Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Veggie Lasagna

My grandmother only makes lasagna on Christmas because my dad will be there to eat it. Lasagna is a labor of love & reserved for very special loved ones.  My friend Ashley was up visiting from Texas this past weekend. She is a lasagna worthy friend.  I even whipped up some homemade lasagna pasta sheets to make it extra special. You can of course skip the homemade pasta part & use the boxed lasagna noodles but whatever you do, make this for someone you love sometime really soon, preferably on a lazy Sunday when you have just as much time to make it as you do eat it in really great company.
Ingredients for the lasagna pasta sheets

  • 4 eggs
  • 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt + extra for cooking
  • 3-4 tablespoons water
  • olive oil (see note in directions)

Ingredients for cheese mixture
  • 1 lb ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup pecorino romano cheese, grated
  • 1 cup fresh mozzarella, grated
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon granulated garlic
  • salt & pepper

Other ingredients
  • 3 cups of your favorite tomato sauce (which is obviously this one)
  • 1 lb baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 zucchinis, sliced super thin with a mandolin
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 1 cup spinach
  • salt

Make the pasta!
  1. Mix eggs, flour and salt together.
  2. Add enough water to make the dough start to stick together but not too wet. I actually think it works better if it's a bit on the drier more crumbly side. If you add to much water, no worries, just add more flour.
  3. Knead the dough together so that it forms a rough ball shape. Let the dough rest for about 30 minutes.
  4. Tear small pieces of dough off and roll it between your hands or on a cutting board to form a pasta worm.  Run it between the flat plates of your pasta attachment starting with the smallest number (setting 1 or 2). Run it through several times on settings 2, 4, 6 and 7 until you reach desired thickness.
  5. Hang your pasta sheet a pasta rack. Work through the rest of your dough until it is all flat sheets of pasta - which is the exact shape you want for lasagna noodles.

Prep the veggies!
  1. Use a mandolin or a super sharp knife & some patience to cut the zucchini on the long side.
  2. Lay zucchini slices on paper towels & sprinkle with salt. This will help to pull some of the extra water out so your lasagna doesn’t get super soupy with excess water.
  3. Let the zucchini rest with the salt for about 10-15 minutes.
  4. Blot zucchini with a paper towel.
  5. Place zucchini in a bowl for later use.
  6. Slice the mushrooms.

Make the cheese mixture!
  1. Combine all the cheese mixture ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Season with salt & pepper.

Make the lasagna!
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  2. Add a good amount of salt - about 1 tablespoon.
  3. Par cook (which means cook half way) each sheet of pasta for about 2 minutes. Since I left my noodles huge I cooked them one at a time & removed them with tongs.
  4. Oil up the par-cooked noodles with olive oil & let them rest in the bowl. Don’t skip the oil or the noodles with stick together.
  5. Pre-heat oven to 350.
  6. Spoon about a 1/2 cup of sauce into the bottom of a large casserole dish. Spread it around.
  7. Add a layer of par-cooked noodles, making sure to cover the surface completely. Overlapping is ok. Cut & tear the noodles as needed to custom fit your dish.
  8. Add a layer of mushrooms.
  9. Add a layer of the zucchini.
  10. Cover your first veggie layer with sauce.
  11. Add another layer of noodles again covering the layer below entirely with noodle. These will create sturdy layers for your lasagna.
  12. Add a layer of mushrooms.
  13. Add a layer of the zucchini.
  14. Cover your second veggie layer with sauce.
  15. Add another layer of noodles again covering the layer below entirely with noodle.
  16. Add a layer of mushrooms.
  17. Add a layer of the zucchini.
  18. Cover your second veggie layer with sauce.
  19. Add all of the spinach on this layer. I only opted for one layer of spinach as to cut down on the the threat of any soupiness.
  20. Add the final layer of noodles again covering the layer below entirely.
  21. Top the final layer of noodles with sauce & then the rest of the grated mozzarella.
  22. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden & the cheese & sauce is bubbly. If it starts to get too brown at any point cover the lasagna with foil & let it finish cooking.
  23. Let rest for 10-15 minutes so that it can cool down & set up so that you can cut nice clean slices of lasagna & so it won’t slide all over the place.
  24. I topped ours with a little extra heated sauce & parsley with a side salad of simple mixed greens! Enjoy! Leftovers are amazing - if there are any.

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