Do I dare to say that we all love lasagna? I’m going to say yes. My recipe utilizes using leftover tomato sauce. I don’t know about you, but whenever I make a pot of tomato sauce I always make too much. I’ve either put it in the frig, saying to myself, I’m going to make something with this sauce tomorrow. Then there are those times where I freeze the sauce and forget it’s in there because life gets busy. Not anymore. Yes, it does take some planning but, I don’t ever have to think about what I’m going to use the leftover tomato sauce for. Once I make the lasagna, I can potion it out or freeze the entire dish for when I’m ready for this decadent dish. If you decide to freeze your lasagna, let it cool completely then what I do is to wrap the lasagna tightly with plastic wrap and then with heavy duty foil and it will keep until your ready. I let the lasagna defrost overnight in the refrigerator. If it is not completely defrosted, take it out of the frig, unwrap the entire lasagna, and let it sit out for 1/2 an hour or so before putting into a 375 degree oven. I will show you my trick to stop the cheese from sticking to the foil when baking. When making lasagna, because there are so many components to the dish it can seem daunting. Just by eliminating on of these parts makes making this dish so much easier. In one of my earlier blogs, I’ve talked about different types of tomato based sauce that I’ve made. I happen to have a hearty meat filled tomato sauce, that has sweet Italian sausage and ground beef in it so that’s what I’m using here.
I’m slowly bringing the sauce back up to temperature, and once that happens I will turn the heat off and put a lid on it and set it aside. One step done. For my nest ingredient for this lasagna I’m using Portobello mushrooms.
In a large pan on med high heat with 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter I sauteed 3 large Portobello mushroom caps that I sliced. I added 1 tablespoon of dried thyme. I don’t salt them until they have turned a nice brown color and released their liquid. Then 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt and 1/2 a teaspoon of black pepper. This whole process happens pretty quickly As you can see they get that nice caramelized color to them. I place the cooked mushrooms in a bowl and set them aside for a minute. It’s time to move on to the next step.
Moving forward in the first picture you’ll see that I have 1/4 cup of AP flour some fresh nutmeg and 1/2 a gallon of milk. In a large heavy bottom pot I start to melt 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter. On med heat to the melted butter I add the flour and whisk constantly, until all the flour has cooked out. It becomes a light tan in color. I then slowly, still whisking add in 1 quart of whole milk, I just judged 1/2 of the 1/2 gallon container of the milk. I then grated in 1 teaspoon of fresh nutmeg, 1 tablespoon of Kosher, salt and 1 teaspoon of black pepper. Still whisking the mixture until the mixture thicken and coated the back of a spoon, with a line holding in place from my finger, like you see in the picture above. This sauce is known as a Bechamel sauce. I immediately removed the pot from the heat and added in some cheese and some fresh chopped Italian parsley, dried it fine too. The cheeses I used for this are shredded mozzarella and Grana Padano, and I added a 1/4 cup each of those to the Bechamel sauce and stirred that through with a wooden spoon. Now this part of the lasagna is done. Next for the ricotta cheese component to my dish.
In a large bowl I added one 15 ounce container of whole milk ricotta cheese, 1 tablespoon of fresh chopped Italian parsley, 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt, and 1/2 a teaspoon of black pepper. I mixed that all together and now this part is finished. Next onto the lasagna noodles.
These are my favorite type of pasta for this dish. I like the flat thin pasta style for my lasagna. They are much lighter in texture then the traditional shaped ones and there is no pre-cooking needed. So you see I’ve eliminated two steps in making this dish.
Now it’s time to assemble this beautiful dish. I want to let you know in the pictures above I’m using the same pasta picture just to give you an idea of where and when I placing the pasta layers into the dish. First a ladle of the delicious meat sauce to the bottom, to keep the pasta from sticking at the bottom. Then a layer of the pasta sheets and these sheets fit perfectly in the dish as you can see. Next a layer of that cheesy Bechamel sauce. On top of that I arrange the Portobello mushrooms so that there will be some in every bite. Another layer of pasta sheets, then some of the meat sauce. More pasta sheets then the ricotta mixture. A heavy handful of the Mozzarella cheese and Grana Padano cheese spread all over the top of the ricotta, Next more pasta sheets. Then a final layer of the meat sauce. Here I use up the rest of the Mozzarella and grate another 1/4 cup of the Grana Padano cheese over that. I take 1/4 stick of unsalted butter that I’ve diced up really small and dot the top all over with butter. Now before I place this into a 375 degree oven, I need to cover it.
The trick I was telling you about earlier is this, spray the dull side of the foil with non-stick cooking spray before covering the lasagna and the cheese won’t stick and come off when you remove the foil, cool right? I cook the lasagna for 45 minutes with the foil on then I remove the foil and bake until the top is golden brown, I’d say another 15 minutes or so. Just keep your eye on it you’ll know when it’s ready to come out. Be sure to let the lasagna rest for at least 20 minutes before slicing into it. This way it will hold its shape.