Cooking Is Like Love. It Should Be Entered Into with Abandon or Not At All
I got a gift certificate to Williams Sonoma for my birthday and stopped in Sunday afternoon http://www.williams-sonoma.com/ . There’s a restaurant in Florence Italy that we’ve visited each time we’ve been there. The tables are set with mismatched hand painted plates. They look so pretty with their colourful patterns and I’d been looking for something similar for a while. Williams Sonoma has a new dinnerware collection called the Sicily which I’d seen online. Walking into this store is heaven for someone who likes to cook. Seth stocked up on different steak rubs and hickory smoked salt. I picked up a set of plates, salad plates and bowls then went home and made the best lasagna ever.
I try to cook as much as possible from scratch but after our shopping trip we stopped at a local oyster bar near the beach and had a couple dozen Fanny Bay and Kusshi Oysters with a glass of champagne. By the time we were finished there was no way I’d have time to make a fresh marinara as well as a truffle alfredo sauce and fresh lasagna noodles. I settled for making the lasagna noodles and bought (gasp) jarred sauces. I made them my own however with spices and the meats I added and they came out amazing (don’t mean to toot my own horn but toot toot!). I found a truffle infused Alfredo sauce at Williams Sonoma. I was planning on making one with the truffle oil we bought during our winery tour in Tuscany so this worked out perfectly. Buying jarred certainly cut down my cooking time hence the “lazy” in my title today.
This is my lasagna recipe
I made a large tray with about 8 servings with the ingredients below.
You Will Need:
1 jar of pasta sauce with roasted vegetables
1 jar Ragu sauce with ground beef
1 jar truffle alredo sauce
2 cups ground beef
2 cups ground pork
1 large onion finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1 large handful of fresh basil
1 carrot peeled and cut in half
1 pinch of nutmeg
Spices: I used garlic powder, paprika, onion powder, dried basil, dried oregano
Mozzarella cheese grated
1 container of Ricotta cheese
Parmesano cheese grated
8 sheets of fresh lasagna noodles – I’ll link my fresh pasta recipe blog here:
Place beef and pork in a large bowl and season with a good dose of salt, pepper and paprika. Stir to combine. This is a lazy guide so I “chopped” the onion and garlic in the food processor. Saves all the tears too.
With the meat marinating and the onion and garlic chopped, I quickly mixed the pasta ingredients , formed a ball, and wrapped it in plastic wrap. It’s best to let it sit for 30 minutes before running it through the pasta press so while it sat on the counter I continued with making the pasta sauce.
To a deep pan or crock pot, add a big splash of olive oil and once heated, add the onion and garlic. Stir until fragrant.
Next add the ground beef and pork. Mix well with onions and brown until there’s only a bit of pink colour left to the meat.
Now it’s time to add the 2 jars of sauce. Slowly pour each sauce and mix to combine. A trick I learned in Italy is to add a carrot to the sauce. This cuts out the acidity of the tomatoes. You’ll hear some recipes say to add a pinch of sugar for the same purpose but the carrot does the job.
No need to chop, just add the entire handful of fresh basil and use a wooden spoon to push it down into the sauce. I love the scent of basil and it’s licorice flavour.
I covered the pot and let it bubble on medium heat for a few minutes. Once the basil had softened, I added a teaspoon of each of my spices followed by a pinch of nutmeg (another Italian secret).
I lowered the heat to medium low, covered the crock pot again and let the sauce simmer while I started the lasagna noodles.
In a large deep pot, boil water. Don’t salt the water until you’re about to add the noodles and never add oil to the water.
In a smaller pot either make your alfredo sauce (milk, butter, flour, salt, pepper and truffle oil optional). I just opened the jar I bought and heated it up on the stovetop – talk about lazy.
Cutting the ball of pasta dough I’d made 30 minutes earlier, I pressed it my fingers so it would fit through the pasta maker and with the help of my husband, made 8 perfect sheets of fresh lasagna noodles. Lightly flower the noodles so they don’t stick.
By the time the lasagna sheets were done my water was boiling and in they went for only 30 seconds. You don’t want to overcook fresh lasagna because it is still going to bake for a good 30 – 40 minutes in the oven. Drain the noodles and rinse with cold water so you can handle them.
Time to assemble the lasagna!
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Pour some of the meat sauce on the bottom of the pan and add two sheets of lasagna side by side. Pour more meat sauce over the noodles followed by some truffle alfredo sauce, 8 scoops of ricotta spread down the noodles and a good sprinkle of mozzarella. Keep repeating this until your out of noodles.
To the very top of the lasagna, add the last of your meat sauce, alfredo sauce, mozarella and now add the parmesan. Parmesan will crisp up perfectly at the end when we give it a few seconds under the broiler.
Into the oven she goes for 30 minutes.
Now is the perfect time to set the table; plates, cutlery, your best napkins and candles.
I put some truffle oil on the table to drizzle over top for added flavour.
When the timer went off the lasagna was bubbling. I turned the oven to broil and watched the cheese brown then pulled the lasagna out. I let it stand on the counter for about 5 – 10 minutes (even though we were both circling the kitchen like vultures ready to attack because it smelled so good).
Serve with a glass of wine or Prosecco and prepare for an explosion of flavour.
Thanks for joining me in the kitchen today.