Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Easy Lasagna

Steven's Italian grandma taught be how to make Italian lasagna the way her family has been making it for years. Its quite a process and sometimes you just want something a little different and simpler...yet with amazing flavor. I was flipping through Thomas Keller's "French Laundry" cookbook and came across their staff lasagna recipe.

Staff meals are simple meals the chef of a restaurant makes for their crew around 3 or 4pm before the nights service begins. These meals have to be easy enough to whip up quickly without impeding on the restaurants service, but has to be packed full of flavor. I thought I would give it a try

Here's what you will need:
Olive oil
1 1/2 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/2 cup tomato paste
8 cups peeled tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped oregano
2 tablespoon basil
1 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
3 eggs
1/2 cup parsley
1 pound lasagna noodles
1/2 pound mozzarella cheese
salt and pepper

For the filling:
Combine Ricotta, eggs, parsley and a dash of salt and pepper. Whisk till combined. Cover and refrigerate.

For the sauce:
In a large pot, heat a tablespoon of olive oil. Add onions and garlic and cook about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and stir frequently till turns oragnish...about 10 minutes. Add tomatoes and stir. Let simmer on low for about and hour to let the flavors melt together. Stir frequently to make sure the bottom of the pot doesn't brown. When the sauce is done, it should be thick, chunky, and reduced down a little. Add oregano and basil and let cool to room temperature. 

Cook your lasagna noodles as specified on the box and allow to cool slightly. 

To assemble:
Spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of your 9 by 13 baking pan. This will help prevent your noodles from sticking. Lay down some noodles, slightly overlapping. I cut some noodles in half to make the perfect size to cover the dish. 
Spread some sauce over the noodles paying attention to the edges so they don't burn and stay moist. 

Top with your ricotta cheese mixture. Repeat another layer on noodles, then sauce then the remaining ricotta mixture. Add one more layer of noodles, sauce, then top with grated mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. 

Put in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes or until mozzarella is golden brown. 

I liked this recipe because it was pretty easy to make. I feel like Steven's granny's recipe has more flavor to it and is more moist, but this was a hit and even she liked it when I served it. 

For a traditional Italian feast, why not serve it with a salad and my minestrone soup?

Bon Appetit! 

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