Cheese · Lasagne · Pasta

Lotsa Lasagne

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. 

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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. 

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The rest I saved for this ragu.

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We had half of the ragu for dinner, with medium pasta shells…

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And I froze the other half.

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…

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Spread the spinach out…add more ragu…another layer of noodles…well, you get the idea.

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And, on the very top?  I didn't have any mozzarella.  I used sliced muenster.  It's nice and stringy – I figured it was a good substitute. 

(I used to love grilled cheese sandwiches with muenster cheese…mmm.)

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Okay, one down.  I let that sit there while I made my other lasagne. 

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.

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But wait.  Is that it?  Just the cheese and the pasta?  Something was missing.

Ah, yes.  Sauce.  I made a very basic béchamel – just butter, flour, and milk.  A little salt and pepper. 

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Nice and thick.  And then, at the very end, because I can't leave well enough alone, I grated in some parmesan.

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I spooned some of that over the cheeses in my pans, and continued on with the layering – pasta, ricotta, béchamel – until I reached the last layer.

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I had three slices of muenster left.

I also had 3 slightly wilted scallions in the vegetable drawer of the fridge.  I figured these pans could use a bit of color.

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Oh, and I figured some more parmesan couldn't hurt.
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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.

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I think I could have left the two small pans in longer, to let the top layers turn more golden brown, but we were hungry.

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.

Slap.

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Slap.

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Splat.
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I did, however, take a picture of my beloved goaty lasagne the next morning, and these look a little bit better.

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Not a great picture, but better than my slap shots from the night before.

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.

 

4 thoughts on “Lotsa Lasagne

  1. The white lasagnes look amazing. As a kid, I was on a diet for health reasons and couldn’t have tomatoes or meat so my mom always made me white, vegetarian lasagnes and now I think they’re way better than any lasagne with a red sauce.
    Also, the cows milk ricotta looks amazing with the half and half. I’m planning on trying your ricotta recipe in the next few weeks.
    Thanks for all of the beautiful (and no-doubt tasty) ideas!

  2. Yum – those look delicious! I’ve recently taken to making chicken and mushroom lasagne when I have leftovers from a roast chicken – I just use a basic bechamel, well seasoned, and mix fried halved or quartered mushrooms and chunks of coked chicken in. I guess some peas might be nice in there too and add a bit of colour. Then layer up as usual and top with plain bechamel and some grated parmesan.

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