August 18, 2008
(Before I begin, you'll notice I'm spelling it with an 'e' and not an 'a'. That's because the word in Italian means the layers of pasta itself, which would be plural and ending in e rather than singular, which would be lasagna. End of Italian lesson).
Is there any better comfort food than lasagne? Not in my book. Of course, I don't really like the comfort foods that we think of as American. Not a big fan of mac n' cheese, chili, or the like. But I do love some good, homemade lasagne on a Sunday evening shared with friends. of course, turning on the oven when it's hot outside is not always a good idea, but it was worth the sweat.
I have in the past been guilty of making lasagne using store-bought ingredients like the sauce and the pasta. But this time I made all of it (except for the pasta. I just didn't have the time, and it was a last-minute dinner party, so don't hate me).
I started by making my sauce by sauteeing garlic in olive oil, adding tomatoes, two bay leaves and a sprig of rosemary. Then I browned my meat (organic, pasture fed beef from a local farm) in a different pan. When it was done, I added it to my sauce, seasoned it, and let it simmer for about 40 minutes.
Then I made a white sauce instead of just opening a tub of ricotta which is standard. This turned out so much better! I made a roux with butter and flour, then boiled milk with 1/2 an onion, a pinch of nutmeg, a sprig of parsley and added the flour-butter mixture slowly to it once it started to simmer and stirred it while it cooked until it thickened. I then strained the sauce, put it back in the pan to warm and thicken some more, and added about 5 oz of parmigiano cheese, salt and pepper. It tasted great on its own.
Then just compose your lasagne however you want: layer of pasta, layer of meat sauce, layer of white sauce, cheese, and repeat til it's gone! Sprinkle some fresh basil or sage on the top with some mozzarella and more parmigiano and bake for about 45 min.
Now I know I don't need to tell you how to make lasagne. Not only is it a standard in most people's repertoire, but there is no right or wrong way to make it either. I am just saying that when you start with high quality ingredients and make each component from scratch, the end result is extra special and great tasting, and made with lots of love. True of most things you make from scratch really. The end.