observations, ideas and inspiration... from my pennsylvania home, garden, kitchen, and studio

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Lydia's Favorite Dish....Italian Lasagne

Is any food as heartwarming as Italian food? I went to Italy once with my husband shortly after we were married. The one thing that clearly stays in my mind was the food. While visiting Dino's second cousin twice removed (Italians really keep in touch with there roots) we had dinner with them. As we were talking, his cousin's daughters Tatiana and Vivianna (aren't they the prettiest names?) served us our meal. As they put this lovely slice of lasagna in front of me I thought "How on earth am I going to finish this?" One slice just fit on my plate....I think it was at least 7" by 7". It was heaven on earth and I did finish it. I was so proud and stuffed I couldn't move. I soon found out that this was just the FIRST course! I learned that a true Italian meal is very different from the single large plate of pasta most of us think of when we think "Italian". An authentic Italian meal usually goes like this: "Primi" a pasta, risotto or soup; "Secondi" meat, fish or chicken; "Insalata" a salad or vegetable; and "Dolci" a dessert with coffee..........After that meal I also learned "piccolo per favore" which means "small please".

I know we all have our own lasagna recipes. This one I made up to resemble the taste of that piece I had in Italy. I did change it a bit for Dino, who likes meat in his lasagna. Also I don't make my own lasagna noodles....someday....no who am I kidding! If I can prepare and assemble it in 30 minutes I'm happy. Buon Appetito!

Italian Lasagne

Tomato Meat Sauce:
1 1/2 pounds Ground Turkey (or Ground Chuck if you prefer)
2 ~ 28 oz cans of your favorite Tomato Sauce....I love Dei Fratelli Tomato Sauce
~ not the Italian Tomato Sauce, just their regular Tomato Sauce
2 Cloves Garlic chopped
Splash of favorite Red Wine if you like....I like to add a splash and have a glass!
Salt& Pepper
Handful of Fresh Basil, torn

Add about 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil to pan and start browning turkey. Halfway through add garlic and a little salt and pepper. Cook until brown…about 2 more minutes then add sauce and wine. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and simmer about ½ hour. While this is simmering I make the Bechamel sauce. I add the basil to tomato sauce right before assembling.

Bechamel Sauce:
¼ Cup Butter
¼ Cup Flour
½ tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
Fresh ground nutmeg (about 1/8 tsp)
2 Cups Milk
1 Cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
¼ Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour, salt, pepper and nutmeg; cook and stir until bubbly. Whisk in the milk stirring constantly until the sauce thickens and bubbles for about 1 minute. Remove from heat. Stir in the mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese until smooth. Set aside.

Remaining Ingredients:
1 16 oz package regular or no-bake lasagna noodles....whichever you prefer they both work without boiling, I prefer the regular because they are thicker.
½ Cup additional Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
¼ Cup additional Grated Parmesan Cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Add fresh basil to tomato sauce now. I use a big handful but use to your family's taste.

To assemble: Pour 1 ½ - 2 cups tomato sauce on bottom of 13 x 9 baking dish. Add a layer of noodles...make sure there is some space between noodles since they will expand while baking. Spread 1 cup of bechamel sauce. Repeat the layers…tomato sauce, noodles, bechamel sauce ending the final layer with tomato sauce on top of noodles. Sprinkle top with mozzarella cheese & parmesan cheese.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove foil and bake 15 more minutes. Let rest for about 10 minutes before cutting if your family will let you.

This can also be assembled up to 1 day ahead. Cover with foil and refrigerate. Bake the lasagna the same adding 15 minutes to the covered baking time.


angie said...

omgosh~it looks delicious!!! thanks for posting the recipe!

ctlogcabin said...

Hi Jenn ~ Glad Lydia got her favorite meal. Yummmm love the picture...mouth watering !!!
That's what all my guys ask for on their birthday. Did I read wrong I don't see any Ricotta cheese in your recipe ?? My grandfather Rosario from Sicily also added chopped hard boiled eggs. Paul and the boys don't care for it that way so I have eliminated it, but we all love it with lots of cheese, Mozzarella, Parmesan,and Ricotta. Made me laugh about the relatives...first, second and third cousins, its so ture. lol
Sending Warm Hugs ~~ Concetta xox : -)
PS ~~ Just saw your new friend in your last post...how cute.

ctlogcabin said...

Evening Jenn ~ I'm so sorry to hear Lydia is sick,there is so much going around at this time of year. Hope she feels better tomorrow. And sorry to hear you were in an accident, boy bad day all around,thank goodness no one was hurt. We do have frigid cold here, Paul even broke down and put the heat on in the house yesterday, so we don't wind up with any frozen pipes...or frozen people. lol The wood stove and the fireplace just wasn't doing it. Brrrrr
I will have to look up where Dino's family is from, and yes my family calls me Concetta some times. My Dad did a lot of the time it was his Mothers name.
Well I hope tomorrow is a better day for all of you. Keep Warm ~~
Sending Big Hugs & Love ~ me xox

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