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Topic: lasagna  (Read 1665 times)
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Strange Grounds
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Strange Grounds Coffee, 1417 S Broadway, Denver CO

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« on: April 08, 2008 10:31:43 AM »

I make lasagna about twice a month, and it is quite impressive, but it is also a lot of work. Here is my recipe.

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup semolina flour
3 large eggs
pinch of kosher salt
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 teaspoons prepared pesto sauce
On a clean work surface, make a pile of the flours and salt. Make a well in the centre and add eggs, oil, and pesto, then start mixing it with a fork, incorporating the wet into the dry slowly. The dough will seem dry, and if you are at a higher elevation (i live in denver, so i do) you may need to add an extra tablespoon of water. The dough should be a bit shaggy, just keep at mixing it together until it is somewhat cohesive. Then, knead 10 minutes. The dough should be smooth and elastic, by the time you are done. You can do this with a kitchenaid standing mixer with the dough hook, but I've done it by hand many times. After you have kneaded the dough for no less than ten, and no more than fifteen minutes, wrap tightly with plastic wrap (or put it in a ziploc bag) and let it rest at room temperature while you move on to the sauce. It must rest for at least 30 minutes, but no more than 4 hours unrefrigerated. If you are doing this dough prep ahead of time it may rest in the refrigerator overnight, tightly wrapped.
1 large can crushed tomatoes (or two 14 oz cans)
1 14 oz can stewed tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
1 large onion, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and diced small
4 white mushrooms, sliced thin
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 small zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch slices
capers (about 1/4 of a 4 oz jar, rinse them well and then crush them)
dry red wine (I like Bolla Valpoilicella for cooking, its dry, not sweet, and it really compliments red meats well, also its relatively inexpensive and available at most grocery stores)
extra virgin olive oil
Prepared pesto sauce (Classico brand is perfectly acceptable)
2 (uncooked) italian sausages (medium or spicy)
In a large saute pan with a lid, heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil to med/high (smoking point) and saute (I cannot spell, I'm sorry) onions and bell pepper until translucent. Remove skin from sausage and add to the pan, in chunks. As it is most likely pork sausage (and has a different texture than beef when fried, not crumbly) you will want to add small pieces slowly or break it up with a spatula quickly before it cooks through. Fry until Sausage is about halfway cooked, 3 minutes. Reduce heat slightly and add garlic and capers to the pan, stirring constantly. The LAST thing you want is burned garlic, but if you agitate the mixture in the pan sufficiently that should not be a problem. When the garlic seems to be starting to soften (after 2 or 3 minutes) you can now add the crushed and stewed tomatoes. (I like to chop the stewed tomatoes finer before I add them to the sauce, but if you like chunkier sauce then it's not necessary.) Stir well, and then add the tomato paste. Bring to a gentle boil (Careful! Tomato sauces and have a lower boiling point than you might expect and can get splashy and burney!) Now, add 1/2 cup red wine, 2 tablespoons prepared pesto sauce, zucchini, mushrooms and 1/2 cup water. Stir well, bring to a boil, and taste. This is a very tangy sauce. If it is too salty for your taste, add 1 teaspoon sugar. A few grinds of black pepper won't go amiss here either. If the sauce is too sweet for you, then add 1/4 teaspoon baking soda (trust me here) but ONLY if you have the time to let it simmer for an extra hour. If the sauce is too thick, add up to another half a cup water. Now, cover, reduce heat to low, and let simmer for at least 20 minutes. Stir every 5 minutes to ensure that the bottom isn't getting burned. This sauce can be ready after 20 minutes of simmering, but it will taste even better if you let it simmer longer, and then let it sit at room temperature for an hour. It can be frozen very well, and tastes great on pizza or pasta. But I digress. Now you have sauce. Next step.
1 15 oz container ricotta
1 egg
1/4 cup grated parmesean/romano/whatever pungent hard cheese you like (asiago is good here too, mizithra may be too mild)
1/2 cup grated mozzarella (mozzarella fresca brand is very tasty, imo)
1/2 lb washed and shredded spinach (you can use frozen, defrosted spinach here)
2 (uncooked) italian sausages
1/4 lb ground beef
(these steps can be done whilst the sauce is simmering/cooling) In a large mixing bowl, mix ricotta, egg, and cheeses together, set aside. I don't care for the extremely ricotta heavy lasagna, so this recipe reflects my own preference.
Heat a pan and fry italian sausage, without the skin, breaking it up as you did when you were making the sauce. Fry ground beef with the sausage, drain off most of the grease, and toss in the spinach. Cook until the spinach starts to lose its moisture, about 5 minutes. Set Aside. You are nearing the finish line.
Ok. Take your pasta dough and divide it in half. Keep one half tightly covered while you are working with the rest. On a clean, well floured surface, roll out your pasta, flouring it lightly so that it will not stick to your rolling pin or work surface. If you do not have a rolling pin, you can use: wine bottle, empty or full as long as the cork is secure, straight sturdy drinking glass (like the kind Pom tea comes in) or a straight sided jar. You will need to roll out your dough as thin as you can, 1/16th inch will be ok, just get it as thin and even as you can. (I have a pasta roller hand crank thing, and i get it to "3" setting.) The advantages of making your own pasta fresh for lasagna are that you can cut each sheet to fit the pan you are going to use, and also you do not have to boil it before you assemble the lasagna. Which is pretty neat in my opinion. Once you have rolled out your pasta into sheets, let it sit for about 2 minutes before you cut it. Now it is assembly time.
Preheat your oven to 375*F, and place one of the racks in the middle. Get the baking pan you are using, I like oval pans that are at least 3 inches deep. Spoon a few tablespoons of sauce into the pan to cover the bottom, and place your first layer of pasta on top. Spread a 1/2 inch layer of the ricotta mixture over the pasta, and over that a layer of the meat mixture. Spoon sauce over the meat layer (not too much, enough to cover it) and layer on another pasta sheet. Repeat this order until you get close to the top of the pan. The last layer should be a sheet of pasta, then just a small amount of sauce. Cover the top with fresh mozzarella slices, and then cover the whole top of the pan with aluminum foil. You may want to put another sheet of foil in your oven, on the rack below or the bottom of the oven, to catch any sauce that bubbles over. Bake in the centre of the oven for one hour, uncover the last 5 minutes of baking so the top gets a tiny bit crisp. Let this cool for at least ten minutes before cutting. Serve with a salad, and some crusty bread.
I have included a number of canned ingredients in this dish because I like to make it regardless of season, and buying fresh tomatoes enough for sauce in the middle of winter isn't economical, reasonable, or something I want to do.

Strange Grounds Coffee
1417 South Broadway
Denver, CO 80210
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2008 11:24:29 AM »

I am so hungry now!!! Thank you for this recipe! I've always wanted to make my own pasta but haven't tried it yet...it sounds easier than I thought. Thank you thank you! Cheesy

So you, could spend the morning walkin with me, quite amazed. As I am unwashed and somewhat slightly dazed.
the chimenator
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« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2008 11:25:36 AM »

Sounds delicious!  Bookmarkin' this.

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« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2008 12:36:13 PM »

Thank you so much for taking the time totype up such detailed instructions.  This sent me into daydreams of all the yummy things I could make with the sauce.  And I too have always wanted to make pasta but worried that it was too hard.  Now I think I have the confidence to try it!
« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2008 01:23:35 PM »

I bookmarked this.  When I get really ambitious, I'll try to make it.  Thanks so much!!!

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Strange Grounds
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Strange Grounds Coffee, 1417 S Broadway, Denver CO

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« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2008 01:50:42 PM »

no problem, guys.  that pasta recipe can be doubled or even tripled and makes AWESOME fettuccine.

Strange Grounds Coffee
1417 South Broadway
Denver, CO 80210
« Reply #6 on: April 10, 2008 10:48:22 AM »

Looks amazing!  Like some of the other responders, I haven't taken the plunge into making my own pasta yet . . . but I know that it tastes MUCH better than the stuff out of a box. 

Lasagna in general is just so great.  I love the way that you can put so many different things into the lasagna and it always comes out good.  One of my fave combos is mushrooms, spinach and italian sausage (along with the sauce and cheeses, naturally). 


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« Reply #7 on: April 10, 2008 03:53:38 PM »

wow looks soooooo yummy.  i love the fact you make your own noodles... i dont do that enough anymore.  thanks for sharing your recipe.
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