Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Lasagna - The Old School Way

Yes, I understand that the above photo is more like spaghetti than lasagne, but we made them on the same day. And, while the lasagne looked (and tasted, I might add) fantastic, this photo won out. Surely, you can see why.

This dish is a labor of love. Feel free to incorporate only the "scratch" parts that interest you. For example, if you are much too tired to make pasta, use store-bought, but find the time to make the sauce. You get the idea.

The pasta recipe below will make about twice as much as you will need for this dish. You can either cut the recipe in half, or reserve the extra for making ravioli or spaghetti. It's probably better to go for the extra dough since you are already in the process of making pasta. Dry the noodles by hanging them over a rod, and then store in the freezer.

When you assemble the lasagne, don't fret too much about the layering. If I have failed to clearly articulate the idea, just be sure to end with a nice coating of sauce topped with a hearty dose of cheese - that's really all that matters!

Tomato Sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
15 plum tomatoes, cored, halved, and squeezed free of seeds
Bouquet garni - sprig of thyme, sprig fresh oregano, 1 dried bay leaf (tied with twine)
1 cup red wine
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 bunch basil, finely chopped

1. Set the oven at 400 degrees. In a large flameproof casserole, heat olive oil over high heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or until the onions start to become tender.
2. Add red pepper flakes, toasting for 1 minute to release the aromas.
3. Add tomatoes, bouquet garni, wine, and black pepper. Bring liquid to a boil.
4. Place the casserole in the oven, and cook for 45 minutes.
5. Stir, breaking up any large chunks. Season with salt and pepper. Remove and discard bouquet garni. Stir in basil.

Roasted Eggplant

2 medium eggplants
Olive oil, for drizzling
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Make sure the oven is still set at 400 degrees. Remove the top and bottom of each eggplant; discard. Cut both into 1/2 inch slices.
2. Place a wire cooling rack on a baking sheet. Lay out the slices of eggplant (it's ok if they overlap slightly). Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
3. Bake for 25 minutes or until tender.


6 1/4 cup skim milk
1 cup plain goat's milk yogurt (ok to sub cow's milk)
1 3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup parmesan cheese

1. In a large pot, slowly bring milk, yogurt, cream, vinegar, and salt to a boil. Boil lightly for 2 minutes or until you can see visible curds forming.
2. Spoon the curds into a fine mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth. Pour the remaining liquid over the curds. Wrap the cheesecloth around the ricotta and squeeze to drain. Place a weighted object over the top and leave to drain for 30 minutes.
3. Stir in oregano, egg, and parmesan.

Whole Wheat Pasta

3 cups whole wheat pasta
1 cup all purpose flour
4 eggs
3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil
Pinch salt
Flour, for kneading

1. In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine all of the ingredients. Mix on medium speed for 3 to 4 minutes or until the dough forms a ball.
2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for a minute or 2, or until the surface of the dough is smooth. Cover with plastic, and let it rest 10 minutes.
3. Using a pasta roller or a rolling pin, cut the dough into sections and roll to a paper thin consistency. (On our machine, this was #5, with 7 being the thinnest.) Cut the rolled dough into 12 pieces that are 3 inches by 9 inches. As you complete them, lay the pieces on a plate with waxed paper or parchment between each layer.

Lasagne assembly

Olive oil, for greasing
2 cups mozzarella
1/4 cup parmesan cheese

1. Set the oven to 350. Grease a 9x9 baking pan.
2. Begin by spooning 1/5 of the tomato sauce into the pan, spreading it to the edges. Top the sauce with three pieces of pasta, laid side by side to form a complete layer. Sprinkle 1/4 of the ricotta and some mozzarella on top of the pasta. Lay approximately 5 slices of eggplant across the cheese. Begin again with the sauce, and repeat until the pan is full. You should have 5 layers of sauce, 4 layers of pasta, 4 layers of ricotta, and 3 layers of eggplant. You will not use a fourth layer of eggplant, instead ending with sauce and the remaining mozzarella. Sprinkle the parmesan over the top.
3. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is golden and crunchy.
4. Cool 5 minutes before slicing.


  1. love the photos of the pasta... just made lasagna noodles myself today... not as pretty as they could be but... I know they will taste great!

  2. sometimes, it's not about being pretty ;)