Friday, September 12, 2008

Lasagna, mmmmmm...

Thanks to my cousin Steve, in Hawaii, for getting my oven going again! Arizona has just been way too hot to be cooking, let alone turning on the oven for some "real dinner's". We had some "cooler" temps here this week- high 90's! But when you're used to the triple digit's for months on end, the 90's can seem pretty darn cool!

Well, Steve has been emailing me to share my lasagna recipe with him. To me, it's not really a recipe, just some pasta and sauce that my Mom has been putting together for years, now with my little spin on it- which happens to be with short ribs, mmmmm...

I love to make my lasagna with home made ricotta cheese . It is extremely easy. But no matter how easy, some people aren't willing to venture out on that limb. So my recipe uses just the good ol Kroger Brand, although my all time store fav is Polly-O , which is available in many grocery stores these days, but can be a little on the pricey side. The same with their mozzarella cheese.

No matter which brand you decide to use I've found that unless you have the most discerning of tastes, it's doubtful your family and friends will notice much of a difference. Give this recipe a try...


2 boxes Barilla brand no boil lasagna sheets

2 -3 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese

2 large containers whole milk ricotta cheese

2 eggs, beaten

1/3 bunch of fresh Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (Kraft or fresh, either is fine)



2 to 3 jars of your favorite tomato sauce (basil flavor is terrific!)

2 small cans tomato paste, any kind

2 or 3 cloves fresh garlic, chopped

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

Olive oil

1 lb bulk Italian sausage, or links, with casings removed

Optional: Instead of sausage, use 4 good size beef short ribs

Good bottle of red wine

In a large pot (big enough to hold all sauce), put enough olive oil to cover bottom of pan. Heat to medium, and add onions. Saute till they look a bit translucent, then add your garlic and continue to saute, about 2-3 minutes.

At this point add your sausage or short ribs- or both (Yum-O)! Cook till nicely browned and caramelized on all sides. Then stir in your tomato paste- will be thick! Then add your jars of sauce. You can never have enough sauce- it can always be frozen for later. Give a good stir, turn down to low, and let simmer for about 2 to 3 hours, stirring every 10-15 minute or so. This will allow that nice beefy flavor of the ribs to develop, and let the short ribs get nice and tender. Once they are tender and falling off the bone, remove the bones and shred the beef, leaving in the sauce. At this point you can determine if your sauce needs salt. I always leave that to the end, as jarred sauce has higher sodium content. You can also add whatever additional spices you want at this point… some like red pepper flakes, or more garlic; it’s up to you. Turn off heat and let sit.

In a medium bowl, add ricotta cheese. Add about 1 cup of shredded mozzarella. Then eggs, parsley, nutmeg, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste- don’t be afraid to taste! Mix well.

In a deep pan, roughly about 13x9, pour enough sauce to coat bottom. Layer lasagna sheets to cover pan, slightly overlapping. You may even have to break a few to fit properly. With a spoon or spatula, spread ricotta cheese mixture (about 1/4 thick) completely over the pasta. Pour a generous amount of sauce over the ricotta mixture. Then layer with pasta again, and continue to the top of the pan, ending with the pasta sheets and only sauce on the sheets, no ricotta.

Bake in oven, about 50-60 minutes. The last 10 minutes of baking, cover the top of lasagna with remaining shredded mozzarella. This way it doesn’t over cook and get tough. Or, you can use slices of smoked provolone- so good!

I don't usually measure my ingredients. So, all are approximate- if you want more onion, add it. Hate garlic- take it out. Play with your food, you’re in control! Oh, you may have noticed an ingredient that wasn’t used- the red wine. I love to cook with wine- sometimes I even put it in the food, hehehehe… The lasagna always tastes better if you have a glass or two… lol…

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