pasta & recipes: meatballs and lasagna
Lasagna is cheesy, heavenly goodness baked into one dish. It can be dressed up or down. You can add whatever you’d like in its layers. But, we love it plain and simple… cheese, lasagna noodles and sauce. Baked in individual baking dishes, lasagna makes a wonderful presentation at a dinner party. Who wouldn’t want to sit down to their very own baked lasagna?
Basic Marinara Sauce
4-6 tbs olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
4-5 cloves garlic, diced
6-8 leaves fresh basil, chopped
2 tbs chopped, fresh parsley
2 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 large cans tomato puree
½ cup dry red wine
1. In a large pot (make sure it is large enough to hold meatballs if adding), over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Sauté the onions until translucent. Add the garlic, basil, parsley, salt and pepper. Heat, stirring continuously, until leaves of basil wilt.
2. Add the tomato puree and the red wine. Stir thoroughly. Bring to a low boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer for at least 1 hour for plain marinara. If adding meatballs simmer for at least 2 ½ hours.
1 cup bread crumbs (store bought or make your own)
2 slices fresh, soft bread, pulled apart into ¼ inch pieces
¼ cup red wine
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 pound ground veal
1/2 pound ground beef chuck
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2 tbs chopped fresh, flat-leaf parsley
2 tbs chopped fresh, basil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 medium onion, grated (about 1/4 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large egg, beaten
1/3 cup olive oil
1. In a large bowl, combine the bread crumbs, fresh bread, red wine, pork, veal, beef, Parmesan, parsley, basil, salt, onion, garlic, and egg and mix until combined.
2. Using your hands, gently form the meat mixture into 18 slightly larger than golf ball-sized balls. (Packing the meat mixture too tightly together will result in tough meatballs).
3. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of the meatballs and cook, turning occasionally, until slightly browned on all sides, about 6 minutes. Transfer the meatballs to the marinara sauce. Repeat until all meatballs have been slightly browned and transferred to the marinara sauce. The meatballs will finish cooking in the sauce. Do not stir the sauce too vigorously or the meatballs will fall apart.
1 1/2 (16-ounce) boxes lasagna noodles
3 cups ricotta
2 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 pound grated mozzarella
1. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Working batches, cook the lasagna noodles until they are soft and pliable but not limp, 6 to 7 minutes. Remove the pasta from the boiling water and lay flat on a sheet tray to cool. Reserve.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, the Parmigiano-Reggiano, the eggs and about ½ cup red sauce. Mix to combine well and season with salt.
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
4. In the bottom of a 9 by 13-inch deep-dish baking dish, add a couple ladlefuls of sauce and spread out in an even layer. Arrange a layer of the lasagna noodles to completely cover the sauce. Spread 1/3 of the ricotta mixture over the pasta. Sprinkle 1/3 of the mozzarella over the ricotta mixture. Place a layer of pasta going in the other direction as the first layer (this will give a little more stability). Spread 1/3 of the ricotta mixture over the pasta and sprinkle 1/3 of the mozzarella over the ricotta mixture. Add a little sauce over this layer. Place another layer of pasta going in the opposite direction. Repeat the layers of ricotta, mozzarella and a little sauce. End with a layer of pasta covered, but not soaked in sauce. Sprinkle mozzarella over the top.
If making individual lasagna dishes use the small baking dishes that you can purchase relatively cheaply at a craft store. (Usually these dishes are used to bake breads in that are given as gifts.) Most of these baking dishes are the ideal width to fit a lasagna noodle. Simply create many little baked lasagna dishes by repeating the layering process in each dish. You will not, however, change the direction of the noodle as you lay it in the baking dish.