crazy mom loves to cook

Lasagna alla Marinara

Traditional lasagna, but without the traditional meat sauce.  Light and delicious.  Adapted from recipes by co-owner of Eataly Market in NYC, Lydia Bastianich.

Lasagna alla marinaraFirst you start with excellent sauce.  I like to make mine from scratch. You can opt to use good quality bottled marinara sauce. But listen to Mamakooks and “MAKE THE SAUCE!”

Marinara Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3  finely chopped carrots
  • 3 finely chopped celery stalks
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • Salt to taste
  • Peperoncino (crushed red pepper)
  • 1 28-oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 28-oz can of whole tomatoes

In a saucepan on medium heat, add the olive oil.  Add the onion and simmer until transparent. Add the carrots and celery and cook, stirring occasionally for approximately 10 minutes. This part is important. You don’t want to brown them, but really develop a depth of flavor. Add the tomatoes from both cans, crushing the whole tomatoes with the spoon.  Add the bay leaves, season lightly with salt and peperoncino, and heat to a simmer. Simmer the sauce over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until thickened, about 45 mintues. Remove the bay leaves. Check the seasoning and add more salt and peperoncino if necessary.

Adapted from Lidia’s Italian Table by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich.

Now on to the Lasagna…

Lasagna

Adapted from recipe by Lidia Bastianich, Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen Cookbook at Cookstr.com:

This part of the instruction from Lidia, is crucial to the success of the lasagna, so read it carefully:

“I am always telling you not to add oil to the water when you cook pasta, because it will reduce the adherence of sauce to the pasta. Cooking long, flat pasta–like these lasagna noodles–is the exception. They have a tendency to stick together when they cook; the oil will help prevent that. Inevitably, some noodles will break. Save the pieces; they will come in handy to patch the layers of lasagna.

You’ll notice in the meat-sauce recipe that the final consistency of the sauce should be fairly dense. Following that pattern, I suggest you drain the ricotta first, to remove a lot of the moisture. Removing excess moisture from the ingredients will result in a finished lasagna that is more compact and intense in flavor.

You may assemble the lasagna completely up to a day before you serve it, but don’t cook it until the day you plan to serve it. Lasagna tastes better and is easier to cut if it is allowed to stand about an hour after it is removed from the oven. It will retain enough heat to serve as is, or, if you prefer, pop it back in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes. My favorite way to serve lasagna is to bake it and let it stand 3 to 4 hours. Cut the lasagna into portions, then rewarm it in the oven.”

Ingredients

  • 15 oz of whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • Marinara Sauce, homemade preferred
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lb lasagna noodles
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large package of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • shredded parmesan cheese

Directions

Line a sieve with a double thickness of cheesecloth or a basket-type coffee filter. Place the ricotta over the cheesecloth and set the sieve over a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or up to 1 day. Discard the liquid that drains into the bowl. Make the sauce.

Bring 6 quarts of salted water and the olive oil to a boil in an large pot over high heat.  Cook the pasta, semi-covered, stirring occasionally, until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes. You do not want to overcook them.

While the pasta is cooking, set a large bowl of ice water next to the stove. When the lasagna noodles are al dente, transfer them to the ice water. Set aside.

While the noodles are cooking, beat the eggs with a pinch of salt in a mixing bowl until foamy ( I used a hand mixer). Add the ricotta and stir until thoroughly blended. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

To assemble the lasagne, ladle about ¾ cup of the sauce over the bottom of a 16×9–inch baking dish (I recommend a deep baking dish as this recipe stacks up pretty quickly!). Arrange noodles lengthwise and side by side so as to cover the bottom of the baking dish. (A little “cut and paste” might be necessary. Also, the noodles will most likely overlap in the center of the dish. That is fine.) Spoon enough sauce to cover the noodles in an even layer. Sprinkle the sauce with ½ cup of the mozzarella cheese. Arrange a single layer of noodles crosswise over the cheese so they overhang the long sides of the baking dish, trimming the noodles and overlapping them as necessary. Spread all of the ricotta mixture evenly over the noodles. Arrange a single layer of noodles lengthwise over the ricotta, trimming the noodles as necessary. Spread 1 cup of the sauce over the cheese and sprinkle 1 cup of grated mozzarella cheese over the sauce. Cover with a layer of noodles, arranged lengthwise. Spread a thin layer of meat sauce over the top layer of noodles. Sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and bake 45 minutes.

Uncover the lasagna and continue baking until the top is crusty around the edges, about 20 minutes. Let rest at least 30 minutes before cutting and serving. To rewarm a lasagna that has been standing, cover it loosely with foil and place in a 325°F oven until heated through, 15 to 45 minutes, depending on how long it has been standing.

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