Thursday, February 18, 2010

Rosie Makes Lasagna.

A couple of months ago,
one of my readers, Ange from Wisconsin, Just Asked Rosie a question. Ange wanted me to make enchiladas and lasagna sometime. I did the enchiladas last month and yesterday I made a kick-ass lasagna. And Ange and anybody else who's interested, I'll be making more enchiladas in the future. Our Seafood Cooking Series at the North Carolina Aquarium starts next week and first thing on the menu is Rockfish Enchiladas. Now, let's get started with the lasagna. First the pasta. What? You didn't actually think Rosie would use boxed lasagna noodles did you?
The directions that came with my pasta maker called for 1 pound of flour and possibly 5 eggs.
I made a well in the flour and cracked in 3 eggs to start.
Stir to combine. And I added the 4th egg.
I turned the gloppy mess onto my cutting board and started kneading.
Instead of the 5th egg, I added a tablespoon or two of olive oil to the ball of dough and kept kneading.
Keep kneading until you have a nice, smooth ball. Cover and let rest for a few minutes.
After letting the dough rest, I sliced it into pieces.
Starting at the widest setting, #1, on my pasta machine, I ran the dough through one time, then ran it through a second time from the opposite end. I folded the dough in half and ran it back through the largest setting two more times. Then I set the pasta machine at the #2 setting and ran it through again twice. Then twice at the #3 setting. Twice at the #4 setting. And once at the #5 setting. At each setting, flour liberally. My pasta maker has settings 6 and 7 but I thought I'd stop while still ahead.
Takes a little practice and four hands but it's worth it. It helps to have somebody crank while you hold either end.
I cut the long strips into sheets which would fit my baking dish.
I generously sprinkled flour on each sheet of wax paper and added the pasta, sprinkling more flour on top so it wouldn't stick. Cover and let sit until ready to cook. Next, the ingredients for my lasagna:
Lasagna ingredients: 1 lb. ground beef 1 lb. Italian sausage, chopped 2 1/2 oz. prosciutto, chopped 2 oz. pancetta, chopped 4 garlic cloves, minced 1 onion, chopped 1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes 1 15-oz. can tomato sauce 1 6-oz. can tomato paste 6 oz. water to wash out all the paste left in the can 1 TB sugar 1 tsp oregano 1 tsp Italian seasoning 1 tsp fennel 1 tsp salt 2 - 3 TB fresh parsley, chopped Add a little olive oil to your pan and start browning the meat, chopping it up. After a few minutes, add in the garlic and onions. When meat is browned, drain the oil out of the pan. Add in the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, water, and seasonings. Cover and barely simmer, stirring occasionally for 2 hours.
First, I chopped the prosciutto, pancetta, and Italian sausage.
Chopped onion and minced garlic.
Brown all the meats in a bit of olive oil, breaking the meat up as you go along.
Add in onions and garlic.
When the meat is browned, set the pan at an angle and let it drain. Sop up the grease with a paper towel.
Large can of crushed tomatoes goes in.
Can of tomato sauce.
Can of tomato paste.
Add water to the can and swirl around to get all the paste out.
Stir to combine.
Tablespoon of sugar.
Teaspoon of oregano.
Teaspoon Italian seasoning.
Teaspoon salt.
Teaspoon fennel.
I chopped about 5-6 TB of parsley from the garden.
Two-three tablespoons of parsley.
I couldn't decide which picture I liked better, so you're getting both. Stir, cover, and barely simmer for 2 hours. Stir occasionally. While the lasagna sauce was cooking, I prepared a ricotta filling.
Ricotta filling: ricotta (2 lb. container) 3 TB parsley 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg 1 egg 1 tsp salt
Combine all ingredients.
Mix well.
Ricotta is kind of bland, so as an afterthought, I added in a teaspoon of salt. Cover and refrigerate until assembly.
Now, I'm ready to cook my pasta.
And I'm very happy with my little sheer sheets.
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add in your pasta.
Stir. Homemade noodles cook a lot quicker than store bought. I drained these after about 5 minutes.
And I added a little olive oil and tossed a bit so they wouldn't stick.
Now I'm ready for assembly. Right foreground is my pasta. Back right is my pot of sauce. Bowl on the left is ricotta mixture. Cutting board in the middle is about 2 cups grated parmesan. Cutting board in back is 1 pound of mozzarella, grated.
First, a layer of my sauce in the bottom of the pan.
Then a layer of noodles on top of the sauce.
Next half of the ricotta mixture. Spread evenly over lasagna.
A third of mozzarella and parmesan on top of the ricotta.
Another layer of pasta.
A layer of sauce.
Smooth it out and add a layer of pasta.
The rest of the ricotta.
Half of the remaining mozzarella and parmesan.
A final layer of pasta with a thin layer of sauce.
The last of the mozzarella and parmesan.
This went into a 350 degree oven. I covered it with foil, using toothpicks so it wouldn't touch the cheese, and baked for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the foil and cook for another 25-30 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and brown.
And, ladies and gentlemen, we have lasagna.
Oh yes.
This was excellent. There's just nothing like fresh noodles. They taste ... fresh.
All the flavors came together very nicely. Before when I've made lasagna, I only used hamburger meat. I really loved the layers of flavors provided by the Italian sausage, the prosciutto, and the pancetta. The extra meats gave this sauce richness and depth.
Thank you, Ange I hope you enjoy this.
And remember, everyone, if you have any culinary questions, please do not hesitate to Just Ask Rosie at I'll do my best to answer.


Marilyn said...

Looks yummy.

Oddly enough, lasgna is on the menu for tomorrow night's dinner. I will not be making fresh pasta, though.

Anonymous said...

Holy crap Rosie. I will NOT be showing this to my husband as I don't see making my own pasta anytime soon. But, wow...did that look good. Our recipes are similar...cheese layer, meat layer, repeat. Being from WI, Cheese is the star.

Thank you again so very much for your effort. I love challenging you & you never disappoint!
Love, Ange in WI

Rosie Hawthorne said...

Ange, so glad you likee.

Go ahead and be a semi-ho and use the dreaded boxed pasta.
It's perfectly acceptable.
I do it all the time.

I do think salt in the ricotta is a good thing.

Also the sugar in the tomato sauce to tame the acidity of the tomatoes is a good thing.
Perhaps more than 1 TB depending on what flavors you have going on in there.

Anonymous said...

Please save some for me!

Anonymous said...

Please save some for me!

Kathy said...

Please save some for me!

ps - my word verification was "tallunt", 'cause you sure got some ;-)

Rocquie said...

Lasagna is a labor of love, especially when you make your own pasta. You must have spent an entire day in the kitchen for this one. It looks and sounds so scrumptious and I hope you and your family enjoyed it. I bet the leftovers were even better!

Anonymous said...

My pasta maker is sitting on the counter waiting to be used. You have given me the inspiration to make fresh noodles this weekend. (You are so right about it taking 4 hands! It is much more difficult than I had anticipated.) The lasagna looks absolutely delicious.

kadywood said...

Homemade pasta looks like it's worth the extra effort. I've never tried homemade. How long does the pasta stay fresh before using/cooking it?

Rosie Hawthorne said...

Kadywood, good question. I would go ahead and cook it immediately. That's the whole point of making your own. If you want to save some for another day, then wrap it well and refrigerate and use within a day or two.

Rosie Hawthorne said...

Kadywood, I found this:
"After dough is shaped, use immediately or let it dry in a single layer for several hours or overnight. Once it’s dried, you can refrigerate it for a few days or freeze,"


Rosie Hawthorne said...

Here's more, Kadywood:


If you plan to refrigerate or freeze fresh noodles, spread them out on clean dry tea towels, or hang them on drying racks or the backs of chairs for 15-20 minutes. (You can buy folding pasta-drying racks, or improvise with dowels hung from hooks below your kitchen cupboards.)

Some cooks freeze pasta uncooked, but others recommend "blanching" the pasta in boiling salted water for 15 seconds, then immersing them in ice water immediately. The drained noodles are then frozen in plastic bags. (This blanching method is recommended for frozen ravioli and other stuffed pasta.)

Either way, the frozen pasta is dropped into boiling, salted water and cooked just until the pasta floats, then drained and served immediately.

Cook lasagne or cannelloni noodles before freezing or refrigerating (cannelloni are simply 4" squares of pasta that are rolled around a filling). Cook as directed in the recipe, then drain and immerse immediately in ice water. Drain and dry briefly on clean tea towels. Layer the noodles with waxed paper in rigid plastic containers and cover tightly. These will keep refrigerated for almost a week, or can be frozen a couple of months.

If you want to dry your homemade pasta, drying racks are the best way to insure even drying, which is an absolute necessity to prevent molding. You will have to dry them for at least 24 hours. When you are sure that the pasta is dry all the way through, you can store it in metal cookie tins or rigid plastic storage containers for about a month. Dried homemade pasta takes only a few seconds longer than fresh to cook.

Personally, I prefer freezing, because the pasta is more like the fresh product. But I usually make pasta fresh each time, because it's a treat and it really doesn't take very long to make, once you get the hang of it."