Saturday, January 9, 2010

Last Night's Request #2 Lasagna (Hospitality EVENTuality)

When the next Christmas guests were spending their last night, they requested lasagna.  This is tricky because my husband, who is my #1 favorite and most appreciative person to cook for, does not like Italian food--even my kickass lasagna.  Well, hospitality dictates a bow to the guests....

I found a bargain of a gigantic lasagna pan at TJ Maxx and doubled my recipe.  Below, you'll find the original directions and quantities.  All I can say is, definitely, buy the oven-ready lasagna noodles.  Separating steaming hot noodles has always been the part I hated, so that's now a thing of the past.  With the noodle task eliminated, you should think of the recipe in just 2 components: the sauce and the cheese mix.  Think of the sauce as browning whatever meat (or veggies) you use and building in the tomatoes and herbs.  Think of the cheese mix as a big-bowled compilation. 

With an amazing, layered stratification of noodles, sauce, and cheese goop, I proudly surveyed my lasagna before oven entry.  Then, I remembered that one of the departing
guests wanted spinach added.  Again, bowing to hospitality, I cooked spinach and packed it into the layers around the edges.  At the table, I announced that if you wanted spinach, you should stick to the 4 sides. 

This huge pan, although well-appreciated--produced a serious quantity of leftovers.  Remember, my husband ain't no lasagna fan, so I was a bit freaked.  But my departing and staying guests helped me out, graciously gobbling one and two helpings at breakfast before they departed.  I can't imagine their bellies on that plan trip home.  Nonetheless, they provided a typical lesson in guest-host reciprocity just like the xenios relationships among the ancient Greeks!

Here's the lasagna recipe...

oven-ready (no-bake) lasagna noodles

For the sauce
1) cook...
1# ground beef (baked & dice slices of eggplant
6 ounces ground lean pork or Italian sausage
1 cup diced mushrooms (optional)
¾ cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
2) add...
1 can (1#) tomatoes
1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
2 TBL parsley flakes or Provence spices
2 TBL sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp basil leaves

For the cheese mixture, combine...
3 cups (2 12-ounce cartons) creamed cottage cheese or ricotta
1 TBL parsley flakes
1 ½ tsp salt
½ cup Parmesan cheese
1 Tsp dried oregano
1 cup cooked and drained spinach (optional)
¾ # mozzarella cheese, shredded

Put a bit of sauce on the bottom of the pan to prevent sticking.  Add a layer of noodles; next, some sauce;, and then, some cheese mix.  Back to noodles, sauce, and cheese mix. Noodles, sauce, and cheese mix.  Top with Parmesan cheese. Heat oven to 350 degrees.  
Bake uncovered 45 minutes. Allow an additional 10-15 minutes if lasagna has been refrigerated. For easier cutting, let stand 15 minutes after removing from the oven.  If desired, lasagna can be covered and refrigerated or frozen.

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