(Courtesy of kerryj at flickr.com.)
Hopefully, just the word ‘lasagne’ brings up memories of wonderful tastes. Hopefully you learned this from another long term Italian genre cook, as I did, from Sicilians.
As we discussed last week, tomatoes are not a native Italian veggie, but when they arrived from Mexican origins, they were very welcome. Pasta and tomatoes were nearly meant for each other.
My sauce is on, tomatoes and red pepper fresh picked this morning, fresh oregano and garlic, and many other flavors in the mix. I’ll give you a recipe, but this one is going by taste.
½ cup plus 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ lb. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
2 ribs celery, minced
1 large yellow onion, minced
1 medium carrot, minced
1 cup red wine
2 28-oz. cans whole peeled tomatoes in juice, crushed
2 bay leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
5 oz. each ground beef, veal, and pork
⅓ cup seasoned Italian bread crumbs
5 tbsp. finely chopped parsley
3 tbsp. finely grated pecorino,
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 slices country white bread, soaked in ½ cup water, drained, squeezed dry
2 eggs, lightly beaten
½ small yellow onion, minced
2 cups whole-milk ricotta
2 cups shredded mozzarella
1 ½ cups finely grated parmesan
8 oz. lasagna noodles, cooked
1. To make the sauce: heat 2 tbsp. oil in a 6-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Add sausage; cook, stirring to break up large pieces, until browned, about 6 minutes; drain off fat. Add celery, large onion, and carrot; cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add wine; cook until reduced by half, about 7 minutes. Add tomatoes and bay leaves, reduce heat to medium; cook until reduced and thick, about 1 hour. Season with salt and pepper; set aside.
2. To make the meatballs: mix beef, veal, pork, breadcrumbs, 2 tbsp. parsley, pecorino, garlic, white bread, eggs, onion, and salt and pepper in a bowl; form into about 60, ½″ meatballs. Heat remaining oil in a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat; working in batches, add meatballs, and cook until browned all over, about 8 minutes. Set aside.
3. To make the lasagne: Heat oven to 350°. Mix ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan in a bowl; set aside. Spread ¼ of the sauce in bottom of a 9″ × 13″ baking dish; top with ⅓ of the noodles. Top with ⅓ remaining sauce, followed by ⅓ of the cheeses; spread meatballs evenly over cheeses. Top with half remaining noodles; add half remaining sauce and half remaining cheese. Add remaining noodles, sauce, and then cheeses; bake until bubbly and browned on top, about 50 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining parsley.
We’ll have fresh parsley from the garden on top, and there will be ground sirloin rather than sausage because of house tastes. My own necessities, fresh grated parmesan, fresh slices of mozarella, ricotta with a touch of peppers from the garden, were a matter of long tasting and advice.
Getting the new plants in spring, planting and tending them, watching over them and seeing them ripen, taking out the best for the sauce, that’s a big part of the final product too.