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Archive for March 14th, 2008

Well, I guess if you have one noodle it’s lasagna; if you have two or more, it’s lasagne. And you’re one happy camper. Same with “spaghetto” or “spaghetti”. No one ever prepares “spaghetto”.

Anyway, that’s what I made for dinner last night, with an “a”. I had some leftover meaty spaghetti, with an “i”, sauce and all the ingredients necessary for that delightful Italian specialty lasagna. So, I was good to go.

Thank God for whoever let the world know about using dry, uncooked lasagna sheets. I suppose it should have dawned on me at some point that it isn’t necessary to bring a huge pot of salted water to boil, drop in the pasta, time it carefully so the pasta doesn’t overcook (and then fall apart as one is trying to manhandle it into submission and into the baking dish), cool the individual sheets without burning one’s fingers, etc., etc., etc. Anyway, God bless the unboiled lasagna innovators every one,whoever they are.

My local “Foodtown” grocery store makes a mean hot Italian bulk sausage. I picked up about one third of a pound of that, a few slices of Genoa hard salami, and used about 10 thin slices of pepperoni I had in the frig. As the sausage was browning on the stove, I minced the pepperoni and salami and added them to the skillet after I removed the rendered fat from the sausage. With the ground beef that was already in the leftover spaghetti sauce on hand, I knew I had enough of a meaty base for the lasagna.

The package of Barilla “no-boil” lasagna has a recipe on the back.  That’s the basic recipe I follow, adding a few things here and there as I see fit. I use lowfat ricotta, about moreParmesan than they call for, adding another 1/4 cup on the top over the last layer of mozzarella.

I usually add cooked spinach to the cheese and egg mixture, sometimes chopping a couple handfuls of fresh spinach and microwaving or sauteing it and squeezing as much moisture as I can out of it before adding it to the mozzarella.  Other times, if I have planned ahead, I use leftover creamed spinach or spinach souffle (about 1 cup) instead of fresh.

To make more of a vegetable lasagna, I add some grated or minced carrots, zucchini, or even a handful of frozen peas, sprinkling them between the pasta layers in no particular order. It’s kind of a random thing. I like to look at it as an art!

If you can’t find the Barilla recipe, here it is. It’s hard to read on the box anyway. I revamped it to make it easier to read. (I have it taped on the inside of one of my kitchen cupboard doors, right above the counter where I make lasagna and occasionally lasagne.

Morgana’s Revised Barilla Lasagna Recipe

Ingredients:

16 no-boil Barilla lasagna sheets

52 oz. spaghetti sauce

1/2 lb. ground beef

1/4 lb. Italian sausage

1/4 c. diced hard salami, diced

8-10 thin pepperoni slices, diced

2 eggs

4 c. shredded mozzarella

15 oz. ricotta

1/2 – 3/4 c. parmesan, shredded

Optional vegetables: (any or all)

cooked spinach (squeezed to remove excess moisture) or creamed spinach

handful of frozen peas

1 carrot, peeled and shredded or minced

1/2 med. zucchini, or 1 small, shredded or minced

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Brown ground beef and Italian sausage in a medium skillet. Drain fat. Mix in the salami and pepperoni. Set aside to cool a bit.

2. Mix the eggs, ricotta, 2 cups  mozzarella, and 1/2 cup parmesan. (Add the spinach and any other vegetables.)

3. Spray the bottom and sides of a 9 x 13 x 2 inch baking dish with cooking spray if desired. (If your baking dish is shallower, only make 3 layers instead of 4. I use a Pyrex 9 X 13 pan that is nearly 2 inches deep and it works well.) Spread 1 cup of the sauce on the bottom of the pan.

4. Assemble layers: (BIG HINT: spread each dry lasagna sheet with the cheese/egg/vegetable mixture before laying in the pan. It’s much easier!)

     Layer 1:  4 pasta sheets (spread with 1/3 of the egg mixture)

                       half of the meat mixture

                       1 c. mozzarella

                       1 c. sauce

     Layer 2:   4 pasta sheets (spread with 1/3 of the egg mixture)

                        1 1/2 c. sauce

     Layer 3:    4 pasta sheets (spread with rest of the egg stuff)

                         rest of the meat

                         1 c. sauce

     Layer 4:     4 pasta sheets

                          the remaining sauce

                          last cup of mozzarella

                          1/4 c. parmesan

5. Cover with foil and bake 50 – 60 minutes, 375 degrees F. Uncover and continue baking for 5 minutes more. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 – 15 minutes before serving.

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I like to use the no-stick aluminum foil made by Reynolds when baking lasagna. The cheese topping comes right up to the top of my baking dish and might stick to regular foil. With the no-stick foil, I have no trouble at all. It is also heavy enough to reuse to cover the leftovers, if  there are any leftovers.

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