Sometimes I think I should have been born Italian. Not because I am some great Italian cook or anything, just because I love really good Italian food. Dinner tonight was a personal challenge for me because I went up against three people who hate lasagna. Who hates lasagna seriously? I love lasagna but was determined to make a lasagna that they actually liked and would willingly eat again. This is also my first ever from scratch not cheating lasagna. By not cheating I mean I used the boil before you assemble noodles not the kind that cook in the oven...those never worked for me. I also never put very much time into my cheater lasagna because I knew I'd be the only one eating it. I'll tell you if they liked it or not at the end. So for starters:
Loaf of good Ciabatta bread
Fresh vine ripe tomatoes
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and fresh cracked pepper
Slice the bread and toast in oven until toasted the way you like it. Top with a slice of fresh mozzarella, a slice of tomato, a fresh basil leaf and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Top with a little course salt and fresh cracked pepper!
Yum! If you've never tried this, you really need to. It's delicious! It's normally also topped with a little bit of balsamic vinegar but I didn't have any. It's just as good without.
I don't know why, but I can only cook for an army after having so many people staying here. I can't cook normal portions anymore so this is a giant batch of lasagna..okay two 9x13 pans full. I made one with hamburger and one with ground boca (hamburger substitute).
Kelsie's awesome from scratch lasagna (with and without meat):
Half a giant softball size onion diced (or 1 or 2 small to medium onions)
Lots of garlic, depends on personal preference (I used two giant cloves and 3 regular cloves)
Handful of fresh basil leaves
Salt and Pepper
3 large cans of diced tomatoes
1 large can of pureed tomatoes
Extra virgin olive oil
Coat the bottom of a large saucepan (it has to hold all the tomatoes at well) with olive oil. Saute onions with a good sprinkle of salt and pepper. Mince the garlic and add to onions. (I use a microplane and just grate the garlic right over the pan. It's so much easier!). Throw in handful of fresh basil leaves, a few pinches of oregano (be careful, it's really strong) and about a tablespoon or so of dried basil. Add all the tomatoes and stir. Drizzle in a good amount of olive oil and let the sauce heat up stirring occasionally. Just let it bubble in the background while you do everything else.
Noodles that you boil yourself, not oven ready kind (unless you have more patience than me and will actually wait for them to finish cooking in the oven)
Really awesome fresh tomato sauce (see above)
1+ pounds of browned hamburger
2 packages of ground boca
Fresh parmesan cheese
Boil noodles according to box instructions. Brown hamburger. (I had one large pan with hamburger and one large pan with ground boca, you don't need both if your just making the regular meat) When your hamburger is finished browning in one pan and the boca is warmed up in the other, split the tomato sauce equally into both pans and stir. In your 9x13 pans put just enough sauce at the bottom so the noodles won't stick, cover the entire bottom with noodles. Cover with sauce, ricotta (kind of mix it into the sauce so it's not so strong), a good layer of mozzarella and then a layer of parmesan. Repeat layer. After second layer is finished top with noodles again, a little bit of sauce and then cover with a good amount of mozzarella and parmesan. Cover with tin foil and let bake until cheese is melted and bubbly! Let sit 15 minutes before you cut and serve, this will let the juices settle and it won't run all over the place.
Serve with an awesome salad and garlic bread! Yum!
Comments from the lasagna haters in my house:
Kacean: "You're Golden!" = You're good, this is really good and I'd eat it again
Dallan: (failed to tell me he even hated lasagna until after he ate it) Liked it and would eat it again
Mart: Liked it and would eat it again
Ber: (Not a lasagna hater) said it was better than Olive Garden (which she had for lunch the same day!)
I don't know how many of you know, but my sister in law Kacean recently graduated from the Western Culinary Institute where she was studying to be a pastry chef. She's currently working at the Marriot hoping to be hired on in the resturant as soon as it opens the end of May. She baked us a lemon chiffon cake with cream cheese frosting for dessert. It was really good and I don't really like cake all that much.
It says "Rawr means I love you in dinosaur".