23 October 2008

I've been struggling with lasagna.  I had never really made it before.  I tried it a couple of months ago and while it was okay, it just wasn't that great.  I didn't write down what I did (oops!) but I know the noodles were kind of thick and the whole dish just didn't "meld."  If you know what I mean.

So the other night I tried again.  This recipe is a combination of my creativity and the recipe on the Barilla box.

Traditional Lasagna

2 tbsp olive oil, divided
3 tbsp onion, finely diced, divided
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained
4 cups spaghetti sauce, divided
1tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
15 oz. ricotta
2 eggs, beaten
4 cups shredded mozzarella
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
12 no-boil lasagna noodles

Preheat oven to 375°.

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in large skillet.  Add 1 tbsp diced onion and sauté briefly.  Add ground beef and brown, breaking up chunks with a spoon or spatula. Drain with slotted spoon and pulse in food processor until uniform.  Pour grease out of skillet and wipe with paper towel.  Return beef to pan.

Meanwhile, heat remaining olive oil in medium saucepan.  Add 1 tbsp onion and garlic and sauté until soft.  Add tomatoes and heat through.  Add 2 cups spaghetti sauce, basil, and oregano and heat through.  When beef is browned, add spaghetti sauce to meat in large skillet and keep on low heat.

In a bowl, combine ricotta, eggs, mozzarella, and parsley.

Spray a 9 x 13” baking dish with cooking spray.  Layer the lasagna this way:
meat mixture
4 noodles, overlapping
ricotta mixture
shredded mozzarella
meat mixture
4 noodles, overlapping
ricotta mixture
meat mixture
4 noodles, overlapping
2 cups plain spaghetti sauce
shredded mozzarella

Spray a piece of foil with cooking spray and cover dish with spray side down.  Bake 1 hour.  Uncover and bake an additional 5 minutes.

Makes 8-12 servings.

So this one turned out a lot better.  The no-boil noodles are great!  Not only do you not have to boil them, but they turn out softer after being cooked than the traditional ones.  And it seems kind of weird when you are layering it because the noodles don't cover the entire thing, but they expand as they cook, so not to worry.  They really made the dish "meld."  

Next time I will omit the parsley.  I just didn't like the flavor.  Maybe I added too much, but the flavor was really strong.  I could try using dried instead of fresh, but the whole point was that I had some fresh that I wanted to use up.

It seemed pointless to add mozzarella to the ricotta mixture.  After it cooked, you couldn't even tell it was in there.  I thought it would get all stringy as it melted, but it didn't.  And while we're on the subject of the ricotta mixture. . . 

I'm just going to come right out and say it.  I don't like ricotta!  There, I said it!  I thought it was one of those things you have to get used to if you don't like it at first.  And after all, it's a cheese, so it can't be that bad, right?  Nope, I just simply don't like it.  So I think I will create an un-traditional lasagna recipe that has an alternative to the ricotta mixture.  I've got an idea rolling around in my head.  I'll think about it for a while longer then try it again.

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1 comment:

  1. I love this idea you have...a blog about recipes you try. I too love to try new things and I just may try some of your things. I too do NOT like ricotta cheese! Can't stand the stuff. I have a great lasagna recipe with no ricotta that a friend from college gave me if you're interested. Let me know and I'll e-mail it to you. My e-mail is tiamusser@yahoo.com