Sunday, January 16, 2011

Mission: Lasagna

I am currently on a cooking tear. But the recent changes in my life mean that I only really have to time to savor cooking on the weekends. On the weekends, then, I'm trying to prepare food that I can use and enjoy throughout the week.

The French Bread was a wonderful example of this. But man cannot live by bread alone. So yesterday, I set out to make one of my favorite meals in the world.

First I cut the recipe for this wonderful marinara sauce in half. Note: I didn't include meat in this sauce this time.

Then I started to build my lasagna. I covered the bottom of a 9" x 13" glass baking dish with a layer of sauce. Then I covered the sauce with a layer of lasagna noodles. I spread a thin layer of ricotta cheese on the noodles and then covered the noodles and ricotta cheese with a layer of mozzarella cheese. After creating three sauce/noodles/cheese layers, I added a final layer of sauce and sprinkled Parmesan cheese generously on top.

I covered the top with foil, sealing the edges tightly. Then I baked it at 400 degrees for 75 minutes. (I checked the lasagna after an hour, testing the texture of the noodles with a fork. Since the noodles seemed a bit stiff still, I let the lasagna cook for another 15 minutes. The cooking time would probably vary between 60 and 90 minutes depending on the oven.)

My roommates and I tackled the result. The lasagna, paired with white wine, French Bread, Butterfinger ice-cream, and a lot of laughter, was divine. The second positive: lunch and dinner for part of the week is already prepared.

1 4 lb. bottle of Traditional Prego
15 oz tomato sauce
6 oz tomato paste
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup white wine (The original recipe calls for red wine, which is probably a better choice. I only had white available)
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
1 tbl. dried oregano
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 finely chopped garlic clove
1 tbl. olive oil
2 tsp pepper

Saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil in a large stock pot until the onions become transparent. Add the remaining ingredients and adjust amounts to taste. Cover and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Layer sauce, noodles, ricotta cheese, and mozzarella cheese. A regular baking dish should be able to accommodate three layers of each. Cover the result with a final layer of sauce and sprinkle generously with Parmesan cheese.

Bake at 400 degrees for 60-90 minutes, until noodles reach desired texture. (Test with fork.)

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