Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Happiness is...LASAGNA!

Here's one of my new coworkers on the home shift. My other coworker is more nocturnal, but this guy keeps me on a strict schedule. It's impossible to enjoy coffee and the paper when someone is sitting in the middle of the paper. (That's right, I just subscribed to a print paper - it seems safer for my laptop - baby can spit up on the paper no problem, but not on the laptop!).

And, here, as promised, is the Lasagna that my mum makes - if any of you are from New England, it's the recipe from the Prince Lasagna noodle box (there was actually a Prince factory in the North End a long time ago.). This recipe is very amenable to variation, so you can get really creative with the sauce and cheese. It also freezes and reheats like a dream. I know a lot of people assemble the lasagna, then freeze it to cook it later, but I like to cook mine first, because then you just need to defrost and microwave. It's my standard present to people with babies, because one pan will feed two grownups for at least 3 meals, and if you package it in individual Tupperware, your friends can decide exactly how they want to use it - and can freeze some for later if they have a lot of other casseroles.
Classic North End Lasagna
1 lb lasagna noodles (I use the no boil ones - they save SO much time and you can get them at any grocery store - though Trader Joe's makes them and sells them very cheaply)
1 clove garlic
1 TBS dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt (you may not need it depending on how salty your cheeses are)
1/2 cup dry white or red wine
1 26 oz jar tomato sauce
1 lb ground beef - not super low fat (per my mother the lower fat meat gets too dry in the sauce, but I think if you're careful not to overcook it, lean beef or a little turkey would be ok)
1 15/16 oz carton of ricotta cheese - I think whole fat works better
2 eggs
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, or Romano or mixture
2 TBS chopped fresh Italian parsley
4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (or you can cut it into thin slices) This is about a pound.
1/4 tsp pepper (or more if you like)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If you are cooking lasagna noodles, do that first and then let drain in the colander while you construct the lasagna.
  2. In large skillet over medium heat, brown the meat and pour off some of the fat (don't pour the fat off if you are using lower fat meat). Add garlic and oregano with wine (you could also use beef broth if you don't cook with wine) and cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Stir in pasta sauce and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, shredded Parmesan, eggs, parsley and pepper. You can add in some drained chopped frozen spinach (defrosted) and I added some defrosted artichoke hearts this last time. Add a little bit more ricotta if you are adding lots of veggies.
  5. In a large 13 x 9 baking dish, spread a generous layer of the sauce (this helps make the pan easier to clean) and top with a layer of lasagna strips. Then do a layer of ricotta mixture with mozzarella. Layer the noodles over the ricotta/mozzarella layer, and continue as such until you use up all the ingredients. The top layer should be sauce (and use a lot because it sinks down to keep all the layers moist. Finish with a layer of mozzarella or Parmesan. Cover tightly with tinfoil and bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly. I generally need more like 35 minutes. Remove the tinfoil and cook for an additional 5 minutes to let the top brown (you can just cook uncovered too - it turns out fine).
  6. Let the lasagna stand for at least 10 minutes before serving - 15-20 should leave it plenty hot and gives the layers time to set up.
  7. If you're freezing this, let it cool completely before cutting up.

1 comment:

  1. mmm...boston is my favorite city ever {too bad i don't do cold weather} and i ate in the north end lots when i was up there for business in january. i heart lasagna so i will be trying this soon!