too much of a good thing is never enough???

right now I should probably be sleeping. I should be covers-to-chin in sleepsville, but I can't stop thinking about lasagna. now, for me, this is quite a shocker. I'm not what you would call a huge fan, especially not when it comes to meat versions. I have been known to make some veggie lasagnas in the past, and while they were good, it's not something I found myself thinking about the next day. The problem I have with this classic dish is that it is (99% of the time) just so dang heavy. It's usually made up of a pound of meat, a pound of cheese, oodles of noodles (wait, why don't I usually like this?), and sadly, it's just not that good. I have to credit a jamie oliver recipe for changing my mind on this one. Somehow, he managed to cram all things good in the world of lasagnadom into this dish, yet still manage to make it seem not overly cheese-laden, and really well balanced. I adapted a little bit for what I had on hand. I also did this in two stages, making the sauce earlier in the day and then when I was done with my nap, I assembled the final dish.
This would be a great weekend dinner to break bread over (bread from LeQuartier, that is!), or you could assemble ahead of time and refrigerate (or freeze) for later.
Lasagna Bolognaise (adapted from j-ol)
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork
1 onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, small dice
drizzles olive oil
1 red chile, de-seeded, de-veined, small dice
handful of fresh basil (stems and leaves separated), leaves picked and stems minced
2 14 0z cans tomatoes
2 tbs tomato paste
healthy splash(s) of vermouth ( in you have the option to leave this out if you want your final product to be lacking the sweet kiss of an apertif:)
salt and pepper
2 tsps dried oregano
lasagna noodles (I used 1 box of the flat, barilla brand)
1.5 cups ricotta cheese
.5 cups sour cream
2 oz. grated parmesan.
tomato slices
for sauce bolognaise (can be made ahead of time and frizzled, or even freezled. also, would be great over your favorite pasta)
heat a saute pan with olive oil over med. heat, when oil shimmers, add onion, bell pepper, garlic, red chile, basil stems and saute until just starting to get some color. season with a little salt,pepper, and oregano and then add your meat (you could just use beef or pork, but I thought the combo was a really good...combo) and saute until almost cooked through, stirring frequently. add some serious splashes of vermouth and scrape up the yum yums from the bottom of the pan, now, add your tomatoes, tom. paste, half of your basil leaves (you can cut/chiff them if you want, or just leave them whole)and fill up one of the cans with water and add that too. and now we reduce. You want this to end up like a thick pasta sauce. if you don't reduce enough, you'll get a watery lasagna, and no one, I mean NO ONE, likes a watery lasagna. once it is to your liking, let cool and either assemble, or store for later.
assemblage: get a pot of salted water boiling and add the lasagna noodles, just for a couple of minutes to slightly soften them, drain, and drizzle with olive oil to prevent them sticking together. grate your cheese, set aside, and then combine the ricotta and sour cream. I used a 9x13 pan for this and actually ended up a little short on the sauce, so I think it was originally meant for a smaller dish, so keep in mind that you need to either make more bolognaise, or you'll have to improvise, yay! if you use the pan I did, here's what you do: ad about half your sauce into the bottom of the pan, don't be scared. then add a layer of noodles (I did 4 overlapping each other). now, add your ricotta mixture(try to use 1/3) and spread to cover said noodles, sprinkle 1/3 of your parm over the ricotta and then add another layer of noodles. add the rest of your meat sauce, a layer of noodles, a second layer of the ricotta mix, and another sprinkle of parm. one more layer of noodles, then add the rest of the ricotta mixture. now lay some thin slices of tomato across the top and tear some basil leaves and scatter them over the tomatoes like your the business (because, kind of are. seriously peeps, you just made a lasagna people are going to gossip about...hard). sprinkle with the rest of parm, cover with foil. you can now either bake (375 for 20 minutes, uncover and then bake for an additional 35 minutes until golden and bubbling (the lasagna, not your ego).
ps. if you be freezing this, let it come to temp before you bake it, you could ruin your pan, and the dinner inside it:(
DISH recommends: jamie olivers food revolution. gets used a lot around these parts...


piccolinadesigns said...

What? A cheese light version? My Nana would give you the finger shake, Steven. :P

But it seriously sounds delish. Another one to add to my 'Honey do' list.

BTW- I am still pouting about the stroganoff text message. ;)

Anonymous said...

Okay okay, I loved your lasagna.... BUT.... I still have to rate my mom's (The Chuckster's) #1. It's a sentimental thing, but it's also really cheesy.... :)