Saturday, December 6, 2008

Family Dinners- Lasagna!

It's funny how different meals work their way in and out of the usual dinner rotation. An old favorite somehow drops off the radar for a while, only to be rediscovered months (years?) later. My lasagna is like that- I used to make it frequently back in high school. But it was such a pain! Boiling the noodles (and wrestling those slippery suckers into the dish), mom's sauce that took seemingly forever, ALL those pots to wash! Oh, but was it good! AudioDad loved it, so I made it for him often once we got married- I remember it was even harder in that teeny apartment kitchen that had NO counter space- I had enough space for a dish-drying rack, and a free-standing butcher block that was about one and a half feet square.
Later I found a recipe that uses no-boil noodles. It was SO much easier! And just as, better than my previous recipe. And it seems to come together in a jiffy! Now that it's back in the rotation, I'm making it just about once a week!

1 tbs. olive oil (I just do 1 swirl around the pan)
1 medium onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 c. heavy cream
28 oz. can tomato puree
28 oz. diced tomatoes, drained (do NOT forget to drain!)

Other ingredients to layer:
15 oz. ricotta cheese
1 1/2 c. Parmesan cheese, I like to use a combination of grated and shredded
1/2 c. chopped fresh basil (I just use a heaping pinch of dried)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
9 oz. package Barilla no-boil lasagna noodles
4 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat oil in a large saucepan (I use a 4 qt.) over medium high heat and add onion. Cook, stirring occasionally until onion is softened but not browned, about 2 min. Add the garlic and cook another 2 min. Crumble ground beef into onion mixture and add salt and pepper. Cook, breaking meat into small pieces until meat loses its raw color but has not yet browned, about 4 min. Pour in cream and simmer, stirring occasionally, until liquid evaporates and only fat remains, about 4 min. Stir in the pureed tomatoes and the drained diced tomatoes. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to low. Simmer gently about 5 more minutes, then remove from heat and set sauce aside.
In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, 1 c. Parmesan, basil, egg, salt, and pepper. Set aside. Assemble first lasagna layer in a deep 9x13 baking dish, starting with sauce smeared on bottom of dish. Place 4 lasagna noodle sheets on top of sauce, then dollop 3-4 scant tablespoons of the ricotta mixture onto the noodles, spread over noodles with spoon, then sprinkle with 1 cup of the shredded mozzarella (about 2-3 handfuls) and a shake of the grated Parmesan. Ladle 1 1/2 c. meat sauce over cheese layer, then repeat layering of noodles, cheeses, and sauce two more times. Place remaining 4 noodles on top of sauce, spread remaining sauce over noodles, sprinkle with remaining cup of mozzarella, then the remaining 1/4 cup or so of Parmesan. Lightly spray a sheet of foil with nonstick cooking spray and cover lasagna. Bake 15 min. then remove foil. Return lasagna to oven and bake, uncovered about 25 more minutes until the cheese is beginning to brown and sauce is bubbling. Remove from oven and cool 10 min. before serving.

We were in such a hurry to eat that I forgot to take a picture of it before digging in!

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