Welcome to my world!

I've developed a passion for cooking since childhood, but in the past six years, that passion has grown into a geeky obsession. I love cooking, baking, and most importantly, sharing the love of food with family and friends. I invite you along on my journey of food discovery and passion.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Lasagna Debacle, Part I

Lasagna, at it's soul, is a simple dish - meat, cheese, sauce, and noodles are its fundamental components.  Yet, there are endless ways of complicating (and simplifying) this wonderful dish.  There is something comforting about the familiar Italian flavors and hearty, substantial personality.  There are 1 billion variations on a classic and countless reasons for them.  In a fit of nostalgia following, I recount the only date meal my husband ever learned to make to impress girls (it impressed me).  Next blog post, I "gourmet" up our tried-and-true (and easy) recipe for something more "artisinal" and completely from scratch.  The debacle?  Does 100% "from scratch" lasagna taste better than the lasagna with pre-made ingredients (i.e. spaghetti sauce, store-bought ricotta, pre-made noodles)?  Results to come in Part II!

My sweetie does not cook much.  He grills great, but never really learned to cook things on the stove.  Maybe I need to challenge him to cook on the grill... hmmm. :)  Since it is rare for him to don the chef's hat for the day, it was very memorable to me when he made me the one-and-only "date" meal he knew - lasagna and garlic bread.  Why did he know how to cook lasagna and nothing else?  I can thank the J.J. Pearce High School College Survival class!  His teacher, far wiser than her students, knew that a guy would eventually want or have to impress his sweetie with a nice home cooked meal.  So, she gave them a reliable lasagna recipe and instructed them to use it!

Over the years, the "Date Lasagna" has morphed from something IceDaddy made for me to something we made together, and, most recently, to something I make for us.  How did this happen????

What I love about the receipe is the simplicity and easy-to-assemble ingredients.  Nothing complicated and aside from a one hour plus cooking time and three basic assembly steps (cook meat and combine with spaghetti sauce, mix ricotta with eggs, and assemble the lasagna), it's pretty easy. 

It's almost like a non-recipe, which is why it's stayed a family favorite.  I can assemble it from memory.

"Date Lasagna"
Serves 6 - 8; inspired from a recipe courtesy of JJ Pearce H.S. Home Ec
1 lb. ground beef, cooked and drained
1 jar spaghetti sauce
1 cup water
1 - 15 oz container ricotta cheese (regular or part skim)
2 eggs
2 tsp.. dried parsley
Salt and pepper
1 box no-boil lasagna noodles
1/2 lb shredded mozzarella
3 Tbsp. grated parmesan cheese

Combine cooked ground beef, spaghetti sauce, and water.  Mix to combine and season with salt and pepper.  Set aside.  Combine ricotta, eggs, parsley, and about 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper.  Mix to combine and set aside. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray 9x13 pan with non-stick spray.  Spread about 1/2 cup of meat sauce on bottom of pan.  Place about 5 lasagna noodles (uncooked), edges overlapping in pan.  Cover with 1/2 of the ricotta mixture; spread over noodles.  Top with 1/2 of the mozzarella and 1 Tbsp. of the parmesan, finishing with 1/2 of the remaining meat sauce.  Repeat the layering through the meat sauce.  Top with remaining parmesan cheese.

Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.  Uncover and bake 15 - 30 minutes longer.

Yummy tomatoey goodness
I hope you consider making this for your sweetie.  It's also a great dish to assemble as a family.  Happy eating!

No comments:

Post a Comment