Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Make Ahead Lasagna

using regular noodles, not having to cook them ahead!

I love this lasagna because I do not have to cook the noodles (or buy special no-boil noodles). What I do is let it sit overnight in the refrigerator all assembled so that the noodles soften. I love to make this, you can freeze it, make it a day ahead when you have a busy night, not having to sacrifice a good meal because of a busy schedule; use it for hospitality when someone has a new baby, or is ill.

I brown a pound of 90% ground beef, and add granulated onion, granulated garlic, salt, pepper, basil and parsley.

I don't measure, just eyeball it. I like a lot of spice. I use "granulated" rather than "powder" because the flavor is more pure.

I drain the fat from the beef by pouring it into an empty tin can, or into a pyrex glass measuring cup until I am done with my spaghetti sauce jar. Then I use that to dispose of the grease! You don't want plumbing issues by letting this stuff down that drain.

Slowly pour your sauce of choice (I use a 2 lb, 13 oz size jar)into your browned beef, stirring and allowing the sauce and meat to simmer for a few minutes. I mix about 1/4 Cup water in the jar and shake it, to get every bit of sauce out of that jar, adding it to the pan. Don't worry it won't be watery, the noodles will absorb it. ;-)

If you are going to pour the grease into your empty sauce jar, this would be a good time to do so, replacing the lid, and either throwing into your trash or storing somewhere to keep using until it is full.

Add 3/4 cup Ricotta cheese, 2 eggs, more spices if your prefer...I do add more granulated garlic, granulated onion, little bit of basil and little bit of parsley. Mix very well until nice and smooth.

Time to get out your 9x13" casserole pan, 2 blocks of mozzarella cheese, a bag or block of Pecorino Romano cheese (normally found in the fancy cheese case near the deli). Also, I buy two 1-lb. blocks of mozzarella, cut into medium cubes and run through my food processor. Grating myself, I save $$.

Spread a small amount of meat sauce or just enough to lightly cover the bottom of the pan.

We are going to be making layers:

1/2 the ricotta cheese mixture spread evenly over noodles
meat sauce

Repeat another layer as above.

For the last layer we will add:
no ricotta for this layer
a healthy amount of mozzarella

This looks wonderful, and it's so heavy to lift!!! Now we simply cover with foil and set in the fridge overnight to soften the noodles and mingle the flavors. If you prefer to make this for your freezer it freezes for future use beautifully.

Important note:When it's time to cook, let this sit out awhile to come up in temperature. Secondly, do NOT preheat your oven, on the contrary, put the dish in the oven, then set to 350 degrees for an hour and a half. The last thing you want is your cold pan going into a hot oven and shattering!!! I know, because I've done it in the past. LOL
If you are making this for hospitality, you may choose to use a disposable pan, and not worry about getting your pan back. If you are freezing, thaw in fridge overnight before cooking, and the cooking time will remain the same. ;-)

Now it's time to clean this place up!

It literally only took minutes to clean my work area. Next I will spend 5 minutes doing the dishes and everything will look as usual. Later I will make some bread.

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