From time to time, it becomes painfully clear to me that I should have used a recipe to make a dish. But lasagna is one of those fantastic meals that can be made 101 different ways and usually turns out delicious. No wonder so many people make it for potlucks, dinner parties and ailing friends.
When it comes to lasagna, I usually go with what I’ve got on hand and/or what I’m in the mood to use. Sometimes I make my own sauce, sometimes I use a jarred sauce or a combination of the two. Sometimes I add mushrooms, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I throw in something random from the vegetable drawer. I used to use the long, ripple-edged noodles that have to be boiled in advance, but I’ve grown to love the no-boil option.
Last night, I had a nice package of grass-fed local ground beef, a package of mushrooms, half of an eggplant left over from when I made curry a few nights ago, and a jar of Wolfgang Puck tomato-basil sauce. That seemed like the beginnings of something amazing. Let there be lasagna!
I started by sauteeing some onions and adding peeled, diced eggplant and sliced mushrooms. Knowing one jar of sauce would not be enough, I added two cans of chopped tomatoes with juice to the sauteing veggies and let it all cook until the vegetables had broken down. Then, I stirred in the Wolfgang Puck. I find that you need at least six cups of sauce to make a good lasagna.
From there, all I had to do was layer: Sauce, noodles, ricotta cheese (mixed with egg, mozzarella and Parmesan), beef, sauce, noodles, and so on, ending with sauce and plenty of mozzarella cheese on top.
There’s something so satisfying about a huge, heavy pan of lasagna. It’s a dish that is impossible to make in small quantities (at least in my household). My version last night was pretty yummy, I must say, with enough eggplant flavor to taste like eggplant Parmesan and beef lasagna got together and had a delicious baby.
I’d be willing to bet that nobody reading this blog entry makes lasagna exactly the way I made it last night, just because there are so many different ways to make it. Heck, I’ll probably never make it exactly that way again myself.
How do you make lasagna? Do you like the no-boil noodles? Do you use a mixture of meat or do you prefer vegetable lasagna? Do you always make your sauce from scratch? I think we should have a multi-layered conversation about this spectacular dish.