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In the Kitchen With .. Lasagna
updated: Dec 05, 2009, 9:00 AM
By the dedicated staff of edhat.com
It's so nice to be able to catch up with friends and enjoy a meal together at holiday time. Last weekend we had two other couples over for dinner and really enjoyed ourselves.
I have one no-fail, guaranteed success dish that is a best bet for last minute entertaining or taking to a potluck. It's perfect for a dinner party because you can make it ahead, saving yourself a lot of work before your guests arrive.
Yes, it's lasagna.
Over the years I've modified the recipe that I started with so many times that it's now stored only in my head. But since my friends liked it so much last Saturday, I thought I would write it down for you.
1 medium onion
4 gloves garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 medium carrots, sliced crosswise into small discs
1 package brown/Crimini mushrooms
Cook all of the above on the stovetop, seasoning with salt and pepper. Add 2 teaspoons of dried basil or a quarter cup chopped fresh basil. Add one teaspoon oregano.
Add 1 pound ground turkey or beef, cook through.
Add homemade tomato sauce, or one large can of prepared marinara and 2 tablespoons tomato paste.
1 container fresh ricotta
3-4 cups chopped fresh spinach
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
When sauce is done and cool, layer starting with red sauce, then shredded mozzarella cheese, noodles, cheese filling, more red sauce, mozzarella, noodles, cheese filling, and finish with red sauce on top. Sprinkle the top with mozzarella and parmesan. Store in fridge for up to 12 hours or freeze. Bake covered at 375 for 45 minutes, removing cover for last 10 minutes to brown the cheese topping.
For the first time, I used no-boil lasagna noodles last weekend and they were great. It took one step out of the assembly process, and there was no burning of the fingers while pulling the hot noodles from the strainer.
Here's a picture of the dish on the table... apologies for the cell phone photo, I was having such a good time that I forgot to get my camera out.
This also makes the easiest way for others to contribute. Ask friends to bring a salad, bread, wine and dessert, and you are set for a great evening of food and friendship.
As a bonus to this column we have another lasagna recipe from another member of the dedicated staff... very similar to the above, except that it incorporates cottage cheese.
• 1 box lasagna noodles (I like the ones you don't have to boil)
• 16 oz cottage cheese
• 16 oz ricotta cheese
• 1 lb mozzarella cheese - grated (set aside enough to sprinkle on top)
• 4 cups pasta sauce (you can use homemade or a 24 oz jar of Prego)
• 1 lb ground chicken or other ground meat (optional)
• 8 oz sliced mushrooms
• 2 cups chopped spinach
Heat oven to 375 º F
In a medium bowl, mix cottage and ricotta cheeses.
Sauté spinach and sliced mushrooms with a little salt, pepper, garlic and a splash of red wine. Set aside.
Brown meat, then add pasta sauce. Stir until fully mixed. Add sautéed vegetables.
Put a little of the sauce on the bottom of a 13x9x2 baking pan. Line the bottom with a layer of the lasagna noodles (about 4). Add a layer of the cheese mixture, then a layer of the sauce mixture, then a layer of grated mozzarella. Repeat for each layer, finishing the top layer with sauce and the remaining mozzarella cheese. Bake covered for about 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking for another 30 minutes (note: if you are using boiled noodles, cooking time will be less - check the pasta box).
Enjoy... and share your favorite lasagna recipes in the comments section!
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