Sunday, January 13, 2008

Taste & Create 5: Ricotta and Besciamella Lasagna

Can you believe that we're already finishing up Taste & Create 5? That's nuts!! I can't believe that time has flown so quickly! Quickly and tastily!!

This time around, the lovely Nicole paired me with the much-loved Dolores of Chronicles of Culinary Curiosity! I enjoy her blog because I feel like she lets you in, shares about herself in a way that you long for more... I look forward to each new post because she artfully and engagingly relates it to herself or her life.. and gives you something to think about in the process. (That, and she's darn funny!!)

I went back months and months of Dolores's blog. I searched and searched and really, when it came down to it, what I really wanted to make was something I'd read about recently. In much the same way the lasagna bug bit her, it bit me. Her tale about wanting the perfect recipe spoke to me (but not as much as the delicious photo spoke to me!)

Now, its been a looooong time since I've made lasagna. So long, I can't remember making it. I used to make manicotti every New Years Day (I've switched to making fried ravioli, hopefully I'll show that to you soon), so I guess that's close. I've never made a bechamel before, I know that to be true.

I don't know if you're like I was and thought lasagna was hard or complicated or time consuming. I can tell you, happily, that it doesn't have to be. Each component came together super fast... the sauce was a snap, the filling easy-peasy... the bechamel easy, too... though, mine was really really really thick, and I want to say that it shouldn't have been like that... that the bechamel's I've seen on tv have been smooth and flowy... not mine... it was thick like pudding... super-thick pudding... I kinda smeared it around during assembly, and I couldn't taste it being thick... so... who cares! :) I used fresh pasta sheets, because I don't like how weird and squidgy lasagna sheets get when you boil them. I also used fire-roasted crushed tomatoes (because that's what the grocer had - and omg, yum!) My only change for next time would be to make MORE tomato sauce. I had to have a sauceless layer towards the end, so that I'd have enough to top it off with. You can't tell in the finished product, but I know it's in there. (Not to mention, the sauce was amazing on fresh mozzarella alone!) :)

I can't tell you how excited I am to have so much leftover, too! I think I am going to put a bunch away in the freezer for a easy, delicious future meal... and we'll STILL have some for lunches this week. YUM!

My thanks to Dolores for a tasty recipe and to Nicole for bringing us together!


Ricotta and Besciamella Lasagna
c/o Dolores at Chronicles of Culinary Curiosity
http://culinarycuriosity.blogspot.com/2007/12/cibo-di-benessere-i-celebrazione.html
sourced from Maryann at http://findingladolcevita.blogspot.com/2007/09/ricotta-and-besciamella-lasagna.html

This recipe will make a 12x12 pan of lasagna.

Marinara Sauce:
Olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
Dash dried oregano, to taste
Dash dried basil, to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Besciamella Sauce:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
7 tablespoons flour
Pinch salt
2 cups milk, scalded
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch white pepper

Filling:
15 ounces ricotta cheese
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ fresh parsley, chopped
2 eggs
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Lasagna sheets, either redi-cook or boiled, softened lasagna sheets)
Grated Parmesan
Grated Mozzarella

First, make the Marinara sauce: In a sauce pan, drizzle a little olive oil and add chopped garlic cloves. Cook until transparent. Add crushed tomatoes, dried oregano, dried basil, salt and pepper to taste. Turn heat down and simmer, stirring often. While that is cooking down, make your besciamella.

Besciamella Sauce: In a sauce pan, melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk constantly for a few minutes, careful not to burn it. Add a pinch of salt. Pour scalded milk into the flour mixture all at once and continue to whisk another 3-4 minutes until thickened. Add nutmeg and a bit of white pepper. Lay aside.

Prepare the ricotta filling: Mix all ingredients together to combine.

Assembly: Start by putting about 1/2 C marinara on bottom of pan so the lasagna doesn't stick. Layer the ingredients, repeating until the pan was full: pasta sheets, ricotta, besciamella, marinara, grated mozzarella. Repeat in this order ending with the pasta layer. Then top with marinara, grated parmesan, mozzarella, fresh parsley, and a light drizzle of olive oil.

Cover with foil and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 1 hour. Lasagna is done when a knife comes out clean. After the first 40-45 minutes, uncover to brown the top.

When done, cover and let the lasagna rest at least 30-60 minutes before serving. This gives it time to set.

5 comments:

Deborah said...

I've never made a lasagna with bechemel before, but I've always wanted to try one. This one sounds like a winner!

shannon said...

Hi Katie,

My name is Shannon and I'm the editorial assistant at Foodbuzz.com. I am very impressed with the quality of your posts and to that end, I’d like to invite you to be a part of our newly launched Foodbuzz Featured Publisher program. I would love to send you more details about the program, so if you are interested, please email me at Shannon@foodbuzz.com.

And congrats on conquering the lasagna! Now you will never have to worry again, and you have leftovers for life. =)

Cheers!

Shannon Eliot
Editorial Assistant, Foodbuzz.com
shannon@foodbuzz.com

Bellini Valli said...

Perfect entry to Taste & Create!! I can't wait to see ther lineup...should be today!!!

Dolores said...

I'm so-ooo glad that Maryann's lasagna worked as well for you as it did for me. Thanks for your kind words. It's kind of funny actually... I rarely know what direction a post is going to take until I'm actually writing it.

Maryann said...

Katie,
I just stumbled across your lasagna post. These things are hard to keep track of. I just want to say thank you and I'm glad you enjoyed the recipe. It looks great :)