IF You Build It They Will Come
Lasagna for Meaters, Veaters, and Cheaters
Here is my lasagna-for-cheat-day method. I brown the organic ground beef and drain fat, then sauté with a little sliced garlic and sea salt. I layer the beef in as I layer the cheese into the meat pan. I mix it into the Renata’s Smashing Marinara and pretend it cooked for hours! My son doesn’t seem to notice. It all tastes heavenly in the end. Now I don’t need two separate sauces for da vegans. Forks are-a-clankin’! RECIPE LINK TO RENATA’S SMASHING MARINARA: http://renataskitchen.com/recipe/1175/
I generally grab whatever Italian creamy cheeses I can get my hands on that are reasonably priced. I mix good mozzarella if I can afford it (“the wet one!”-Daniel Franzese’s ‘Shit Italian Moms Say’) If ricotta is on sale, I get that. If mascarpone is on sale, I get that too. I experiment with mixtures of 1-2 eggs, sometimes separate and go a bit heavier on the whites for lightness (if I can bear to throw away an organic, free-range brown egg yolk, cuz I won’t use them, I just know I won’t). I add whatever I feel like it depending on time of year: fresh basil, Italian flat leaf parsley, dried basil, whatever I feel like. I taste, add salt and pepper, etc, until I’m in heaven. I usually bust out the good parm provided I am not going broke that week. If I am broke, I use cheaper parm, but never, ever stoop to pre-grated (a SIN!). I use the mad scientist method for the cheese filling. Mix, slurp, grab, chop, stir, taste, repeat until eyes roll in back of head. Done.
Lasagna noodles for me are always DeCecco. My dad makes his own lasagna noodles from scratch and it takes the finished dish to a whole different level. But he’s retired and so I will do that when I am retired too! For now I buy DeCecco and guess what. I don’t pre-boil that stuff. Why should I bother? I was rushing one time and decided to see what would happen. Voila, delicious, thick, gooey lasagna. The starch cooks out into the sauce and oh baby is it good! Plus, no fuss, no mess! If you wanna make your own lasagna noodles I refer you to Marcella Hazan, the queen of the big time, and make them on your counter top without a bowl: just a big mountain of “00” flour built into a sand castle mountain with a well in the center, crack 5 eggs in, and get yourself a glorious mess of luscious dough, roll out and cut. Heaven! Now, back to my cheaters way.
Good Gluten-Free Lasagna Noodles: Jovial 100% Organic Brown Rice Gluten Free Pasta Lasagna.
Other optional layers:
Veggies: Yup, I’m a vegaholic. So, duh, I spend my life chopping veggies and sneaking them into stuff! Lasagna is no different.
I usually just toss whatever veggie is in abundance, chopped up, into a large bowl with tons of chopped fresh garlic, shallots, herbs, salt and pepper and a lot of olive oil, stir, then layer on baking sheet and “Roast it with Renata” at 375F until soft and browned at edges. Slurp!
If I don’t layer meat lasagna with roast veggies then I serve them on side and make a simple meat-cheese-pasta layered dish. RECIPE LINK TO ROAST-IT-WITH-RENATA VEGGIES: http://renataskitchen.com/daily-bread-entertaining-101/
White Sauce: Sometimes! Usually only when I have time and if it’s the weekend! I LOVE the taste of béchamel, and the best béchamel comes from being truly patient and taking your favorite wooden spoon and your own sweet time to get that lovely milk warm/hot, adding a little at a time to your separate pot of butter and flour mixture, adding that hot milk a little at a time and getting it perfect thickness with a touch of freshly grated nutmeg and salt. (Beethoven or Red Hot Chili Peppers goes great with this part!) My dad and I are the family béchamel royalty. But today I doubt very much I will add! It’s a week day and work calls. Again, if you wanna do the wooden spoon method, I refer thee to Marcella Hazan.
Vegans: Renata’s Smashing Marinara, roasted veggies, vegan cream sauce (a fancy term for almond milk blitzed with cashews/walnuts/herbs/garlic/salt/olive oil in blender, thickened on stove if necessary with a little flour). Topped with swirl of red and white sauce and sprinkled with fresh basil.
To make lasagna take these layers and start with a 9×13 pan always beginning with a nest of red sauce, then uncooked DeCecco lasagna noodles, then build up with any of the following dotted all around or poured on thick. It’s YOUR life and YOUR lasagna! A work of art that is all yours! Build it, baby! Top it with some reserved mozzarella and parmesan for golden bubbly look and maybe a nice sprig of fresh basil in the center to symbolize the love in your green-garden heart!
Bake in the oven at 375F until center is piping hot, top is golden brown, noodles are nice and soft, and not too liquidy! 40-45 minutes depending size of pan. Vegan Lasagna will be quicker!
Whatever way you slice it, I can promise you this.
If you build it, they will come.