Oh, where do I begin?
In the freezer, I guess.
A few weeks ago I took…let's see…some tomato sauce I'd made with most of the remaining frozen roasted tomatoes in our freezer (from last summer's garden)…some shredded, leftover beef from a stock Bill made last month…and some boneless pork rib meat…and onion, and garlic, and threw it all in a pot and simmered it for hours and hours and hours, tasting now and then and checking for seasoning.
A ragu, I guess, though I didn't follow any recipes. The sauce was a thick, flavorful blend of the aforementioned tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, and I really don't remember what else. Oregano? Salt and pepper. Wine. I think that's probably all of it. I ran it through the food mill and then divided it up and froze some of it.
The rest I saved for this ragu.
Now we move forward in time…I made some ricotta – both cow's milk and goat's milk. I was in the mood for something hearty and easy. Lasagne fit the bill.
But what kind to make? Alex doesn't like soft cheeses. I knew he'd be okay with a little ricotta, but not a lot. Well….I could always make two…one with meat, and one with just cheese…but would I have enough stuff for the meat one? I didn't have any meat other than what was in the ragu. How about some spinach? That would be good. Healthy. And, hey, I had some pepperoni…I could chop that up and add it to the spinach, along with a little egg, ricotta, salt and pepper. Perfect.
So that's what I did for Lasagne #1.
Oh, also, I didn't have a lot of lasagne noodles. In fact, I had exactly 15 of the "no boil" kind. But no problem, I'd manage.
So here we go. A little layer of ragu…layer of noodles…layer of spinach mixture…
(I used to love grilled cheese sandwiches with muenster cheese…mmm.)
Make that other two.
I had, as I mentioned, two batches of ricotta. One made with cow's milk, like this, and one I'd made with goat's milk. So I could make a lovely cheesy lasagne…only…I really, really, really didn't want to combine the two ricottas. I wanted to taste the difference between the two.
So…okay, then. I figured I'd make two small pans of lasagne, each one featuring a different ricotta. I used two pyrex loaf pans, and lucky me, I had 6 no-boil lasagne sheets left. Game on.
I drizzled a little olive oil on the bottom of each pan, then put down a layer of pasta. Then, some of the cheese.
In the picture below, the cow's milk ricotta is on the left; the goat's milk ricotta is on the right. The cow's has a little half & half added to it, which makes it creamier. The goat's milk is on the dry side.
Ah, yes. Sauce. I made a very basic béchamel – just butter, flour, and milk. A little salt and pepper.
I also had 3 slightly wilted scallions in the vegetable drawer of the fridge. I figured these pans could use a bit of color.
Oh, and I figured some more parmesan couldn't hurt.
So there we go. Three pans of lasagne. Into the oven they went, for about half an hour or so at 350 degrees, F. Maybe longer. I baked them, covered in foil, until they were bubbling along the edges, and then took the foil off and baked them a little longer.
The verdicts? They were all good. Well, Alex wasn't hungry, but he also wasn't really feeling well. Julia had some of the cow's milk ricotta version, and she finished it right up. My husband had a serving of each, believe it or not. I was a little, well, stunned that he ate so much, but happy, too. I had a little taste of the meat and the cow's milk ricotta versions, but the one I really wanted to try was the one I'd made with my goat's milk ricotta.
And it was exactly as I'd hoped. Lush and creamy, of course, and with a distinct (but not overwhelming) goat cheese flavor. I'd been afraid that somehow that definitive goat cheese flavor would some how disappear in the baking, perhaps leeching out into the bechamel and evaporating amid the steam curling out of the edges of the pan. But, NO! Oh, it was so yummy.
I took pictures of each lasagne, plated, but to be perfectly honest, they looked horrible. I was rushing, and all the pictures look like I just slapped some lasagne on a plate and snapped the picture. Which is pretty much what I did, so I have no excuse. Here – see for yourself.
And that, my friends, is my story of the lasagne trio. I do want to reiterate that, if you like goat cheese, you should make some goat's milk ricotta and then make yourself some lasagne with it. Bill thought it would be nice with shrimp baked in, and I'm thinking an assortment of seafoods – firm-fleshed things like shrimp, scallops, lobster, and so forth, would be nice, too.
So, clearly, I have to make more goat's milk ricotta, just so I can make a seafood/goat cheese lasagne, right? Right.