Friday, July 15, 2011
My family loves pasta, any kind of pasta. I make lasagna when I have lots of time on hand. I make my meat sauce which is slow-cooked for hours. This meat sauce is the secret of the best lasagna. Vegetarians could use Nutrela soy granules in place of meat but to me, they don't bind together that well in sauce form. Maybe some sort of beans would help there.
1 can crushed tomatoes(32 oz)
1 can tomato paste(6 oz)
1 big onion, finely chopped
1-2 stalks of celery, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
4-5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 whole cinnamon stick
2-3 bay leaves
1 lb. ground meat
1/4 cup olive oil
A handful of fresh basil, oregano, rosemary-chopped(or dried Italian seasoning about a tablespoon)
1 package noodles
1 container ricotta cheese(10 oz)
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup freshly shredded parmesan cheese
For sauce: brown the meat, set aside. Heat up the oil. Add chopped onion, celery, carrot and garlic and cook till onion is translucent. Now add tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, cinnamon stick, bay leaves and meat. Throw in herbs and place the pot on the back burner for at least 2-3 hours to simmer. Uncover and stir from time to time. Add water if it sticks on the bottom of the pot. If this is made a day ahead, even better. Cook it for a few more hours and refrigerate.
Boil the water in a large pot. When it comes to rolling boil, add salt and noodles. Cook for about 2 minutes less than the package directions have asked for to get it ultra al-dente! While pasta is cooking, mix ricotta cheese with egg, set aside.
In 13X9 ovenproof casserole, pour 1/2 cup of sauce. Arrange 3 noodles side by side. Spread 3rd of the ricotta mix, 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese. Repeat the layers, topping it off with sauce. Now sprinkle with the rest of the mozzarella and parmesan cheeses.
Cover with aluminum foil and bake in hot oven(400° F) for about 30 minutes. Remove the foil and cook for 10 or so more minutes till the cheese is golden and bubbly. Pull out of the oven and set aside for at least 15 minutes to get nice and even pieces. Enjoy!
I also make Veggie Lasagna with Spinach and Ricotta cheese. Below is the picture.