Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Old Fashioned Lasagna

After looking for about two weeks for ricotta cheese I found it at La Cava, a deli that is close by. I should have started there to begin with. I had been wanting to make lasagna. Now I had all the ingredients but you can't make a big casserole of lasagna for just two people so we invited some friends. Knowing that the lasagna is rich I tried to make the rest of the dinner a little lighter. First, on the patio, I served the mango salsa with chips. Then a cup of chilled roasted yellow pepper soup. Although it tastes creamy, it doesn't have any cream in it. That was followed with the lasagna with salad on the side. Dessert was a Velvet raspberry tart.

I've been making this lasagna for too many years to admit to but I think I got the original recipe from a Better Homes and Garden cookbook that I received as a shower gift. When I first started cooking this recipe seemed very complicated but it was one that I could put together ahead of time, get the kitchen clean and be ready to serve it for company.

This is the lasagna assembled and ready to go in the oven. With my changes, the recipe is:

Lasagna - 12 servings

The sauce may be made the day before.
Combine in a large saucepan:
2 cans diced tomatoes (15-16 oz. each)
4 cans tomato sauce (8 oz. each)
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon onion salt (Optional)
Start simmering these ingredients uncovered

Saute until golden:
2 cups minced onions
2 minced cloves garlic
in 1/4 to 1/3 cup olive oil

1-1/2 pound ground chuck roast or round
1/2 pound Italian sausage (mild or spicy according to your taste)
2 teaspoons salt
Cook until meat loses it red color. Add to the tomato sauce above. Simmer about 1 hour or until the sauce thickens.

3/4 lb. lasagna noodles
according to package directions. Even if I'm using the no cook noodles, I cook them because I have reduced the liquid in the sauce. Drain and separate noodles.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If you made the sauce the day before, warm it before assembling the lasagna.

Now let's build the lasagna. Put in 11x15 baking dish, a thin layer of sauce, then a layer of noodles overlapping the edges by 1/3 to 1/2 the width of the noodles. Then add sauce, then a layer of cheese. In all use:
3/4 lbs Ricotta cheese (sometimes I put the whole container in.
1/3 lb. grated mozzarella cheese.
1/2 lb grated Parmesan cheese.
Repeat twice with sauce, noodles and cheese. The final cheese layer is covered once more with sauce and a good dusting of the Parmesan. I usually make the lasagna earlier in the day, cover it with foil and put it in the fridge. About an hour before I'm ready to pop it in the oven, I take it out of the fridge so it can start to come to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for about 50 minutes. Remove and let stand for 10 minutes. The lasagna can then be cut for serving.


Islagringo said...

Did you know that Doble Crema, available at almost any grocery store deli counter, is the same as Ricotta cheese? Or pretty darn close anyway. We use that for Lasagna here and you can't tell the difference.

Anonymous said...

Hi Billie~
Your Chiliquiles recipe is a real hit with my boys. So I'll have to give your lasagne recipe a try. Hope you're doing well! Deb

Babs said...

I don't make my old lasagna recipe anymore cause of the size of the toaster oven, but I guess I could do two 10x10 dishes! BTW, I didn't hear my phone ring or I would have been there - just kidding........

Cynthia said...

Looks great. I will send you my grandmother's recipe for ricotta. (She grew up in Italy and came here as a teen in 1912). My mom will not eat ricotta that is store-bought and always tells me how simple it is to make grandma's recipe.

Of course, I don't have a clue she made it. Since it's in every store around, it's easier just to buy it.

Wish I was more into cooking and so does my hubby!

Anonymous said...

Hi Billie, I just now read your message in response to mine about coming San Miguel. We arrived Sunday evening and have been enjoying your lovely town. We're here until the 15th so it would be great to get together for coffee sometime, if it still works for you. You can leave me an email message on my blog (the link is top right, just under my picture). We're now checking emails at internet cafe's as the wireless doesn't seem to work where we're staying.

Your lansagna recipe sounds great!

Cheers, Kate

Mexico Cooks! said...

I'm wondering about IslaGringo's comment. Isn't *doblecrema* the same as cream cheese, and *requesón* the same as ricotta?

I always use requesón when I make lasagna, and beat several eggs and some grated parmesano right into it before layering the requesón in between the noodles and the mozzarella.

Billie, it all looks marvelous. I'm in love with the way you folded the napkins, and now my mouth is watering for lasagna! And your cream of yellow pepper soup--is it the one from Cibreo, in Florence? With potatoes to thicken it, instead of cream?

Delicious meal you prepared for your lucky guests...

Mexico Cooks!

Jonna said...

There are 'no cook' noodles? I'm way behind the times.

The lasagna sounds wonderful. I am going to try it now that I have a kitchen.

I too love how your table looks, the napkins are beautiful and the roses are especially wonderful.

Billie said...

Wayne, I'll look into your suggestios for a substitute for Ricotta.

Deb, I'm glad to know that someone took the trouble to make the chiliquiles recipe. I should probably change the name to a Pastel Azteca though because of adding the chicken. My boys liked the lasagna so I hope yours will too.

Cynthia, thanks for the ricotta recipe. Mind if I post it on the blog someday?
Cristina, I like the idea of beating in eggs and parmesan in the ricotta or whatever kind of cheese. I'll show you how to fold the napkins next week. The yellow pepper soup recipe was from Fine cooking magazine and it doesn't have any cream in it. It is very fresh and light tasting and would be even more so if I pushed it through a sieve but I like the body of the pureed roasted peppers.
Jonna, there are no cook noodles but you have to adjust your recipes to have enough liquid to "cook" them. I've never used them as they are supposed to be used but it would cut one step out of preparation of the lasagna.
To all of you, the napkin fold is called a lotus fold and I learned how to do it from a cookbook that one of my DILs gave me for my birthday. Every time I use it to set the table the guests are intrigued.