Friday, 1 December 2017

Lasagna, Greedy Girl style...Jatalian?

"Christmas is coming"

The thing that makes Italian food so good is the fresh quality ingredients and time. Time for that ragu to develop flavors, time for the tomatoes to develop natural sweetness, all this time that most of us don’t have. So, when you want a nice lasagna and you don’t have 12 hours to simmer a scratch made ragu, what’s a girl to do? Follow this recipe.

I have made marinara sauces from scratch, and they are excellent. But in truth and in fact the tomato does take some finessing before she develops that sweetness. In a perfect world we would make large batches of marinara or ragu simmer them for 10 hours and freeze for future use, but a las, this world is far from perfect. There are a few tricks I implement to make sure my quick sauces taste incredibly rich. I overload the number of herbs and garlic I use, mix in some store bought marinara and I add sugar to mimic the natural sweetness the tomatoes would develop after a long simmer. I kid you not in 20 minutes the sauce tastes like gold. You see for me, there is no point in making a lasagna if the meat sauce is not incredibly flavorful on its own. The whole thing just ends up being bland. I also take it a step further and flavor the cheese mix with honey and garlic adding another layer of flavor.

So, between the ragu, the garlic ricotta mozzarella mix and the overload of garlic and herbs in this thing, there is no way for it not to be the most flavorful lasagna you will ever eat. Perfect balance of salty with a hint of sweet. This lasagna dish is about three weeks overdue. I was to make this for some family that came from Canada and New York, but the supermarket would not restock oregano for nothing! And I refuse to make lasagna without oregano, for me it’s the make or break herb, not parsley and not basil, but oregano. It goes so well with tomato and garlic. Most recipes call for small amount of Italian dried seasonings. But to get the rich burst of flavor this specific recipe requires fresh herbs. So, if you don’t have fresh herbs, just wait until you can get some, or go make one of the other lasagnas I have on the blog. Feel free to substitute the sugar for agave or honey, its just a hint of sweetness we are after and the taste of the tomatoes, herbs and garlic is so strong it won’t be affected by the flavor or the agave or honey. 

This recipe is one of my family’s favorite, everybody adores it when I make it. I had second thoughts about posting it…especially since I gave away the secret to how I get the perfect lasagna cheese, but its all good, my blog is about sharing the wealth of knowledge I’ve been blessed with. Enjoy!

Ingredients (printable recipe)

1 box lasagna cooked in salted water
2 Tablespoon oil
2 cups finely chopped onions
2 lb ground beef
3 cups marinara sauce
1 ½ cup water or red wine (see tips)
½ cup tomato paste
2 large tomatoes chopped
½ cup fresh oregano chopped
6 basil leaves chopped
½ cup fresh parsley chopped
6 garlic cloves shredded
3 bay leaves or dried pimento leaves
2 ½ teaspoon salt (or to taste this is added in stages a few pinches at a time)
1 tablespoon sugar
For the cheese
2 cups ricotta
1 tablespoon honey
4 garlic cloves shredded
2 ½ cups mozzarella

Greedy tips:
  • I don’t usually have red wine on hand, but I always have white rum. If you don’t have wine and you use water to make the sauce add a cap full of white rum to the mix
  • My favorite brand of store bought marinara sauce, which is basically the foundation of this sauce is the Prego Merlot Marinara, I find it to be the perfect addition for a quick and easy ragu that has homemade flavors with sore bought ease.
  • For the meat, use ground beef, it has the best flavor, sure you could use ground pork or ground chicken but the beef flavor and the tomato sauce work well together. If I didn’t have ground beef I would just make it meatless.

  • Chop the parsley, basil and oregano into fine bits and mix together, set aside
  • In a bowl combine the ricotta, shredded mozzarella, honey and garlic,
  • Stir until the cheese mixture is completely incorporated, set aside in the refrigerator
  • In a deep pot heat the oil and sweat the onions on low heat until fragrant and translucent sprinkle with a few pinches of salt
  • Turn the heat to medium and add the ground beef, season with a few more pinches of salt
  • Cook until the meat is cooked and gray, try to remove all the clumps, get pieces of meat as small as possible
  • Add the marinara sauce, fill the marinara sauce bottle with red wine or water shake it up to get all the extra sauce residue from the bottle and add it to the pot
  • Add tomato paste, fresh tomatoes, half the fresh herbs and bay leaves and bring to a boil
  • Once boiling reduce to a low simmer add sugar and remaining salt to taste and cook for 15 minutes
  • While the sauce is simmering cook the lasagna pasta to al dente
  • Lastly add the shredded garlic to the sauce and simmer for another 5 minutes
  • Remove from the heat and allow it to sit for 10 minutes. You could even let this sit overnight in the refrigerator once it cools, flavors will develop even more.
  • To assemble to lasagna start with sauce on the bottom of the pan followed by pasta and the cheese mixture and a sprinkling of herbs,
  • Next layer is pasta and meat sauce, cover with more pasta then add more cheese and herbs, repeat the process layering meat pasta cheese herbs and pasta. The last layer of pasta should be completely covered in sauce and then cheese and herbs (I hope that made sense)
  • You can either place the red sauce and the cheese mixture in the same layer between the pasta sheets or separate them. I like them better separated, either way works fine.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, cover the lasagna with foil making sure not to let the foil touch the top and bake for 30 minutes, after 30 minutes remove the foil and let it cook for another 10 minutes
  • Remove from the oven and allow it to rest for at least 10 minutes, 20 minutes is ideal
  • Slice and serve

Xoxo Greedygirl

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