Lasagna Our Way


Everybody makes lasagna, but we wanted to share our way of making it. You can add meat, but this is vegetable lasagna. You don't need to be a baker or cook to make outstanding lasagna. All you have to do is enjoying playing with food. And in this case it is really "hands on the arts."

 

The first step to making lasagna is buying/assembling the ingredients. You'll need 15 ounces of ricotta cheese (unless you are making a cheese cake which is what we did with the large container), a 1 pint tub of freshly grated romano or parmesan or a romano parmesan cheese blend (.63 pounds/10 ounces), a bag of chopped frozen spinach, mozzarella cheese, a big can of marinara sauce, and a box of lasagna pasta. You can optionally spice with nutmeg and pepper.

(Editorial Note: We have found DeBoles lasagna pasta not up to the task. But, you can make your own brand decisions.)

Pre-cook the defrosted spinach in a microwave oven for about 2 - 3 minutes, just until wilted. You could also steam the spinach. When cool enough to be comfortable, squeeze virtually all of the water out. You will want the spinach as dry as possible.

This is the time to un-earth that shallow, chicken skillet you thought you needed but hardly ever use. Fill 3/4 with water, and set it over the heat to boil.

When the water is boiling, put in the lasagna pasta one at a time, ensuring that the pieces do not stick together. It is best to lay the pasta in all different directions.

Cook the pasta for 3/4 of the time recommended by the manufacturer. If there are broken pieces, cook them as well. Lasagna patches well.

 

Rinse the lasagna in plenty of cold water. When cool, remove each lasagna strip, squeegee off the water with the sides of your index and middle fingers, pinched together. (Note: your hand will be flat.)

Place the lasagna strips on a cookie rack and daub as dry as possible with a paper or cloth towel. You will do this to both sides. This is picky work, but dry pasta and dryish spinach will make it so that your lasagna is not diluted with a thin, runny, watery, sauce.

Coat the bottom of your 9" X 13" metal or glass baking dish with a generous amount of sauce. This will help the lasagna release from the pan when you serve it. Put down a row of pasta and cover it thinly with sauce.

Sprinkle the spinach over the sauce. If you want to add cooked crumbled sausage, here is the place to do it.

Place small blobs - perhaps 1/2 teaspoon - of ricotta cheese over the pasta. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. The trick is to not over-do any ingredient.

Sprinkle with the freshly grated romano or parmesan or a romano parmesan blend. You could also use a little freshly ground pepper and/or nutmeg.

Now, here is the family secret which was shown to us by a master lasagna maker: put down the next layer of pasta and press down firmly. You don't want to squish out the cheese and sauce, but push firmly to distribute all of the ingredients and exclude voids. You want a very compact lasagna when you are done. Do this for every pasta layer except for the first which rests on the bottom of the pan that has been lubricated with sauce.

Continue to add layers, one on top of the other. Horizontally, there should be small spaces between the stacks of pasta:

|<---->| |<---->| |<---->|

|<---->| |<---->| |<---->|

|<---->| |<---->| |<---->|

 

Keep adding layers. If you have one or two pieces of pasta left over for an incomplete layer, go ahead and add that incomplete layer. The lasagna does not need to have the same number of pasta pieces per layer. Also, if some of the pasta is broken, piece it together like a jigsaw puzzle. Put the broken pieces on top layer where you can be a bit more liberal with the structural integrity.

Top the last layer with cheese and finally some sauce.

Unless you like to clean your oven, place the lasagna pan into a larger pan to catch possible drips. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and bake at 375° F - 400° F for about 50 minutes until bubbly. Uncover and brown the top for an additional 10 minutes. Be careful because you don't want to top to look dry and unappetizing.

Allow the lasagna to cool for 10 - 15 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!