Cheese Lasagna

I was in the mood for pasta, but I didn’t want spaghetti or ravioli. When I first thought about making lasagna I contemplated a regular spinach one, but that didn’t appeal either. I finally settled on a cheese lasagna. Yes, this is mostly cheese and noodles, not a particularly inspired concoction, but it worked.

I started with the sauce. Instead of buying a jar of sauce (which, I admit is easier) I pulled the crushed tomatoes from the freezer and decided to make my own sauce. I wanted some vegetables in it, so I finely chopped some carrots and grated a zucchini. I wanted to grate the carrots too, but I only had baby carrots on hand and those are a pain to grate.

IMG_20170423_185732After cooking the aromatics and vegetables, I added the tomatoes, a touch a sugar and some red wine and let that cook fora few minutes. The final touch to the sauce was a little grated pecorino.

The layers – I kept this simple. Lasagna noodles, sauce, ricotta cheese and repeat. On the top I sprIMG_20170423_190303inkled shredded mozzarella and some more grated pecorino. It looked pretty.

Lasagna is a pretty simple dish and done right, it is everything a good comfort food should be – filling, satisfying and something you want seconds of.

Recipe (Sauce):

  • 1 can or box crushed tomatoes (~15 oz)
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano (I used fresh, but dried is ok too)
  • 1/4 -1/3 cup grated carrot
  • 1/2-2/3 cup grated zucchini
  • dash of wine (optional – whatever you have on hand will do)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • small handful grated pecorino cheese (<1/4 cup)
  • oil, salt and pepper

Heat oil in pan over medium heat. Once hot, add onion, garlic and oregano and cook, stirring, until soft – about 3 minutes. Add carrots and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add zucchini, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir and cook about two minutes.

If using, stir in wine to deglaze the pan and scrape any browned bits. Add tomatoes, sugar and a pinch more salt. Stir and raise heat to medium high. Cook until bubbly, then reduce heat and cook through another 2 minutes. Take off the heat and stir in cheese. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Lasagna:

  • 9 lasagna noodles (I like the no bake kind)
  • sauce (see above)
  • 1 15 oz container ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/3-1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cop grated pecorino

In a small bowl, combine ricotta, egg, salt and pepper and a small amount of mozzarella. Stir to combine.

In a 8 in square pan, spoon a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of the pan. Place three noodles on the bottom of the pan. (two will fit – I place a third in the middle over the seam because I like noodles, you can leave this one out if you want.) Layer on about 1/3 of the sauce. Layer 1/2 of ricotta over sauce and spread into thin layer. Top, in the opposite direction of the first noodles, three more noodles. Repeat sauce and cheese layer and top with another three noodles. Pour rest of sauce over the top and sprinkle mozzarella and pecorino over the top. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for about 45 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before cutting and service. (If you want browned cheese, uncover for the last ten minutes).

 

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