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Easy to make lasagna

Lasagna really is one of those dishes that seem hard, but is actually quite easy. It seems like a lot of ingredients, but really, its not as bad as it seems... and it seems like its fairly rigid in design, but is actually quite versatile.

BLOG POSTINGS > Everyday Meals

Easy to make lasagna

by zirbirt

Lately I have been having trouble with my camera... and it really isn't the camera's fault. When making my lasagna, I got so wrapped up in making it, that I didn't bother to check the settings. So, I didn't notice my little monster had gotten ahold of the camera and adjusted the settings. I mean really adjusted them. So, everything in the posting will look like it fell out of a cooking magazine from the 1970's... I'll just call it retro blogging.

Last night, however, I made the worst camera mistake you can possibly make. Well, maybe not the worst.. but a pretty bad one. I made delicious hand tossed pizza. The results were a thing of beauty, and I was excited to post about it. I was even going to put my poor lasagna posting off for yet another day, so I could share this amazing 16" pizza. I was very proud... It was gone in a flash and everyone raved... So, I grabbed my camera this morning and went to pull out the memory card, only to discover, I forgot to put it in.

My Cannon DSLR has no internal memory (which seems really stupid to me)... So all those wonderful pictures were not saved anywhere. That pizza is lost for good. Which sucks, because it was my Mona Lisa of pizzas.. any other pizza I make will be merely a tribute to that pizza... well not really, I will probably make one dang close to it again in the near future, but still.. I am saddened.

Well, thanks to my inability to pay attention to my camera, I will actually be posting my lasagna recipe today. As with many things I make, it feels kinda strange to call this a recipe. The reality is, I just throw things in as I think I would like them and hope for the best... This time, I wrote it all down as I tossed it in there..

So, lets see what we need:

Lasagna
1 package Italian sausages (links or ground)
1 lb ground beef
1 cup pepperoni diced
a small handful of sliced pepperoni
6 cloves of garlic (minced)
1 medium onion
2 cans of tomato Paste
2 cans of tomato sauce
1 can diced tomatoes
2 cup mozzarella
1 1/2 cup parmesan cheese grated
15oz ricotta
1 lb lasagna noodles
1 Tbs oregano
1 Tbs basil
salt and pepper

Ok, that is a lot, but it isn't as bad as it seems.

To begin I heat my oven to 350 degrees and place my Italian sausages on a baking rack, then put them in the oven for about 15-20 minutes.

I talk about texture a lot when I talk about pasta dishes. The reason for that is, I'm not a huge fan of pasta... well mushy pasta at least. I do like my noodles a little al dente, but also I like some bite in my sauce. I enjoy different flavors coming from different bites, and I like giving my teeth something to do while I am enjoying my pasta. So, to that end, I chose to slice my Italian sausage, and add them in that way. The downside of this is, if you do not like Italian sausage, you will be getting big identifiable bites of it in this.

So, if you're not a fan of Italian sausage, just get the ground kind, or remove the uncooked sausage from their casings, and add them in with the hamburger. (in other words ignore the instructions above ;-)

If you do like Italian sausage, and enjoy a little extra texture, then cook them in the oven as I described above and slice them up and set them aside.

Ok, so I was being lazy. I didn't want to clean 2 large pots, so I used a medium pot for my sauce. I definitely suggest you use a large pot for your sauce. We are using a lot of tomato in this sauce, plus a pretty good amount of meat. It will fill that medium pot right up, and once it starts boiling... Spatter!

I start by browning my 1 lb of ground beef. Once it is browned I drain it and toss in my onions and garlic and my pepperoni.

Why pepperoni? I almost always add pepperoni to my pasta sauces. I love the flavor, but also love it when I bite into my sauce an happen across a small pepperoni treat. If you don't want to use it, that's perfectly fine, but if you have never tried it.. try it once, and you will see.

I cook this until the pepperoni have a cook on them and the onions are tender.

I then grab my pile of tomato cans and let loose.


The tomatoes, oregano, basil, salt and pepper all go into the pot.

I heat it over medium high heat until it comes to a boil. I stir frequently while bringing it up to a boil, and occasionally when simmering.



Looks messy doesn't it? Yeah.. large pot folks, I'm not kidding here.

Once it comes to a boil, I reduce the heat and let it simmer till my pasta is ready.

For the pasta I bring a large pot of water with 1 tsp of salt to a full boil.

I toss in my noodles and let them cook until they are al dente (meaning cooked but not mushy, they should still have a chewiness to them, but appear cooked an moist all over.)


Once the pasta is cooked I dump it into a strainer and spray cold water over them to stop the cooking process.

Now I can begin assembling this.

I use a 9 X 13 baking pan, preferably one with high walls. I start by putting a fairly thin layer of my sauce in the bottom of the pan.


I then take 6 pieces of my pasta. 5 go side by side long ways (or horizontally) into the pan. The last one will go on the right side of the pan where the other pieces don't quite make it to the edge. On each layer, I alternate what side gets the vertical slice.



Ok so now comes another point where I make a decision based on my preference. I like ricotta in lasagna, but I do not like a thick layer of it. I mean yeah it's pretty, but a bite full of nothing but ricotta is not a yummy bite to me. I prefer to have my ricotta doused in sauce, and not quite so overwhelming. So I take about 1/2 my ricotta and spread it right over that first layer of noodles.

I then take about half my sliced Italian sausage and place them right on the ricotta.



Now I add in about 1/2 of my sauce and spread it evenly (if you like sauce on top of your lasagna, just use 1/3 of the remaining sauce here). I then take about 1/3 of my parmesan and 1/3 of my mozzarella and add that on top of the sauce.


Then a second layer of noodles...


Then ricotta, sausage, sauce, cheese and another layer of noodles.

Ok, so a couple of other decisions had to be made here.

The first was whether I wanted sauce on top of my final layer or not. I decided I did not. I am very strange and love the crunch on those top noodles. If I put sauce on there, I don't get the crunch, so I decided not to. You may like the sauce on top, and if you do, just use 1/3 of the sauce for each layer instead of half the sauce.

Also a major decision is whether I press the lasagna or not. Pressing helps remove excess air and makes the final lasagna more firm and solid. I am not a huge fan personally, but It is definitely a valid process. If you do want to press it, simply take another 9 X 13 pan and lay it right on top of the lasagna. Then stick a couple of cans of soup or whatever, in the corners and on in the middle. Then just leave it alone for about 15 minutes.

Now that we are past all that...

I add my remaining cheese and my pepperonis. (yes, I was 1 short on the pepperonis.. who knows what happened to it, I blame aliens)


Ok so this whole thing goes into my 375 degree oven for about 30-40 minutes.

Once it is done, just pull it out and let it set for about 10-15 minutes. Trust me, you want to let it set.

Then just slice in an enjoy.

In my opinion lasagna isn't so much about following a perfect recipe as much as it is about just doing it in a way that works for you. There are lots of decisions and choices you get to make when you make lasagna, and lots of room for experimentation. So, have fun with it.

Thanks for reading!



zirbirt
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