Monday, November 7, 2011

Homemade pasta, lasagna

My original culinary inspiration, my mother, lives eight hours away.  The next best thing is her sister, my aunt, who lives about 15 minutes away.  We each have busy lives and don't get together too often, but we manage once in a blue moon.  One of our visits resulted in some beautiful, homemade spaghetti.  That was several years ago.  I have since made pasta with a fellow blogging friend and received a second -hand pasta maker from my aunt.  I've tried a few different things while making pasta, from pierogies to roasted red pepper linguini to lasagna.  I have to admit that making lasagna is my favourite, simply because lasagna noodles are so expensive.  I do love saving money.

Fast forward to the other day, when I was making a special meal for a special family member.  The request was made for lasagna.  The plan was to make fresh pasta, fresh sauce and freshly ground beef.  I set to work making the dough ahead of time, giving it plenty of time to rest. 

I went to pick up a fresh, lean roast from the store.  The accident on the nearby highway had locked up the traffic on the city streets, wasting about an hour from my lasagna prep time.  I got back in time to roll out the noodles and grind the meat, but the sauce would have to come from a can.

I made the white sauce that I like to substitute for ricotta cheese and quickly assembled my lasagna.  35 glorious minutes later it came out looking mouth-wateringly divine.
I had some leftover noodles so I cut them into bite-sized pieces and made a lasagna casserole.  (It's in the oven as I type.  I can hardly wait to taste it!)

Our special guest deemed it the best lasagna he has ever eaten (he's eaten quite a bit of lasagna in his years.)   My husband, when prodded, said it wasn't as good as the lasagna we had in Italy two years ago, but it was pretty good.  I can't compete with a whole country!

Wanda's Homemade Lasagna

3 1/3 cups flour
5 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
Combine in food processor (or by hand)  Add flour if needed.  Help it come together with your hand if necessary.  Allow dough to rest, greased in olive oil and wrapped in plastic wrap, for at least 30 minutes.  Cut into about 10-12 pieces to roll through pasta machine.  Drop a few pieces at a time into boiling water.  Hang until ready to use if not using immediately.  (They will stick together if you don't.  Try tossing with oil as they come out to decrease their chance of sticking if you can't hang to dry.)

Tomato Sauce
Saute 1/2 an onion in olive oil
Add 28 oz diced tomatoes
Season as desired.  I put in about 1 tsp oregano and basil, and salt and pepper to taste.  Add 2 cloves of garlic after sauce has cooked down somewhat.

Lasagna Alfredo Sauce
1/4 cup butter
3 tbsp flour
Make a roux with butter and flour.  Add enough milk to have a thick, spreadable sauce, maybe 1 cup.  Add 1/3 cup parmesan cheese and stir over low heat until cheese is incorporated.

Fry some ground beef with a generous sprinkle of oregano and basil.  Grate about 1 1/2 cups of mozzarella cheese.  Put some tomato sauce on bottom of 9x13 pan.  Put a layer of noodles until bottom is covered.  Spread 1/3 of remaining sauce.  Top with 1/2 of the beef and 1/2 cup cheese.  Put a layer of noodles and spread all of the alfredo sauce over it.  Top with noodles again.  Spread 1/2 of remaining tomato sauce and sprinkle the remaining beef over it.  Top with 1/2 cup of cheese and the final layer of noodles.  Spread the remaining sauce and then cheese over the noodles.  Bake uncovered at 350 F for 30-40 minutes.  Allow to rest at least 10 minutes before cutting so the layers can settle into each other.

Lasagna Casserole

Toss the remaining noodles (cut to bite-sized) with 1 recipe of tomato sauce, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, 1 lb ground beef (seasoned).  Pour into a large baking dish.  Top with lasagna alfredo sauce and 1/2 cup cheese.  Bake at 350 F for 30-40 minutes.

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