Thursday, October 26, 2006

Best Lasagna of my life (thus far...)

This is probably better suited for a blog about Olive Garden (another Darden Restaurants owned chain).

I made some lasagna the other day from a recipe I got at Epicurious is my favorite source of recipes on the internet. I kinda followed the recipe, but also added my own flair to it for my own tastes. You can see my changes and notes in RED below.

We paired this with a 2004 Mondavi Sauvignon Blanc before the meal and a 2003 Da Vinci Chianti (DOCG approved) during the meal. For more on the Blanc click here. I really like the Blanc (and Mondavi is by far one of my favorite wine makers), though the pear flavor is pretty strong in this showing. The Da Vinci was new to me, and performed brilliantly. The flavor pair was amazing. I will likely buy a couple more of these Da Vinci Chianti's to just keep on hand for future use. The Chianti was an A and the Blanc a B on my grading chart. Our guests both liked both wines as well. Both wines also fall into a very nice price range.


1 tablespoon olive oil (I added a 2nd tablespoon, seemed a bit dry)
1 cup chopped onion (I used 1/2 cup not liking onion that much. I also food processed it)
3/4 cup finely chopped peeled carrots (food processed it)
2 tablespoons minced garlic (used 3 large cloves and it wasn't enough)
8 ounces lean ground beef (used 12oz. of Mild Italian, 6oz. of Spicy Italian Sausage. I would use all Spicy next time)
6 ounces spicy Italian sausages, casings removed (see above)
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes with added puree (used organic as they don't have such a strong canned taste)
1/4 cup tomato paste (I went over this amount to pump up the tomato flavor. Probably 3/8 cup)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil (I used more than 1/4 cup, and it still could've taken more)
1 tablespoon golden brown sugar (bumped up to 2+ tablespoons)
1 tablespoon dried oregano (definately could have used more of this)
1 bay leaf (I used 2 large ones, but probably could've used a bit more)
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper (I felt it needed a bit more heat after eating it last night, so add more to your own tastes)

15 lasagna noodles -about 12 ounces

2 15-ounce containers part-skim ricotta cheese (I used whole mike ricotta)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese -about 3 ounces (I doubled this)
1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained,
squeezed dry (I hate spinach so I skipped this)
2 large eggs

4 3/4 cups grated mozzarella cheese -about 1 1/4 pounds

FOR SAUCE: Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, carrots and garlic; sauté until softened, about 12 minutes. Add beef and sausages to pan; sauté until cooked through, breaking up meat with back of spoon, about 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer until flavors blend and sauce measures about 5 cups, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Cool.

FOR LASAGNA: Preheat oven to 350°F. Cook noodles in large pot of boiling salted water until almost tender, about 7 minutes. Drain; cover with cold water.

Combine ricotta and 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese in medium bowl. Mix in spinach. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in eggs. Drain pasta and pat dry. Spread 1/2 cup sauce over bottom of 13x9-inch glass baking dish. Place 5 noodles over sauce, overlapping to fit. Spread half of ricotta-spinach mixture evenly over noodles. Sprinkle 2 cups mozzarella cheese evenly over ricotta-spinach mixture. Spoon 1 1/2 cups sauce over cheese, spreading with spatula to cover (sauce will be thick). Repeat layering with 5 noodles, remaining ricotta-spinach mixture, 2 cups mozzarella and 1 1/2 cups sauce. Arrange remaining 5 noodles over sauce. Spread remaining sauce over noodles. Sprinkle remaining 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese evenly over lasagna. Can be prepared up to 1 day ahead. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Cover baking dish with aluminum foil. Bake lasagna 40 minutes; uncover and bake until hot and bubbly, about 40 minutes. Let lasagna stand 15 minutes before serving. (The last 40 minutes I set the oven at 400F instead of the suggested 350F. Because I made extra sauce through adding more ingredients, I added that to the bottom and top layers of sauce.)
Serves 8.

Other notes - I used extra meat and some extra parmesan cheese and this barely stayed in the dish when cooking. The original recipe is probably the perfect amount for a 13X9 glass dish.

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Skwerly said...

Dadgum, that sounds tasty. You made all of the changes I probably would have made, except that I'd keep the spinach.

Lobster Boy said...

This was one of those meals where you simply DO NOT count calories. There was salad before the lasagna, garlic bread, and later after eating we had apple pie and ice cream. I made a really simple dressing for the salad that turned out really well - 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Whisk and serve.

Lobster Boy

Fiona said...

I love lasagne and now my tummy is rumbling wanting some of that!!!!

I make a mean one too, and put a thin layer of bechamel over the ragout to moisten it and make it a little creamy. No ricotta in mine, only mozzarella and pecorino romano!

An Italian once told me it was the best he'd ever tasted ... and no he wasn't just trying to flatter me ;)

Guess what I'm going to be looking for at lunchtime ... no, no, not an Italian....though, hmmmmm, maybe yes :)

Anonymous said...

thought of posting your own recipes? Like making some up? I think you'd be awesome at it (you re-did this one, do others!)

Lobster Boy said...

I'm not enough of a foodie to be able to continually post recipes. I cook, and I enjoy cooking, but I don't have a lot of time to cook. I have some really nice kitchen equipment, but I need a gas stove. Someday maybe I can do more cooking, but for now it has to remain an occasional type of thing.

Lobster Boy