Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Few Thoughts About Lasagna

Out of necessity, and perhaps a little gluttony, I decided to make a lasagna. I say “a” lasagna, despite the improper grammar, because whenever you make a lasagna, it is a behemoth. It’s a commitment. It’s renting the use of your entire 9 x 13 baking dish for the next three-to-five days.

“Necessity” because it lasts about three-to-five days, and anything I can take to work and reheat for lunch is better for my finance-induced-insomnia than pricey NYC take-out lunches.

“Gluttony” for obvious reasons. It’s about eight pounds of cheese and noodles.

Here’s something about me: I love reading the funny pages. I’m a nerd for cartoons. One of my favorite characters of all time, for as long as I can remember, is Garfield. That cat who loves to sleep and eat. Garfield the Cat is a character I can relate to. His favorite food is lasagna, which he always eats while it’s still hot, in one big bite. Jon, Garfield’s owner, turns his back for one second, and the whole lasagna is gone and Garfield’s cheeks have suddenly quadrupled in size.

I think, given the opportunity, my pugs would do the exact same thing. Although, this is the real world, and they would probably need me to turn my back for at least 10 seconds. Then we’d inevitably have one of our little impromptu visits with our friends at the vet’s office.

At some point in my thought process, I realized that I have no idea how to make a lasagna. In my mind I’m thinking, how hard can it really be? You just layer stuff and bake it, right? Actually, that is right. That’s pretty much all there is to a basic lasagna. It’s one of those dishes that once you do it a couple of times, you can put it in your back pocket and make it over and over in different ways.

Here’s the recipe for the lasagna I made. It was really good. Sorry I didn’t take a picture, but it just looked like a heaping pile of noodles and cheese when it came out of the oven (shocking), and I really don’t have a fancy enough camera to make a heaping pile of noodles and cheese look appetizing via digital files posted on this page. You’ll have to take my word on this one.

Recipe for Lasagna with Pork, Basil and Fresh Ricotta:
  • An 8 oz. package of lasagna noodles, boiled (or no-boil version, whatever you prefer)
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, rinsed clean
  • 1 lb of fresh ricotta cheese
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 4 cups grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 3 cups of your favorite tomato sauce (or you can make it homemade, just use your judgement on what you add to it)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • Olive oil

Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Heat a small amount of oil in a large pot over medium heat, and saute the onions until translucent. Add the pork, making sure to break up the meat. Cook until browned, and then add the wine. Stir in the sauce. Bring to a simmer and cover. Let your sauce simmer for about 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix one cup of the mozzarella cheese, all of the ricotta cheese, the egg, and the oregano.

Spread about 1/3 of your sauce around the bottom of a glass baking dish. I use a 9x13x2. Place a single layer of noodles over the sauce. Using a spoon and your fingers, drop generous blobs of the ricotta cheese mixture over the noodle layer, about an inch or so away from each other. Place a basil leaf on each ricotta blob, then sprinkle mozzarella and parm' cheese on top. Layer again with noodles, then more sauce, then ricotta, then basil, then other cheeses. Finish by layering noodles, then sauce, then mozzarella sprinkled on top. Bake for 1 hour. Let stand to cool, but don't let your pets get too close.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Honey, you gotta go see "Julia & Julie". Now.