Last week my husband asked if I would be willing to put in the many hours it takes to conjure up a couple of lasagnas for the sailors on watch on Memorial Day. My response was, hell yes I will. He really loves my lasagna so I thought I’d share how I make it, for posterity.
The first step I had to start on Sunday afternoon because the sauce just isn’t right unless it cooks for a good six hours. Yes, I said 6 !
It’s a basic sauce:
- 1 Large yellow onion – chopped fine
- About 2 cloves of garlic minced
- 2-3 medium carrots-chopped fine
- Tomato (I used a large can of diced and a large can of crushed usually)
- Dried Basil – 2 tsp approx.
- Salt and Pepper
- Fresh Basil – several leafs (I cut with scissors)
- 1 tbs Olive oil
In a large sauce pot Saute’ onion and carrots (carrots are a sweetener, if you are using San Marzano tomato you don’t need the carrots) season with salt and pepper in olive oil on medium-med. high heat until soft, add garlic – cook for a couple of minutes – till the garlic is fragrant. Add tomato and dried basil, bring to a boil, simmer for about 5 hours, stirring occasionally. Taste test and add salt/pepper if needed. Add cut fresh basil, stir and simmer another hour or so. Taste and season again if needed, before using it.
When I add the basil for the final hour or so is usually when I start preparing the filling. For me it’s spicy Italian sausage, ricotta cheese and mozzarella. This time I opted to try it with sliced mushrooms as well:
Slice sausage (I use an entire pack for 1 lasagna) and cook on stove till brown and yummy. Ricotta – I opt for the part skim and 1 container works for 1 lasagna. Ricotta should not just be spooned on, it should be prepared by combining Parmesan cheese, 1 egg and mozzarella. I usually mix with a fork, almost a whisk to fluff it up.
By the time this is all ready and I have kind of a line set up for layering the sauce is ready.
I will admit to cheating on the noodles. I don’t have a noodle press so I use the easy to cook kind you get at the market.
Preheat the over per the noodle instructions, 375 I believe.
Start layering with a thin coat of sauce on the bottom of the pan, then lay the noodles in, spread 1/3 of the ricotta mixture over the noodles, place sausage, some mozzarella and any other ingredients, like mushrooms. Then I drop a few spoons of sauce on it before adding the next noodle layer just to make sure the noodles cook.
Some pans allow for three or four noodles, do as many layers as your pan and you can handle – I make sure not to pile over the height of the pan. When you have your last noodle layer on top pour remaining sauce over it carefully, making sure the sauce gets into the sides, at least half way up.
(Hint: I have used these noodles to make a two serving lasagna in a bread pan, worked out great and was fun and easy.)
Finally, add mozzarella on the top and cover with foil, place in the oven for about 25 minutes. Remove the foil for an additional 5 minutes or so to brown the cheese on top. If yours doesn’t brown quickly, turn the oven on broil and toast it, be careful with this though, keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn.
and voila .. we have lasagna.. let stand for a good 15 minutes so it doesn’t run all over the plate when serving it.
(If I’m feeling extra fancy I will make a bechamel sauce to put on top then the cheese.)