Sunday, March 25, 2012

Lasagna Time

When I was a kid, we used to go on skiing trips to June Mountain with a few families. we would rent a big house for all of us to stay in. We always made a menu for the week to save money an not eat out every meal. One of the staple meals we would have is a frozen Lasagna from Smart & Final (CostCo like store). It was easy to make and filling for a large group. Other than on those trips, I never really ate lasagna. Now that I like to cook and with the new gadgets I got form Christmas, I decided to make Lasagna. Once I started thinking about it, I realized I can make almost everything from scratch. Well, I did and it ended up taking 2 days, but it was worth it at the end.

I ended up on making a vegetarian lasagna with Spinach. Here is a breakdown of the main component that I made from scratch. I will go into details on each component, then go through the assembly and baking of it.

Scratch made items

Tomato Sauce
Pasta noodle/sheets
Ricotta Cheese

On the first day, I made the tomato sauce. See my previous blog on the recipe for my tomato sauce. The day of cooking, I made the noodles from scratch Here is the noodle recipe.

2.5 cups flour
4 eggs (cold straight from the fridge)
1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
0.5 teaspoon salt

Pour the flour onto a the counter and make a a well in the middle. Crack the eggs into the middle of the well. Add the olive oil and salt. With your fingers slowly break the yokes and slowly start working in the flour in a circular motion. Take in a little flour at a time until you have mixed it all in. Once it is all mixed together kneed the dough until it is he same temperature of your hands. Let is set at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. By slowly working in the flour into the eggs and kneading the dough, you are making the pasta more elastic and adds a snap when you bite into it. Now I rolled the dough into sheets. I read a bunch of recipes online whether you need to pre-cook the pasta or not. I decided to cook it partially and let it finish cooking in the oven. I placed the noodles in boiling water for about 1 minute and then set aside for assembly.

Next onto the Ricotta

4 cups milk
0.5 tsp salt
3 table vinegar

Bring the milk up to a slow boil (around 160F). Once it is up to the right temperature, stir in the vinegar. Immediately curds will start to form. Let is sit for 5-10 minutes. Line a bowl with cheese cloth and pour the milk/cheese into it. Let it strain for 15 minutes. At this point, I put it in the fridge to cool down a bit. Right before use are going to use the ricotta, mix in the salt. Mine cmae out a bit on the creamy side but tasted great.

Now we have the noodles made and partially cooked, the sauce made, and the ricotta made. I decided on a vegetarian Spinach lasagna so while I was making the ricotta, I steamed an entire bag of spinach. Once the spinach was steamed and wilted down, I mixed the ricotta and spinach together. Now time for assembly!

I wasn't making an entire tray of lasagna, but more of a 2-4 serving size amount. I decided to use a bread pan. I layered it as follows: Noodles, sauce, ricotta/spinach, and mozzarella.

I placed a layer of noodles down first.

Then added the sauce

Next, the ricotta & spinach mixture. I also added in fresh basil and red pepper flakes

Lastly, a layer of mozzarella cheese. Next time I will make the mozzarella myself.

I repeated this layering 4x's until the pan was filled to the top. I then added a layer of noodles to seal in everything. I cooked it for 45 minute at 350F. Here is a picture of the final product.

I had leftover's so I brought it to work the next day. Like most leftover's I ate it cold. It tasted just as good cold as fresh out of the oven. I will be making this again. I am also waiting for The Hemlocker to write a blog with his Vegan ricotta.

1 comment:

  1. Looks delicious!

    Reminds me of a Zach Galifianakis joke:

    Did you see that new Garfield movie?
    Garfield was eating lasagna and Odie was up to his old tricks.