler at end to brown the top.) Let stand 20 minutes before serving.