Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Lasagna Two Ways
Okay, while my plan is to post menus and recipes from evenings entertaining friends and family, I did make some dinners this week that could be incorporated into such an event although I just made them for my immediate family to enjoy during the week.
The dishes I made are for lasagna. Lasagna is a great dish for entertaining for a number of reasons:
1. It really is best made ahead.
2. It feeds a lot of people.
3. There are so many variations, you could serve it every night of the week and make it different each time.
Lasagna is somewhat time consuming due to the prep work so I say, make more than one. Once the prep is done, things move pretty quickly. I made two different recipes. One for a traditional red lasagna and one for a white lasagna. While the only difference between the two is the sauce, the flavors are completely different and I will serve them two nights in a row and nobody will feel like they are eating the same thing twice. If you are entertaining, you could serve them both and let people decide which is their favorite. I have other favorite lasagna combinations which I will post in the future but here are the two I just made. I hope you enjoy:
The ingredient list is for both recipes as that is how I did it. This will make one Traditional Lasagna and one White Lasagna. I have found that you do not need to precook the lasagna noodles. This saves time and work plus the noodles soak up so much more flavor cooking in the sauce instead of a pot of water! You do not need to purchase the no cook variety, regular lasagna noodles are what I used.
1 lb lean ground beef
1 lb bulk Italian sausage
1 TBLS olive oil
2 oz can roasted red peppers
16 oz jar alfredo sauce
1 2lb 13 oz jar spaghetti sauce (I used Ragu)
2 10 oz boxes frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed of excess liquid
1 32 oz container ricotta cheese
18 lasagna noodles, uncooked
1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
6-7 cloves garlic, divided
½ tsp dried rosemary
1 ¼ cup white wine, divided
1 TBLS dry sherry
1 tsp Italian seasoning
2 cups milk
3 TBLS flour
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided
1 lb grated mozzarella cheese divided into four 4 oz piles
Dash of nutmeg
Sale and freshly ground pepper
4 oz grated mozzarella cheese, for finishing
½ cup parmesan cheese, for finishing
Grease 2 13 x 9 inch casseroles. Brown the beef and sausage together, breaking up large chunks. Drain well and set aside. Saute the onion and enough crushed garlic to measure 1 TBLS in the olive oil until softened. Add one cup of the wine, the sherry, rosemary, Italian seasoning and the meat to the onion mixture. Cook until most of the liquid is absorbed. Divide the meat mixture into two separate bowls. Drain and chop the roasted red peppers and add to one ½ of the meat.
Make the white sauce: whisk the flour into the milk. Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring, until it thickens. Add the jar of alfredo sauce. Pour ¼ cup of wine into the alfredo sauce jar and shake to dissolve any remaining sauce. Add to the sauce. Add the parmesan cheese, enough crushed garlic to measure ½ TBLS, a dash of nutmeg and salt and fresh ground pepper to taste to the sauce. Be sure to season this sauce well as it is a basis for the white lasagna.
Put the ricotta cheese into a bowl and add the spinach. Mix well.
Now that everything is prepped, the lasagna can be assembled.
Into one casserole spread ½ cup of spaghetti sauce.
Spread ½ cup white sauce into the other casserole.
Lay 3 lasagna noodles into each casserole.
Spread ¼ of the ricotta mixture over the noodles in each dish.
On the white sauce dish, spread ½ the meat mixture containing the roasted red peppers. Cover with 1/3 of the remaining white sauce. Sprinkle with 4 oz mozzarella.
On the red sauce dish, spread ½ the plain meat mixture. Cover with 1/3 of the remaining red sauce. Sprinkle with 4 oz mozzarella.
Repeat the above layers. Top each casserole with 3 noodles each and cover with the remaining 1/3 sauce. Cover the casseroles and refrigerate until ready to cook.
When you are ready to cook, cover the lasagna tightly with foil. My special trick to keep the foil from dipping into the sauce it so place spaghetti sticks broken to about 3 inch lengths around the casserole to hold up the foil. They will cook and I do not have to worry about whether I got all the toothpicks out!
Place the lasagna into a cold over, heat to 400* F. Start timing from when the oven temp actually reaches 400*. Bake for 1 hour then remove the foil cover. Sprinkle each lasagna with 2 oz of mozzarella and ¼ cup parmesan. Return to the oven for 15 minutes. Remove the lasagna from the oven and let it rest on the counter for at least 15 minutes before cutting and serving. The resting part is very important when it comes to lasagna. Don’t skip it. Your lasagna will slice and serve so much better if you wait it out!
If you wish, the Red Lasagna may be successfully frozen. Just thaw in the refridgerator for 24 hours before baking.