I Hate Mondays, but I Love Lasagna
Because of my cool new job I found myself with an extra day off from work today. It was the perfect opportunity to relax after a busy weekend, but instead I chose to make lasagna – from scratch. To give you an idea of the level of scratching involved I will list the ingredients:
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 (16 oz) container whole milk ricotta cheese
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 8 cups Tomato-Red Pepper Sauce with Hot Italian Sausage (See Recipe)
- 9 Homemade Lasagna Noodles (See Recipe)
- 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 pound Hot Italian Sausage (See Recipe).
I will admit that I cheated on that one and I defrosted a pound of sausage I made back in January, but it still counts as homemade.
I started with the sauce, which meant I got to fill the kitchen with the smell of roasting red peppers. While the peppers roasted I browned the sausage and chopped up the tomatoes. I ground up the peppers into a purèe, mixed it all together in a pot and boiled for about 20 minutes.
To be correct I should say that I mixed it into two pots, one with sausage and one without. I put about 1/4 of the sauce in a small pot and simmered it without any meat in it so I could create a sausage free portion of the lasagna. The two sauces idea worked well and I was able to offer Melanie a “vegetarian” piece of lasagna.
Next I began making the noodles. The noodles are flour and egg with fresh basil and crushed red pepper thrown in to give them some flavor. I used my food processor to mix the eggs and flour into a ball of dough. This part was a little trickier than Mitch described it and I had to add extra flour and water until I got the right consistency.
I cut the dough into four parts and then rolled each one out into a “rough rectangle.” Some of my rectangles were rougher than others, but by the fourth ball of dough I was getting the hang of things.
I don’t know if the photos do the noodles justice, but they were quite beautiful. Once I let them dry and cut into thirds I had cream-colored noodles with flecks of read and green. Melanie summed up the experience of making my own noodles for me with one word. When she learned that the noodles were homemade she said, “That’s intense.”
Max wandered into the kitchen at this time and was my sous chef for about 30 seconds before he got bored. In his defense I had him creating the cheese mixture and he is not a fan of cheese in most of its forms. It was nice to have an extra pair of hands at that point because I was dropping the noodles into boiling water and they only boil for a couple of minutes. After I boiled the first half of the noodles I started to assemble the lasagna. Noodles, cheese, sauce more cheese, more noodles, more cheese, more sauce.
By the time I had the lasagna built the next batch of noodles was done, but I only needed three more of them. Initially I thought I had screwed up. I made a total of twelve noodles just as the recipe called for, but I had only used nine. Was I supposed to use four noodles per layer instead of three? I reread the recipe and I had done nothing wrong. The recipe only calls for nine noodles, but instructs you to make twelve. I guess it was sponsored by the hot dog bun people. This mathematical anomaly turned into a great boon for Sarah, but first I completed building the Van Halen lasagna.
Then I looked at what was left on the counter. Three large lasagna noodles, 12 oz. of ricotta cheese, 2 cups of shredded mozzarella, and lots of grated Parmesan cheese. I grabbed some jarred Alfredo sauce from the fridge and made a small white lasagna with layers of noodles, cheese and Alfredo.
I baked the Van Halen Lasagna for about 45 minutes and the white lasagna for about 30. They baked into a golden dish of cheesy goodness.
After waiting a very long ten minutes for the lasagna to cool I cut into it served, and enjoyed. The spicy sausage gave the lasagna a slight kick, but nothing over powering. The white lasagna turned to be delicious and Sarah even had seconds.
Recipe #50: Homemade Lasagna Noodles
Recipe #51: Tomato-Red Pepper Sauce with Hot Italian Sausage
Recipe #52: Lasagna, Van Halen Style
Damn Good Food Quote of the Day: To serve, spread lasagna evenly over carpet and drapes, and sit down to a bowl of M&M’s (brown ones optional).
Time spent in kitchen = 5 1/2 hours.