Sunday, January 31, 2010

Classic Italian Lasagna, Marinara Sauce

This recipe is from Giada De Laurentiis' book everyday italian cookbook. The cover says 125 simple and delicious recipes. I have to disagree with the simple business. This has to be the most complex lasagna I have ever made. I had looked at the recipe and knew that, so I had planned ahead, but it was a lot of work. I had to make 2 seperate sauces from scratch one of which had to simmer for an hour. Anyway, at least it was good - probably not my favorite lasagna on the planet, but it was pretty good. I just like my lasagna the way I'm used to lasagna. This had a creamier flavor.

  • salt
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 15 dry lasagna noodles (about 12 oz)
  • 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups Bechamel Sauce (see below)
  • 1 1/2 cups Marinara Sauce (see below)
  • 1 1/2 pound ricotta (I only had 15 oz. Was going to buy more but didn't. It was fine like this, and I can't imagine it being fuller)
  • 3 eggs (I used 2 since I used less ricotta)
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 10 oz packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry (I used 1 16 oz. package and can't image having used more)
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the vegetable oil. Cook the lasagna noodles until almost al dente, about 6 minutes. (This isn't fully done.) Drain, then rinse noodles under cold water to stop cooking. Set aside.
  2. Brown beef - I used my pre-cooked.
  3. Position rack in center of the oven and preheat to 375
  4. In medium bowl, mix bechamel and marinara sauces to blend.
  5. In anotehr medium bowl, mix the ricotta, eggs and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper to blend. Set aside.
  6. Spread the butter over a 9 X 13 pan. Spoon 1/3 of the red sauce over bottom of the dish. Arrange 5 noodles on the sauce. Spread the ricotta mixture evenly over the noodles. Top with spinach. Arrange 5 more lasagna noodles on the spinach, then top with ground beef. Spoon 1/3 red sauce on top. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese. Top with the remaining 5 noodles. Spoon remaining red sauce over noodles, then sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese and the parmesan cheese.
  7. She put it on a lined cookie sheet, but since I was lacking a few things, I didn't.
    Bake until lasagna is heated through and the top is bubbling, about 45 minutes.

Bechamel Sauce

  • 5 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 4 cups warm whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • pinch of white pepper
  • pinch of nutmeg
In a 2 quart saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until smooth, about 2 minutes. Gradually add teh warm milk whisking constantly to prevent any lumps from forming. Simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thick, smooth, and creamy about 10 minutes (do not allow the bechamel sauce to boil). Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt and pinch of pepper and nutmeg. Season with more salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. (I did a great job making this with no lumps, but as it cooled and formed a skim then when I stirred it it was lumpy - didn't make the lasagna taste bad, I was just sad I stirred for so long for nothing.)

Marinara sauce

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 small onions, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 32 oz cans crushed tomatoes (I had 2 28 oz cans and used 8 oz from another can)
  • 2 dried bay leaves
In a large pot, heat the oil over a medium-high flame. Add the onions and garlic and saute until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bay leaves, and simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour. Remove and discard the bay leaves. SEason the sauce with more salt and pepper to taste.
Marinara Sauce

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