Monday, December 28, 2009

Tasty Tuesday!

Every family has their traditions, and mine is no different. For Christmas Eve, I host dinner, and I always make the same thing: Caesar salad (for which my husband is primarily responsible), lasagne, and baguettes. It's always good and filling -- especially the lasagne.

The recipe I use is loosely based on what an ex-boyfriend made way back when. I think it's the first and only time I dated a guy who even came close to really cooking, and he taught me a few things. The fact that he was Italian didn't hurt! His lasagne is similar to many "normal" lasagnes except that it includes a bechamel sauce to make it extra yummy and rich, and he always used pepperoni in place of ground beef.

Since I love creamy, and I don't like meat, this recipe works out perfectly. It's hard to be exact about having a half meat and half non lasagne when using crumbly beef. Pepperoni, on the other hand, works quite nicely.

Bechamel Lasagne

Tomato Sauce
3 cloves garlic
1 T olive oil
3 14 oz cans diced tomatoes (look for a low sodium one)
1 T dried parsley
1/2 T dried basil
1 t dried oregano
1/2 t pepper

Heat saucepan on the stove until it's hot. Remove paper skins from garlic and chop. Add the olive oil to the pan and heat a minute or so until shimmery. Add the chopped garlic and cook until fragrant, about a minute. Add the tomatoes, dried herbs, and pepper. Simmer for 10-15 minutes while you make the bechamel. Use an immersion blender to puree to the thickness you prefer.

Bechamel Sauce
4 T butter
4 T flour
2 c milk
1 bay leaf
1/2 t nutmeg, freshly grated
1/2 t pepper

Turn the stove to medium and heat a heavy saucepan. Add the butter and flour and whisk to combine. Stir constantly until it just starts to get a hint of brown color. Add the milk all at once and whisk until thoroughly combined (this will help you avoid lumps). Grate the nutmeg into the milk mixture, and add the bay leaf and pepper. Simmer, stirring periodically, until it has thickened (usually about 10 minutes). While the bechamel is thickening, make the filling.

12 oz ricotto cheese, part skim
6 oz mozzarella, part skim - shredded
6 oz Parmesan, grated (NOT from the green can)
6 oz Koskisko or other solid cheese like Gruyere
2 eggs
1/2 t dried parsley
1/2 t dried oregano
1 t dried basil
13 lasagne noodles, uncooked

Mix the ricotta, 4 1/2 oz Parmesan, all the mozzarella, 4 1/2 oz of the other solid cheese, eggs, and herbs together in a bowl, and use a spatula to combine well.

Combine lasagne in a 13x9 pan. Use a ladle to spooon about 3/4 c sauce onto the bottom of the pan to cover (you may need a bit more or less, depending on your pan). Add a layer of lasagne noodles. Scoop out about 1/4 cup of the filling mixture at a time, and press into the noodles to cover, using a bout half the mixture in total. Add half the bechamel sauce (after removing the bay leaf!). Add more ladles of sauce to cover.

Repeat the layers, ending with the sauce. Atop the last layer, add the remaining shredded cheeses to form a crust.

Cover with tin foil and bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown and bubbly. Let it sit for about 20 minutes before serving or it will fall all over the place (not that I know from experience).

Enjoy this and more at Tempt My Tummy Tuesday with Blessed With Grace.


Lisa@BlessedwithGrace December 28, 2009 at 10:54 PM  

That looks and sounds wonderful. I am a BIG fan of a Bechamel sauce. I cooked a rigatoni dish, tonight, which uses a bechamel type sauce. It's a favorite. I will be posting it soon for TMTT.

Brenda December 28, 2009 at 10:59 PM  

I love pasta dishes like this, thanks for posting this recipe.

Sherry December 28, 2009 at 11:03 PM  

I am too a pasta lover! Sounds really good!

Alexis AKA MOM December 29, 2009 at 1:41 AM  

Oh wow that just sounds and looks amazing! Thanks so much for sharing ;).

Unknown December 29, 2009 at 2:31 AM  

Good lord that sounds so divine. I'll be stealing this and making it MINE!!! OK I'll give you credit for it :)

Hyacynth December 29, 2009 at 10:20 AM  

Mmm! Sounds delicious! I love lasgna. Thanks for sharing.

Connie December 29, 2009 at 11:43 AM  

Whenever I see a recipe that has a word that I don't know in the title, I tend to shy away from the recipe. But after reading this recipe I think I can do it! Bechamel isn't such a foreign word after all! Neither is lasagne! Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous December 29, 2009 at 4:54 PM  

I think some of your ex-boyfriends might be hurt by your comments about not being able to cook

Candi December 29, 2009 at 10:47 PM  

That looks really yummy! Did I read it correctly and there is no meat? I love this! We eat Breakfast for dinner every Wednesday in an effort to reduce meat cost in our house. I'm going to try this recipe to see if my hubby will go for it! Thanks!

Anonymous December 29, 2009 at 11:19 PM  

That looks so good! It has been years since I made homemade lasagna - trying to get it made with little ones underfoot seems like a major undertaking! I will add this recipe to my collection of 'Recipes To Try . . . Some Day."

Michelle December 30, 2009 at 10:27 AM  

Lisa - Ohhh it is. We finally finished off the leftovers yesterday, and they were still yummy :)

Brenda - Me, too. Hearty and yummy and filled with love....

Sherry - It is. It isn't fully "traditional" but I love it and it's mine :)

Alexis - You're welcome. It's super easy, too.

Hyacynth - Who doesn't, really? Even Mister Man (who has texture issues galore) loves my lasagne!

Connie - Bechamel is a great mother sauce. Add some cheese and voila you have a cheese sauce, etc. Learn to make it, and you can make SO many other dishes. And it's really easy and forgiving :)

Anon - Umm I did also have this pretty good boyfriend who totally rocked and made homemade spinach gnocchi for me one night as a surprise when I came home from a business trip. He didn't keep the recipe unfortunately, so I could never recreate it and give him credit though.

Candi - You can make it sans meat (which is how I eat it) or with pepperoni between the layers (which is how I make half of it for my dad and husband). Since you're doing so much of it from scratch, the cost is way down -- and it has lots of leftovers!

Nichole - Should I guess by about how many years? Out of curiosity, have you tried cooking with your kids yet? My wee ones are fascinated by it and pull up stools to help constantly. I think it's pretty cool, and it allows me ot get stuff done knowing they're adequately entertained and supervised.

Sherry @ Lamp Unto My Feet December 30, 2009 at 12:29 PM  

This sounds amazing! :D LOVE lasagna!!

septembermom January 1, 2010 at 7:11 PM  

Any kind of lasagna is on my list! Thanks Michelle for another great one:)

Michelle March 7, 2010 at 10:25 PM  

Sherry - It's pretty good. Extremely filling, but pretty good!

Kelly - Now I'm intrigued, how many lasagnes do you have on your list? Me, I'm picky about mine!

Michelle March 7, 2010 at 10:25 PM  

Sherry - It's pretty good. Extremely filling, but pretty good!

Kelly - Now I'm intrigued, how many lasagnes do you have on your list? Me, I'm picky about mine!

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