Monday, February 15, 2010

No Boil Lasagna *heather

Lasagna is great for so many reasons, not the least of which is its ranking on the Comfort Food Ladder: Stacks of tomato sauce, cheese and pasta. Need I say more? In addition, it freezes well and leftovers always taste better as it firms up in the fridge and the herbs and spices in the sauce really sink into the pasta. There are so many ways to make Lasagna seem unique. You can make it with red sauce and spinach, sausage, veal, hamburger, chicken... the possibilities are endless. Years ago when I embarked on the quest to master the Italian stacked wonder I started in a logical place: the Safeway No Bake Lasagna Noodle Box. No, really. Those recipes on the store brand boxes are really good. Sometimes. I've tweaked the recipe and made some additions to makes my pasta stack seem a little healthier. I usually try to find a whole wheat noodle. But, shooting for ease and simplicity, I have to admit that I will go for a white, empty carb noodle if no "no-bake, whole wheat" variety can be found.

1 lb ground beef or diced italian sausage (I really like the Trader Joes smoked Chicken and Turkey Basil Pesto Sausage here)
1 26 ounce jar pasta sauce
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
2 eggs
1 15 oz container ricotta
1 lb frozen chopped spinach
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 tsp each: oregano, basil, parsley, onion powder and minced garlic
1 box Lasagna noodles (There is a brand called Healthy Harvest that makes a great no-bake wheat variety.)

In a large skillet, cook sausage or ground been over medium heat. Pour off excess fat. Stir in pasta sauce and canned tomatoes.

In a medium bowl whisk eggs. Stir in oregano, basil, parsley, onion powder and minced garlic, ricotta, Parmesan and 2 cups mozarella, .

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Grease a 13X9-inch casserole. Pour 1-1/2 cup sauce in the bottom of the casserole dish; arrange 5 lasagna noodles in sauce, overlapping and breaking to fit; Spread half the ricotta mixture over top, top with 1-1/2 cups sauce, 5 more noodles, remaining ricotta, 1-1/2 cups sauce, 5 more noodles, remaining sauce.

Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 2 cups mozarella cheese and bake uncovered for 10 more minuets, or until cheese melts. Let stand for 20 minutes before cutting.

Just a few notes:
If you have a little more time and patience and want to use a noodle you boil first, you'll want to drain the tomatoes. Also, take the spinach and,
once it has defrosted, press it in a colander to squeeze out the extra liquid. When using the no-bake variety that extra liquid helps soften the noodle.

Sorry for the lack of photos in this post, folks. The same factors limiting me to No-Bake have limited my ability to document this process. But I'm sure you'll do fine. None of this is really rocket science. Happy stacking!