Monday, September 13, 2010

Garfield's Favorite! (Phibe's too)

Garfield, who is also from Indiana (or at least Jim Davis, his creator, is a Hoosier, via Fairmount), is one of the world's authorities on lasagna. That's a pretty good skill for a cat. So, today, after having been quiet for a long time, I wanted to post what I think is my best lasagna so far... Not that I will stop experimenting).
The recipe is really not so difficult, but preparation from scratch, which is what I did this time, does take time. You can use shortcuts, of course, which I will note as we go along. Ready?
From scratch, you'll need a pound of ground beef and a half-pound of pork sausage. I used Hormell spicy, but whatever you like... One medium onion and a half-bulb of garlic. Chop the onion and garlic fine. Saute the onion and garlic until translucent, then drain, while browning the ground meat. Drain the meat, then add the onion and garlic.
Add two cans of diced tomatoes and one small can of tomato paste, a can of black olives (chopped) and enough oregano, fennel, basil, taragon and other herbs to suit your sense of "Italian flavor." Let this sauce simmer for about a half-hour.
You'll also need a 16-ounce container of ricotta, a handfull of fresh parsley or parsley and cilantro, also finely chopped, and one large egg. Blend these together separately in a bowl.
Next is to grate at least 6 ounces of parmesan, 6 ounces of mozarella, and 6 ounces of gorgonzola or blue or whatever "sharp" cheese you favor. blend them together in a bowl.
While this is sorting itself out, bring to a boil a big pot of water with a splash of olive oil (to keep the pasta from sticking and the water from boiling over). Add six lasagna pasta chunks and boil for 8 minutes, poking gently to keep them from sticking. (This is for a 9 by 9 inch baking dish. You may need more for a bigger dish.)
The next trick is the layering of ingredients.
Begin with a layer of the meat-tomato sauce across the bottom of the baking dish. Spread it evenly, then top with the lasagna noodles.
Add the ricotta-parsley-cilantro-egg mixture, spread evenly, then top with another layer of lasagna noodles.
Add a layer of the three-cheese mixture, then another layer of the meat-tomato sauce, then another layer of lasagna noodles.
Finish with another layer of the meat-tomato sauce, then top with the rest of the cheese, adding more if necessary. Cover this with aluminum foil, sprayed with olive oil so the cheese won't directly touch the foil (so it won't stick)
Bake for 25 minutes at 375F (160C). Have a glass of wine, check your e-mails, then remove the foil, and bake for another 25 minutes, until the cheese is a nice golden brown.
I kinda over-filled my baking dish, so to prevent a mess on the bottom of your oven, place a cookie sheet or a sheet of foil beneath the lasagna dish for safety.
I served mine with a fistfull of garden-fresh green beans, some sliced green and red peppers, and toasted sesame seed, accented with artichoke, tomato, olives and fresh basil leaves. Of course, this is an Italian meal, so it wants more wine!