Autumn is a great time to make lasagna – the colors of the lasagna are reminiscent of the colors of the autumn leaves, lasagna warms body and soul, and an oven warms a home. Ground beef is optional for this dish, but is included in this recipe.
For a brief time I worked washing dishes and doing prep for making lasagna and calzones at a restaurant near where I was studying – being a chef seemed a good idea. I wasn’t very quick at dish-washing. Not sure how I stacked up on prep. But I learned that lasagna can be stacked with many different ingredients (and that calzones can be both dinner and dessert). Awesome.
So here is a lasagna I made in 2007 for a family dinner, with ingredients we had that day.
1 lasagna pan
A cutting board or two, and sharp knife
spatula or large spoon or spreader of sorts
helps, but not necessary:
tool to puree tomatoes and squash other than knife and flat cutting board (cutting board with channel helps, or, a food mill, a food processor, a blender, an immersion blender, a mezzaluna and bowl …)
parmesan cheese grater
parchment paper for over the baking tray for roasting vegetables
Veggies: tomatos (fresh, in chunks), tomatos (roasted, into sauce – there are many varieties, and though no longer sure, guessing this recipe included more than one variety of tomato), summer squash (roasted, into sauce), mushrooms (thinly sliced), zucchini (rounds), zucchini (shredded), onions (chopped and carmelized)
Meat and Cheese: Beef (Ground) – optional, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese grated, mozzarella cheese shredded, Sharp Cheddar cheese (grated), Ricotta Cheese (or perhaps instead full fat cottage cheese, or a cottage cheese), an egg
PASTA: Whole Wheat Lasagna Noodles (more brown in color usually, boiled about half the regular time on the box), and Wheat Lasagna Noodles (Whitish in color, also boiled about half the regular time, or use non-boil lasagna noodles)
Ingredients in order of layers (the three lasagna pasta layers in caps and italics):
parmesan cheese (was the cheese I used Parmigiano-Reggiano? Not sure, but if so, this lasagna would be extra great).
something – can’t read it – not sure an ingredient – but a bit of olive oil drizzled would work, and herbs and spices
tomato chunks – fresh
mushrooms – thinly sliced
thin sliced zucchini rounds – very thin, probably at an angle for the larger rounds depicted in the drawing.
mozzarella cheese, shredded (mixed with Cabot’s cheddar cheese)
WHOLE WHEAT PASTA – probably partially boiled
hamburger and herbs and spices
chopped and carmelized onion
Ricotta cheese (15 ounces whole milk with
1/4 cup parmesan cheese)
WHOLE WHEAT PASTA – partially boiled
tomato sauce (roasted tomatoes and summer squash, roasted with olive oil salt and pepper, pureed – more tomatoes than summer squash)
shredded zucchini raw
mushrooms raw, uncooked
Ricotta cheese mix scraped on top of
NO BOIL WHITE WHEAT PASTA, dry, OR WHITE WHEAT PASTA partially boiled
tomato sauce (roasted tomatos and summer squash sauce)
For making tomato sauce using only a knife and cutting board after having roasted tomatos and squash, to process and not lose the juice, cut/mash only a few tomatos and squash at a time, and scrape tomato and juice into a bowl – a board with channel helps.
As mentioned above, the zucchini are processed two ways – shredded for a lower layer, and sliced very thin at an angle for large rounds (oval rounds).
The pasta if only partially cooked through when boiled. Enough liquid from ingredients (such as watery ingredients like tomatoes, and even summer squash and herbs) will let the noodles finish cooking, or cook, and enough to have adequate moisture throughout the lasagna to be a delicious lasagna. I’ve written 6 to 12 tomatoes, but as I am writing this 13 years after making this recipe; 6 to 12 tomatoes is likely correct, depending on size of the tomatoes. Possibly, however, I used a few more or a few less, depending on the size and number of both tomatoes and summer squash. My guess is 2 summer squash to about 10 medium tomatoes (or rather, something like 2 small, 5 medium, and 3 very large tomatoes, or various varieties, or more).
There is no garlic in the recipe. Unusual, though great for people that do not eat garlic.
Roasting a head of garlic, however, to use in this recipe while the oven is on anyway would be great – take out the roasted garlic cloves from the papery bulb, chop lightly, and place on top of a layer of sauce – this will lightly flavor the lasagna sauce and lasagna, adding bursts of roasted garlic flavor.
Like spreading dry pasta with cheese, one might spread zucchini rounds with roasted garlic, but I am not sure exactly how they would be incorporated – maybe more then on rounds which are lapped over each other and sprinkled with mozzarella, either at a flat angle, or if enough, at a more pronounced angle, like geological layers of rock shifted upwards at an angle – cheese might help in this.
Garlic would be good almost on top of the lasagna also, with the fresh tomatoes, herbs, and parmiggiano-reggiano – however, that close to the oven’s heat source, some of it exposed, use freshly chopped garlic. Great.
For Canines? Not with the onions – if you would like to give your dog a bit skip the onions, or instead of onions include another veggie. Possibly instead of the no-boil lasagna layer consider using lasagna made out of rice perhaps (careful of any additional ingredients in the pasta, if not using a plain wheat and water pasta or rice and water pasta).