I tried out a new recipe from the Reluctant Gourmet.com on the Internet at lunch today, with some modifications (I added some shrimp and 1 whole onion chopped)…using the delicious chunky ham block from the local supermarket, and some basil sauce that I always save from pizza days. It turned how delicious, the family said, but I had lasagna sheets left over, and was a little short on the tomato sauce, so have to make a note of that. Also the top sheet of lasagna was a bit drier and crispier than the other sheets below, which was in part due to the need for a whole lot more thicker covering of tomato pasta sauce and cheese. Otherwise, it was near perfect.
Basic recipe “Lasagna – One Two Three” for three reasons.
- It’s as easy as one-two-three to make.
- It’s just as easy to make three at a time so you can eat one now and freeze the other two for another time.
- It is delicious!
The Most Basic Lasagna You Can Make
This recipe is for the most basic lasagna you can make. This should be your starting point and you would add on from here. For example, this recipe calls for a basic tomato sauce. A basic tomato sauce can range from a can of Hunts Tomato Sauce to my Basic Tomato Sauce. How about a meat sauce with beef, pork, veal or a combination of all three? Or maybe you prefer a vegetarian lasagna like Spinach & Roasted Pepper Lasagna. The number of variations is endless and makes for another “clean out your fridge” recipes.
The lasagna noodles can be dried, fresh, or the no boil variety. I prefer the no boil type because it reduces the preparation time and with two kids, anything to save time and not lose quality is a bonus. If you can find fresh mozzarella cheese and can afford it, well it will only add to the flavor.
Same with the Parmesan cheese. Freshly grated is better than the processed stuff you can buy at the supermarket. As with any recipe, the better the ingredients the better the outcome, but this is a dish you can cheat a little. If you make a great sauce and can’t find fresh mozzarella, don’t worry about it. If you used canned sauce but have some freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano the lasagna will come out fine.
How can it not with all the wonderful ingredients that go into this dish?
You will want to find three of those square aluminum disposable pans approximately 8x8x2 inch in size. Makes storing and cleaning a breeze.
Cooking Technique – Baking
Makes 3 small lasagnas
- 4 cups of tomato or meat sauce, your choice
- 1 – 1 1/2 pounds lasagna noodles
- 3 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
- 32 oz. ricotta cheese
- 2 1/2 lb. Mozzarella cheese
- A pinch of dried oregano, thyme, and basil
- salt & pepper, to taste
- Olive oil to coat the pans
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and if you are using standard lasagna noodles, bring a pot of water to boil to cook them.
HOW TO MAKE AT HOME
In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, parmesan cheese, and ricotta cheese and season with salt, pepper, and spices.
Lightly coat the bottom of each pan with oil ( I like to use spray olive oil for this job) and then add a little sauce to coat the bottoms. This is especially important if you are using the no-boil noodles because the sauce will help them cook.
There are no hard and fast rules about the order you add ingredients, but it’s basically adding a layer of pasta, some of the ricotta cheese mixture, more sauce, another layer of pasta, some mozzarella cheese, some more ricotta cheese mixture, more sauce and so on until you run out of ingredients.
The ingredients will settle a little bit when you bake the lasagna so build right to the top. Make sure you finish with sauce and if you have any left over, save it for when you are serving.
Cover each pan with some aluminum foil and bake for about 35 to 45 minutes until the center of the lasagna is hot, the cheese is melted, the edges are crisp, and your kitchen smells heavenly.
If you decide to eat the lasagna that day, make sure to let it sit for a least 15 minutes to let the flavors meld. Enjoy!
|For the lasagna:
||For the sauce: makes about 4 cups
Making any kind of lasagna is all about assembly. You get all your ingredients together, line them up, and then start building your masterpiece. Really doesn’t matter what you add to it as long as there is sheets of pasta, cheese and a sauce. Everything else is up to you.
For this recipe, you want to remove the stems and wash spinach thoroughly. You can measure out the cheeses, but I don’t think it will hold you back if you wait until you need them. If you are using whole mozzarella rather than the pre grate packaged type, make sure you grate it before starting.
For the sauce, you will want to finely chop the garlic and onion and coarsely chop the canned tomatoes. As an alternative, you can always buy crushed or dice canned tomatoes. Would fresh tomatoes be better? You bet and I find when I’m making lasagna, they usually aren’t around so that’s why I have canned tomatoes in this recipe.
HOW TO MAKE AT HOME
How to make Spinach & Roasted Pepper Lasagna at home:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. and bring an 8-quart pot of water to boil. Add the lasagna noodles one at a time and cook until tender but not so soft that they fall apart. When the noodles are cooked, drain, immerse in cold water, and lay out flat on a clean dishtowel.
Add spinach and a bit of water to a pot, bring to boil and cook until tender, about 3-5 minutes. Be careful not to burn the spinach. Drain, cool, and squeeze out excess moisture. Using a fork beat cream cheese until smooth, then mix with ricotta, 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, and egg until will blended. Season with salt and pepper.
To assemble, spread a little tomato sauce on the bottom of your 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Those aluminum ones you buy at the supermarket work great too. Cover with a layer of noodles making sure to overlap the edges a little. Add a little more sauce and add some of the cheese mix, spinach, roasted peppers, and mozzarella. Add another layer of noodles and repeat the process by adding sauce, cheese mix, spinach, peppers, and mozzarella. Finish off by adding more noodles, sauce, remaining Parmesan cheese, and the rest of the mozzarella.
Bake uncovered in the preheated oven for 25 minutes. Add a layer of aluminum foil and bake another 10 minutes. Remove lasagna from oven and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
If you don’t have a jar of roasted peppers in your pantry, be creative. Try substituting other ingredients like onions, zucchini, squash, or even mushrooms. You can easily turn this into a non-vegetarian dish by adding ground beef or pork that will definitely add more flavor. Did I say “Pork”? Sorry Babe.
How to make sauce at home:
Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil for 3-5 minutes. Add basil, tomatoes, sugar, salt & pepper. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. Taste for seasoning.
See also the Basic Tomato Sauce recipe