Sunday, March 12, 2006

Decadent Lasagna!

Whew! It's finally spring break, and even though I'm not travelling anywhere this year (BOO HISS!), it's nice to have time to myself just to relax, and sleep, and read, and take hot baths, and watch movies, and catch up on Martha and Oprah, and play with my dogs, and of course, COOK and then blog about it! And today, I had a hankering for lasagna--not just that regular workaday creation made with, say, prefab spaghetti sauce and a carton of cottage cheese, NOOOO! I decided to make my favorite lasagna from the best, but perhaps the most complicated recipe known to man and woman! It involves making not one, but two sauces from scratch, but as AB would say, your patience (and hard work!) will be rewarded.

I am chagrined to reveal that this recipe originally came from the back of a box of low-end lasagna noodles, and I have recently learned that it is even incorrectly entitled "Lasagna Napoli." Apparently, Julie over at A Finger in Every Pie was on the same wavelength as I--on the same day even!--and was also crafting a lasagna in honor of the season six premiere of The Sopranos (refer to her post from March 12th). And I have learned from reading her informative prose that it is Lasagna Bolognese that alternates between a meat ragu and a bescamella, and that American-style lasagna derives from Lasagna Napoli. But as I have fiddled with this recipe over the years and sometimes add, for example, mozzarella (verboten in the Bolognese version which uses only parmesan!), I guess this is really a hybrid of the two regional influences. Furthermore, the recipe originally called for the use of ground beef, but I prefer using spicy sausage and also some pepperoni for a little kick. Also, though the original recipe called for ricotta cheese, I once found myself without any on hand, so I substituted 4 oz. of cream cheese (marscapone would be heavenly, too, I'll bet!) and a half cup of parmesan, and since then, I have never gone back to the ricotta. And once, when I made this for my good friend, Lee Ann, as she was recuperating from delivering her first child, I even sliced and sautéed some yellow squash and layered it into the lasagna, because I thought it might be yummy (and because it was summer, and I was overrun with squash in my garden!). So as always, feel free to add or swap out ingredients to make this recipe your own. And make sure to invite the whole gang to dinner, as it makes quite a substantial casserole!


1 package lasagna noodles, cooked according to package directions
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
½ cup grated/shredded parmesan cheese

Red Meat Sauce:

¼ cup olive oil
2/3 cup carrot, shredded
2/3 cup zucchini, shredded
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
4 sausage links, casing removed (I prefer hot, but sweet is fine, too—or you could use ground beef)
½ cup red wine
15 oz. can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste (I prefer the double- or even triple-concentrated kind from a tube)
24 slices pepperoni, chopped

1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil (a tablepoon of fresh would be even better if you have it!)
1 tablespoon sugar
salt and pepper, to taste

In a large skillet over medium heat, add olive oil and the carrots, zucchini, onion and garlic. Sauté for five minutes. Add the sausage and brown. Add the red wine, tomatoes, and tomato paste, mixing well. Cook for three more minutes. Add the chopped pepperoni, oregano, basil, sugar, salt and pepper. Stir well again and set aside.

White Mushroom Sauce:
½ cup butter
½ cup flour
2 cups milk, warmed
½ teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon cayenne

salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup ricotta cheese (or 4 oz. cream cheese and ½ cup grated/shredded parmesan)
2 eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon chives
1 cup (or more!) sliced mushrooms, sautéed in 1-2 tablespoons butter

Melt butter in a saucepan. Whisk in flour and cook for two minutes, stirring constantly. Slowly add the warm milk and cook until mixture is smooth. Stirring constantly, add dry mustard, cayenne, salt and pepper. When thickened, remove from heat and add cheese(s). Stir until melted, then add beaten eggs, and mix well. Add in sautéed mushrooms and chives. Mix again, and set aside.

Place four lasagna noodles on the bottom of a large baking dish that has been sprayed with pan spray. Spread one half of the red sauce evenly over the pasta layer and top with about a cup of shredded mozzarella. Place a second layer of noodles on top of that. Spread half of the white sauce evenly over the pasta. Repeat for two more layers in the same order with pasta, the remaining red sauce and another cup of mozzarella, more pasta, and ending with the remaining half of the white sauce. Top with some grated or shredded parmesan cheese, and bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Let the lasagna sit for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

1 comment:

Romayne Dawnay said...

Used your white sauce recipe for 2 layers in my venison lasagna... So good!!!! Thanks tons, I found you and your recipe by searching randomly for "decadent lasagna"!!!