Thursday, January 29, 2009

Lasagna Bolognese

Lasagna always seems like such a fuss, and I'll admit it, I usually just go for a frozen one. It always seems like too much work to make a real one, from scratch, and frozen ones aren't that bad (if you avoid the orange grease stain that is Stouffer's). So it's kind of ironic that I made this last night, because real work at my real job was eating my figurative baby and I needed to be able to put something in the oven for an hour and forget about it.

This is why I took the time to can my tomatoes last summer. It was precisely for this reason. I can totally shirk my duties without feeling like a lazy wife or a shitty blogger, because technically, this is homemade sauce. (Not that any of you should ever feel bad about using store-bought sauce. I'm just an over-achiever.)

This is why I grow and sauce my own tomatoes, grind my own beef and can my own Bolognese sauce. I'm banking my time and energy in canned food form, to withdraw at a future, overworked date. A good thing, too, is a box of no-cook lasagna noodles, already snuggling in my pasta drawer amongst my jars of summer sun. A bag of baby spinach and a cube of extra firm (silken) tofu got blitzed to stand in for ricotta (adding a spoonful of creme frâiche for dairy twang, and a little sea salt and fennel seed for flavor).

A nutmeggy bechamel layer, noodles, Bolognese (heated through with some leftover sausage and mushrooms), noodles, spinachy-tofu smoosh, noodles, then all remaining sauce, topped with shredded mozz and parm*. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Wait, it looks like I had to cook after all...

Serve with a juicy Spanish grenache and unmitigated languor.






*Note: this got a little on the extra-browned side of melty, but was still good. I just added extra cheese when it came out of the oven. Next time I'll cover to bake.

36 comments:

peter said...

FIRST.

I can't believe you've never made this before; and you had the nerve to give me shit about biscuits.

Heather said...

mmmm. looks delicious. i have to admit i'm a jar sauce kinda girl. i make my own, too, but classico 4 cheese makes me pretty happy, too. i do love the laziness of just popping lasagna in the oven!

Peter M said...

Nice, a free-form lasagna, Bechamel, homemade sauce, definite "happy ending" to the meal.

Any more wine?

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

Very nice! You are the queen of improvisation. I'd have never thought to sub tofu for ricotta. Shhh. Don't tell, but sometimes, when I'm in a lasagna mood, I'll just cook up the noodles, tear them up in a bowl and throw everything else right on top! :)

Emily said...

Mmm, this looks good. I made lasagna the other night and it was crap.

Stouffers is disgusting.

Chrystal said...

Yep. Looks super great!

Foodycat said...

I can never be bothered with lasagne either. When I do make it, it isn't as nice as a bought one. But yours looks tender and lovely!

Bellini Valli said...

It's often hard to capture lasagna in photographs but you accomplished this beautifully!!

maggie said...

I used to make a heavy-on-the-ricotta version from the Vegetarian Epicure, but I've converted to all bechamel. Wish I had canned my own tomatoes!

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

I'm still choking on the fact that you eat frozen lasagnes. And have the gall to admit it.

Still, your own home-cooked version goes some way to making up for your past aberrations... so, just this once, I'm prepared to let you off.

BUT DON'T DO IT AGAIN, OK?

Catherine Wilkinson said...

Now this is what I'm talkin' about. Endlessly. Like, Lasagna has been on my mind. And here you go and make some. Tonight, my Dad is coming to visit, and I'm making him a Bloody Mary with your awesome homemade mix you graciously sent!

Nina Timm said...

Ever thought of starting a ready meals factory....I'll be your most valued customer!!!

Syd said...

Bless you for admitting to the frozen lasagna. I feel much better about myself. I'll make the shit, but under much protest.

This is a beautiful dish.

Oh, and are watching Hell's Kitchen this go 'round?

Heather said...

Jube - You did it! You're first! You get the blue ribbon A+ super gold star.

Heather - Classico does some nice sauce, and is what the Hubz goes for when I'm out of town. :)

El Greco - Well to be fair, I didn't jerk it off.

Susan - I've used cottage cheese in lieu of ricotta before too. It all tastes good when there's sauce and pasta involved.

Em - What is it with Stouffer's? All of their products use the worst quality meats. It's like dog food. You hear that, Stouffer's marketing team? Dog food.

Chrystal - Thank you. :)

Alicia - I just can't figure out how they cram so much poundage of lasagna into such a small paper casserole. Boggles the mind.

Valli - Extra melty cheese would've helped, but I did my best. :)

Mags - I like the Béchamel addition. This was the first time I used it, but it's a keeper.

Sketti - Yes'm. (looks at feet remorsefully)

Queen of All Cosmos - I hope he likes it! You might need to cut it with some plain tomato juice (it's on the zesty and pulpy side).

Nina - That's a great idea! I could cook professionally without having to deal with people! Hmmm....

Syd - I'm not too good for frozen food. I still hit Taco Bell, too. (We tried to watch it last night, but it's just too terrible to watch. I mean, do they look for the stupidest, ugliest people they can find?)

Marc @ NoRecipes said...

AWESOME! I love how you snuck the the tofu in there at the very end of your description. I just posted a tofu dish that's masquerading as something else too.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Delicious. I have a ton of leftover bolognese sauce that I want to make into butt kicking lasange in the near future. I am very intrigued by the classic recipe with the rich sauce and the bechemel.

Manggy said...

You didn't make your own lasagna noodles?! For shame! Hee hee hee. Doesn't look browned in excess (I'm convinced there's no such thing :).

Captcha: lessfak

dp said...

I don't think you're an over-achiever because you grow and preserve your own food. I wish people would realize it's really not that hard. One or two days (albeit long days) at the end of the summer and you'll be rewarded all year.

BTW, I never boil my noodles in advance and I use the regular noodles.. Totally cuts down on cook time. You just have to have enough sauce for the noodles to absorb as they are baking.

Finspot said...

Man, you're on a serious down-home comfort roll here Heather. Love it! And think about Stinging Nettle Lasagna in a month--the argumentative little buggers are already rearing their prickly heads in our region.

Brittany said...

Lasagna, the food I always avoid making myself, but secretly want to becasue when I skimp and buy it frozen, I always regret it, so when I get the hankering, i always settle for a zitti, a type of lazyman's lasagna:)

glamah16 said...

You have hardly been a shitty blogger. I can barely keep up with your posts this past week. Like the addition of tofu.I love a good lasagna.

Ken Albala said...

Frozen, what the f?? I'm even surprised about boxed quickie noodles. Lasagne is so simple to make, a bag of flour, an egg, some cheeses, tomatoes. Not much else, the simpler the better. You come over some time and let me make it for you!

Zen Chef said...

I knew you were an over-achiever from the day you cooked a whole pig in your garden. :-)

Cats With Thumbs said...

i just found your site randomly via a local Columbus, OH food blog which in turn led me to TasteSpotting. I like what you're doing with food and how you write about it. nice site. i've made my own ricotta for lasagna before but have seen the bechamel versions...wanna try it! i also got a meat grinder for christmas, so...that's next i guess!

Elra said...

Oh.. so delicious. My son been asking me to make lasagna. Thanks for posting the recipe, it reminds me that I have to make it soon.
Cheers,
Elra

Brittany said...

You rocked my world a little with the tofu. I'm gonna need to give that a go. Yum.

Barefoot Britt's comment about ziti has me now craving both dishes. Whutta biotch.

we are never full said...

interesting use of the tofu. veerrrry interesting. i wonder if it made a good replacement, errr similar replacement? i love that you jar your own stuff. we'll actually be profiling your jarred heirloom BM mix soon... keep your eyes peeled.

Choosy Beggar Tina said...

I love lasagne, and I'm with you on the too much effort front. Doing it all in one day is time consuming, filthy, and thankless - particularly when your hard work gets gobbled up in less time than it takes to say, "okay guys, it's rea-" Sigh.

I killed all of my tomatoes by the middle of August last year....I wish they had stuck around just a bit longer so I could enjoy home made sauce in February as well!! Silly black thumb...

Lo said...

Totally on the side of the tofu in this dish. In fact, I got Peef to eat tofu for the first time by subbing it for riccotta cheese in a pasta dish. He seriously wasn't the wiser... maybe we can just chalk that up to "love"... but I choose to believe it's cuz tofu is just THAT GOOD.

matt wright said...

I could so eat a big helping of this right now, and I have just eaten breakfast.. that is bad. wait, no, it is good...

Lovely job - and you canned your own tomatoes! rock on.

The Spiteful Chef said...

I love that you canned your own tomatoes. I did the same, only mine taste too much like acid from me trying to avoid Botulism. Still, I'm all covered with drool and sweat from looking at that lasagna.

Tokyoastrogirl said...

It's so neat and purty!

kyouell said...

Really, lasagna is hard? I used to think it was just me being stubborn. I finally wrote out a recipe I liked the taste of *my* way (including which bowls I use and everything) and now it's a snap. For me the hard part was that the recipe writer wasn't a good writer even though the outcome was tasty. My problem is always at the end. Taking the foil off for the last 10 mins always pulls off the top cheese! I think I just need a taller pan.

J.Danger said...

I love lasagna! I always love making it too, and my own sauce, It's therapeutic.

~RED~ said...

This has got to be the best lasagna recipe i have ever seen.. THANK YOU!

Anonymous said...

Oh God I love lasagna, it's the best recipe ever. In fact pastas gives you energy, so my grandpa love it, when he ate pasta he didn't need to visit
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