Friday, February 4, 2011

Three Cheese Lasagna

It takes a while to prepare and requires many ingredients but its worth the effort. A one dish meal with every food group. Lasagna is a classic pasta casserole dish with layers of pasta, cheese and sauce. Many variations exist depending on the type of sauce and cheese being used and if it contains meat and or vegetables.
I am posting this recipe for a friend of mine. I haven't seen her in over 14 years, yet she still remembers the lasagna I made once as I do her biryani. Since then my version for this recipe has changed hopefully for the better.

1 Package Oven ready lasagna noodles
3/4 cup each shredded mozzerella and monterey jack(or your fav blend)
For the cheese sauce
400gms ricotta cheese
2 eggs
1lbs fresh spinach washed and finely chopped
For the tomato sauce (makes 9 cups with meat and 12 without )
2 tbsp olive oil
4 large red onions chopped
4-5 cloves of garlic
2 lbs ground chicken or lamb
12 large tomatoes chopped
1 can tomato puree
1 can tomato paste
2 tsp sugar
salt to taste
3-4 bay leaves
2 tsp each basil and oregano
hot pepper sauce (optional)
5-6 cups chopped vegetables(carrots, green peppers, celery, zucchini, mushrooms)
  1. To make cheese sauce mix all the ingredients together. Keep aside. 
  2. To make tomato sauce/meat sauce heat olive oil in a large stock pot and add onion and garlic. Saute for 2 minutes till onions soften a bit. 
  3. Add ground chicken/lamb and vegetables(for meat sauce) or only the vegetables(for vegetarian version). Cook on high stirring often for about 2-4 minutes till chicken cooks a bit. 
  4. Add all other ingredients and bring to a rolling boil for about 3-5 minutes. 
  5. Simmer covered for about 30 minutes stirring every so often. 
  6. To assemble the casserole take a deep rectangular baking dish and grease it. Spread 2 cups of tomato sauce at the base evenly. Layer lasagna noodles on top without overlapping since they will expand on cooking. Spread half the cheese sauce evenly over the noodles. Top with another layer of lasagna noodles. Now spread 2 cups of tomato sauce evenly covering all the noodles. The moisture from the tomato sauce will cook the noodles. Sprinkle with half the shredded cheese evenly. Arrange another layer of lasagna noodles, followed by cheese sauce, followed by lasagna noodles , followed by tomato sauce, followed by the final layer of shredded cheese. 
  7. Cover with foil and bake at 350F for 35-40 min till everything is bubbling in there and noodles are cooked. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes to brown the cheese. 
  8. Take out of the oven and cover with foil again. Let rest for about 15 minutes before serving. 
  9. I usually serve this with a salad. 

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