Friday, April 14, 2006

Lasagna

FESTIVE, SPRINGY... and a real hassle if you have to boil the noodles!
My husband used to work at a pizzeria many moons ago and always cooked cheesy/ meay lasagna early in our marriage. . . back in our SAD (standard american diet) days. A time before I realized how allergic to dairy products my son and I are (and how violently our bodies react against beef and pork... all common pizzeria ingredients). Anyway, I have never made a lasagna before and never desired to until I found a couple of pounds of organic whole wheat lasagna noodles. My first thought was the pretty filling infused pasta rolls, but after cooking the noodles and trying to keep them from breaking while I tried to boil them in a pan that was not wide enough . . . I wasn't impressed with these noodles! After having enough to make this pan of lasagna I ended up mashing the rest of the cooked noodles in a bowl and adding some dry cat food to it. I set the bowl into our back alley so that the stray cats in our neighborhood could enjoy it (they did). Not all fiddley meals can be favorites, fortunately cooking the noodles was the only thing I really didn't like.

I improvised this dish using whatever I had on hand just to get the noodles off my shelf. I started off with six cups of a good flavored Italian tomato sauce that we all like ... if you don't like the sauce to begin with you won't like the end product. I had enough cooked noodles to cover a 9x13 pan in three layers, hungry stray cats for the noodle scraps, 2 lb's chopped broccoli (frozen/ thawed), 1 lb tofu seasoned with 1/2 C veg mayo/1 tsp each onion powder/garlic/basil/1/4 tsp salt, 2 cups sliced mushrooms, black beans (okay if you read my last week plans you know why these were thrown in), and your favorite parmesan style sprinkles. I topped this with the parm-style sprinkles combined with bread crumbs for a pretty browned bake look on top. After preparing this dish in the evening, it was covered/ refrigerated overnight until I took it out to bake at 350 degrees F for two hours.

Notice in the pictures that after removal from the oven, the casserole sat for about 15-20 minutes at which time the excess sauce was soaked up, this made serving it easier. DH said that a quality lasagna holds together (thus the need for eggs and cottage cheese he said... BAH! I said back!!). This ones maintains it square peice integrity going from the baking dish to the plate for nice serving, but slides apart when you cut it with a fork. So I may not have a quality dish, but my pantry is now one item less!

After all my frustration trying to cook the noodles, we all liked this meal. Chances that I try to pre-cook dry lasagna noodles ever again are not good. I would love to see if there is a good way to skip pre-cooking the noodles and know that they will have a good quality at serving time. The thought of using freshly prepared noodles crossed my mind... I have a hand crank pasta maker (Atlas). I have made pasta before. I'll bet fresh noodles can be added straight to the baking pan and they will cook during the baking process. But then the fresh noodles might also dissolve or turn mushy during the baking process..... hmmm. I would like to know, but chances of trying this to find out anytime soon is also slim.

PREPARATION FOR TOMMORROW:
I micro cooked the cabbage, carrots, chik'n chunks, and seasings this evening so that I have the ingredients for the yaki soba ready, this was fast and easy! The noodles will take just a 2 minutes, so supper will be FAST FOOD! I am really looking forward to trying little stuffed wonton wraps. My family loves almost anything with a dip.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Here's a no-cook noodle idea for you: when we make lasagna, we assemble the whole thing ahead of time with dreid, uncooked noodles, let it sit in the fridge all day, and then bake. As the lasagna sits the noodles slowly soften from the tomato sauce and by the time it is done baking, they are soft to eat. Very easy!

SusanV said...

Dori, I never cook lasagna noodles (well, maybe twice back in the 70's!) Here's a link to my lasagna recipe, or one version of it: Easy Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna. (If you use enough sauce, you never need to cook lasagna noodles again!)

Dori said...

Thanks for the no cook ideas!

Bryanna Grogan said...

I'm afraid I'm the odd one out-- i don't like how the no-cook noodles turn out. I always cook them. You DO need a BIG pot, but it doesn't matter if some of gthem split. I just save some nice ones for the top! Here is a quote from my book "Nonna's italian Kitchen": "The best lasagne are made with homemade pasta. Although I know it won't always be possible to make your own pasta for lasagne, and I do enjoy lasagne made with commercial dry noodles, try making it with your homemade noodles-- I think you'll agree that it melts in your mouth! When you do use commercial dry noodles, I suggest that you cook them first. I have tried recipes using uncooked noodles, but I don't think the results are that good. Cooking the noodles does not take much effort, and it takes twice as long to bake the dish using raw noodles. (If you disagree with me and want to use uncooked noodles anyway, add 1 and 1/3 c. water to the sauce for each 1/2 lb. dried noodles used, cover the dish tightly, and bake twice as long as the recipe directs)." Of course, if you let the lasagne sit, as someone suggested, it might not have to bake as long. Anyway, I'm picky, and it didn't taste right to me!