In first grade, my teacher Mrs. Seibold elected a Student of the Week and every time, a questionnaire about that student’s favorite things hung in the classroom for everyone to read. When your sojourn was done, you were given your list to take home.
In first grade, apparently, my favorite food was lasagna.
This is hilarious, considering that for most of my teenage years and adult life, I firmly stated that I didn’t like lasagna. At all. Even when everyone else told me how fabulous Jennie J’s lasagna was, I didn’t budge.
And then John’s mom made lasagna. And I honestly couldn’t.get.enough. She made it for the weekend we moved into our apartment, and I scarfed it down and had seconds.
But, in my world of cooking, lasagna felt overwhelming. Layers of ingredients that I didn’t know … noodles … other, well, stuff. Despite rekindling my love affair, I didn’t try to make it. I left that to the professionals.
(May I repeat a sentence from an earlier blog?)
I finally tried it out the weekend before the man jetted off to Costa Rica. And it was a semi-success. (Sidenote: fresh squash doesn’t cook in 25 minutes, even if it’s in a lasagna and those appear to be the directions).
Tonight, for Thangsday (a Thursday version of WeHangs … if you didn’t get it), I decided to make a lasagna based on the earlier recipe, minus the hard as rocks squash, and plus a couple other ingredients.
In general, it was a success. Here’s how it went.
What you need:
9 lasagna noodles
16 oz Ricotta
5 oz (give or take) of fresh spinach
Fresh sage (at least five or six good sized leaves)
2 tbsp minced garlic
8 cups shredded cheese (I use the Italian mix and one bag of shredded cheddar)
Sweet Italian sausage (1/2 package)
1 package Exotic Mushrooms (or whatever mushrooms you like, or no mushrooms … it’s completely open to interpretation)
What you do:
1. Cook lasagna noodles. Once al dente, drain hot water, and re-fill with cold water (this will keep the noodles from sticking together … I learned this little tip tonight, and I say thank you!)
2. In one bowl, combine coarsely chopped spinach and sage (I pop it all in the food processor and chop it until it’s fairly even, and not too fine) minced garlic and ricotta.
3. De-case sausage, pull apart into bite-size pieces, and cook in small saucepan with a dab of oil.
4. In a separate bowl, combine cooked sausage chunks, mushrooms, 6 cups of cheese, and olive oil. Season generously with salt and pepper.
5. In a 9 x 13 greased lasagna pan, lay three lasagna noodles. Use half of the ricotta-spinach mixture and spread across evenly. Use half of cheese/mushroom/sausage mixture and spread evenly. Lay down 3 more lasagna noodles. Use the remaining ricotta-spinach mixture for the next layer, then add the cheese/mushroom/sausage mixture on top. Use the remaining three noodles for the top layer. Use the final 2 cups of cheese as the topping. Sprinkle with parmesan, salt & pepper.
6. Cook in oven at 350 for 20-30 minutes, or until it starts to bubble. (Helpful hint: line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and cook your lasagna on top of the cookie tray to prevent overflow and having to clean your oven out).
I served it with a little arugula salad tossed with (you guessed it) parmesan, EVOO and lemon juice. Yum yum.
Lasagna, I confess… we’re definitely friends again.