Friday, November 5, 2010

Lasagna is on Everyone's Mind

Lately, I keep hearing about lasagna.  It's kind of weird, because in everyday life, you might hear about a celebrity, politics, events, etc on a regular basis, but rarely various people you know bringing up lasagna.  Most notably, I keep  hearing about "Crockpot Lasagna."  What the hell is this stuff?  I can't even imagine how it looks, or how you serve it?  But, I'm always willing to learn new tricks...

The first time I heard about it was a month or so ago, some of us were volunteering to make a lunch for the Youth Group at church.  My friend Cindy stepped up with the Crockpot Lasagna.  I was curious, but got preoccupied and forgot to inquire.  Well, fast forward and I saw it come up on Facebook.  Then again.  Then, just the other day, my friend Kathryn posted that she was making it.  So, I had to ask.  Apparently, the recipe is right there on Oprah's website.  And, thankfully for me, a photo.  

All this brings me to my own latest lasagna experience.  I was looking around the kitchen for what I had on hand and what I could do with it.  I know the Vivver likes lasagna, so I decided to "guinea pig" her with a vegetable version.  I'm pleased to report that my sweet little veggie lovin' pumpkin pie loved it. She ate a good dinner and asked to take some the next day in her stylish Hello Kitty lunchbox.  This is why I cook!

Here's how I did it this time:
  • 9 lasagna noodles (cooked, rinsed & placed back in pot covered w/cold water)
  • 3 large carrots
  • 3 medium yellow squash
  • 1 10 oz. box frozen chopped spinach (thawed & squeezed dry)
  • 1 container ricotta
  • 1/4 cup parmesan
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 cup warmed milk
  • mozzarella
  • sauce
I'm not the most rigid measurer, so use your judgment!  Ok, so, I used my mandolin to slice the carrots & squash at 1/4".  I tossed the squash with salt, pepper & a little olive oil, spread on a cookie sheet and baked at 350 for about 10 minutes just to pre-cook them.  Similarly, I steamed the carrots for about 5 minutes to soften a bit.

Sauteed the garlic in 1 Tbsp olive oil with the crushed red pepper.  Then, slowly mixed in the flour (basically  making a roux). Gradually whisk in the warm milk.  Remove from heat and add in the ricotta, 1/4 cup parmesan & spinach; mix well.  Set aside.

For convenience's sake, I used a jarred sauce that I had in the pantry.  Spread a little on the bottom of your lasagna pan. Place 3 noodles on top.  Spread with about 1/2 of the spinach mixture, layer of squash, some mozzarella, layer of sauce.  Then, 3 more noodles, the rest of the spinach mixture, carrots, mozzarella, layer of sauce.  Finally, 3 more noodles, layer of sauce, mozzarella and parmesan on top.  

Cover tightly with foil, and bake at 350 or 375 for about 30 minutes.  Uncover & bake about 10 minutes or so until cheese is bubbly & just starting to get golden.  Basically, until it looks good to you!  I always let mine sit for about 15 minutes to "set up" before trying to cut into it.  You'll get better looking pieces that hold together better.

I have to admit, I'm curious now about this crockpot recipe.  The photo convinced me!  So, until next time,  Mangiare, bere e divertirsi!  (If you want to know what this says, go here)

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