Jul 31, 2008

The Joys of Lasagna

Lasagna is one of those foods that is just so good, and there are as many recipes as there are cooks. I am going to share three of my favorites today. To start, I have to tell you about a recipe book my first grade class made. The teacher sent home a paper requesting our favorite recipes. Many delicious items came back (and I do quote) - "Mandy's Favorite Chocolate Mint Snow-Top Cookies, Morgan's Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies," and " Kim's Favorite Pumpkin Spice Cake," etc, etc. You get the idea - chocolate, peanut butter, spice; a treat for all seasons. So what did little Rachael Harris say her favorite recipe was? Lasagna. Yup. And I am not even Italian.

So to start....

Rachael's Favorite Lasagna (at least in 1st grade)

2 15 oz. part skim Ricotta cheese
1 12oz part skim mozzarella cheese
8oz provolone cheese
1 egg
1 pkg. lasagna noodles
1 recipe for Italian tomato sauce (homemade or bottled)

Grate hard cheese and combine with Ricotta and egg. Boil water in a large pot, cook noodles and drain. Pour small amount of sauce into a 9X13 pan. Starting with noodles, layer with cheese. Pour remaining sauce over layers and back at 350 for 45 minutes.

For another version of this, see http://www.kraftfoods.com/kf/recipes/simply-lasagna-69196.aspx

And there you have it - simplicity at it's finest. As you get older you are more willing to try more adventurous food. I personally would call this next lasagna adventurous. It takes a while to prepare and it is definitely more difficult than the above. However, it is Eric's favorite. It is a recipe by PAULA DEEN, who I love. I can't find which cookbook it is from (I have them all), but I have it printed from 4 years ago when it aired on food network. So here it is, lasagna 2...

Eric's Favorite Lady and Son's Lasagna (Paula Deen original)

2 cups canned, diced tomatoes
2 cups tomato sauce
1 cup water
1/2 cup onions, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1/4 cup chopped, fresh parsley leaves
1 1/2 tsp Italian Seasoning
1 1/2 tsp The Lady's House Seasoning, recipe follows
1 1/2 tsp seasoning salt
1 1/2 tsp sugar
2 bay leaves (never leave out bay leaves!)

1 1/2 Lbs ground beef
6 to 9 Long strip lasagna noodles
12 oz cottage cheese, mixed with 1 beaten egg and 1/2 cup Parmesan
1 cup Gruyere cheese, grated
1 cup Swiss cheese, grated
2 cups cheddar, grated
1 8oz pkg cream cheese
1 cup mozzarella, grated

To make the sauce, in a stockpot, combine the tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, onions, peppers, garlic, parsley, seasoning mixtures, sugar, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 1 hour. Crumble the ground beef in a saucepan. Cook until no pink remains, then drain off the fat. Add the ground beef to the stockpot. Simmer for another 20 minutes. While the sauce simmers, cook the pasta according to the package directions. Remove bay leave.

Preheat oven to 350

To assemble lasagna, place a thin layer of sauce in the bottom of a 9X13X2 dish. Layer 1/3 of each, noodles, cottage cheese mixture, Gruyere, Swiss, and cheddar cheeses. Pinch off small pieces of cream cheese and dot over other cheeses. Add another layer of sauce. Repeat layering 2-3 times ending with sauce. This may be covered and refrigerated at this point. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and top with mozzarella and continue to bake for another 10 to 15 minutes. Note: If lasagna has been refrigerated, bake for 40 minutes total.

House Seasoning:
1 cup salt
1/4 cup black pepper
1/4 cup garlic powder
Mix ingredients together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Few! Did you get all that? Next and last is a lasagna that is a little off the beaten trail. It is my adult favorite. This is what is great about lasagna, there are so many combinations to choose from! This is a recipe from my mom. I remember having it growing up and I have always loved it. In fact, I plan to make it Monday night. It is one of the only ways I will eat a green olive.

White Sauce Chicken Lasagna
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup mayo
1/2 cup sour cream
1 small onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
green olives, chopped (to taste but do add them even if you don't think you like green olives - TRUST ME they add amazing favor)
1 cup of cottage cheese
1-2 breasts shredded chicken (a quick way is to chop the chicken into smaller pieces, boil the it for a few minutes, let it cool, and then shred it up)
Lasagna noodles

Combine everything but chicken and noodles. Layer in a 9X13 pan sauce, chicken, noodles, ending with sauce on top.

So you might have found yourself wondering - cottage cheese or Ricotta? I personally love the creamy texture and flavor of Ricotta. Others simply hate the stuff (hard to believe I know). At the end of the day, it is a personal choice. But I can bet with a good lasagna, you can fool even an avid Ricotta cheese hater (I speak from experience). Enjoy!

1 comment:

Natalie Pyles: said...

That Lady and Son's Lasagna is also Jason's favorite. Rae, you made it for us once like 4 years ago and he talks about it all the time. I guess I should make it for him... :)