Monday, January 23, 2012

Serving Up {Pasta}: Classic Lasagna

One thing I know to be true, it is nearly impossible to photograph lasagna and have the photo look anything close to appetizing.  I get it.  But please stick with me past the photos and believe me that this is the lasagna recipe that you have been dying to make.

I have a total crush on Mel's Kitchen Cafe and this is just one more of her absolute, dead-on recipes that will make you have a crush on her too!  I have always thought that lasagna had to either have cottage cheese or ricotta cheese - not so!  This is a true Italian recipe and that gorgeous layer of white throughout the layers of noodles is not ricotta or cottage cheese - it is a creamy, luscious white sauce!  Brilliant!

I will admit that this recipe takes bit of time to put together - more of a "company is coming over" than a "I need to throw something together for the kids!".  You make a yummy red sauce, while that simmers you make a delicious white sauce and then you layer them both amongst noodles and cheeses.  YUM!  So worth the time and the dirty dishes...I promise I will wash your dishes for you if you don't think so :)

(recipe from Mel's Kitchen Cafe)
printable version

Red Sauce
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. butter
4 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced
1/2 large onion, diced
8 ounces mushrooms, chopped
2 (8-ounce) cans tomato sauce
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained (my family prefers petite diced tomatoes)
2 tsp. Italian seasoning (or a mix of dried oregano and basil)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

White Sauce
3 cups milk (I always use whole milk)
5 Tbs. flour
4 Tbs. butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

9 lasagna noodles, boiled for half the time on the box (or use 12 of the no-boil noodles)
1 pound ground turkey (sausage is a yummy substitution)
1 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded
8 ounces Parmesan cheese, shredded

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9x13 dish.

In a large skillet, crumble and brown the ground turkey until no longer pink. Drain the grease and set aside.

In a medium saucepan head 2 tablespoons olive oil and one tablespoon butter; adding a pinch of salt and pepper. When the oil/butter is hot, add the garlic and stir constantly, cooking until the garlic is lightly browned.  Add the onion and mushrooms and continue cooking until all of the vegetables are soft and browned and the fluid has mostly cooked out. Remove from the heat.  Place the cooked vegetables in your blender and add the tomato sauce and the tomato paste.  Pulse until the vegetables are pureed and well combined with the tomato sauce/puree.  Return the tomato/vegetable mixture to the pot and add the diced tomatoes, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Bring just to a boil and then reduce heat, cover and let the sauce sauce simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Right before using the red sauce in the lasagna, stir in the reserved ground turkey.

If using lasagna noodles that need to be boiled, bring a large pot of salted water to boil and boil the noodles for one-half of  the time suggested on the box.  Once cooked, drain the noodles, but do not rinse them.  Add just a dab of olive oil to keep the noodles from sticking together.
Skip this step if using no-boil noodles.

While the noodles boil and the red sauce is simmering, prepare the white sauce by melting the four tablespoons of butter in a saucepan.  When the butter has melted, add the flour and stir constantly to combine.  Allow the mixture to cook while stirring for a minute or two. Gradually add in the milk, whisking constantly. Add the salt and pepper. Slowly whisk the white sauce, ensuring it doesn't burn on the bottom of the pan, while cooking it over medium heat for 5-7 minutes or until it has thickened significantly.

Prepare to layer the lasagna by combining the shredded cheese.
Make sure you have added the cooked ground turkey to the red sauce.
On the bottom of your lightly greased baking dish, place three boiled noodles (or four no-boil noodles), follow with 1/3 of the red sauce, 1/3 of the white sauce and 1/3 of the shredded cheese mixture.  Repeat the layers, in the same order, two more times.

Cover the lasagna with a greased piece of aluminum foil and bake in your preheated oven for 30 minutes.  Remove the foil and let the lasagna sit for 10-15 minutes before cutting and serving.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad lasagna is a staple Italian dinner. It tastes so good. I thoroughly enjoy Italian food. You know, a good olive dip is worth checking out to compliment any of your Italian styled meals. Just by searching online you can find some really good olive dip recipes. Either add or remove from the recipe to make it your own, or try it just as is, you can't lose.