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My Lasagna Epiphany

March 30, 2011

The weekend before last, in an effort to curb the anxiety that i was feeling, I decided to cook. Now, it’s not often that I have truly useful and original ideas. and in saying that, I am not trying to toot my own horn so much as I am trying to tell you all to go ahead and keep quiet if you have, in fact, had this idea before.

You see, the problem was that I’d make this awesome lasagna every couple of weeks with the intention of lots and LOTS of leftover meals. But the reality of it was that by two or three days into our lasagna feastravaganza we’d be really REALLY sick of lasagna. bummer.  so instead of tons of meals, we often had tons of waste. (And that’s no good. And if you’re thinking why don’t  you freeze the leftovers, well by that time they’d been sitting in our fridge for a few days and were pretty much done.)

So me being a crazy genius thought, “hey! maybe I could make TWO lasagnas instead of one, and just make them SMALLLLLERRRRRR!”

And so I did. And it was good.

**Note: Laura suggested that I could also just halve the recipe. This is also a great plan for reducing waste. However, the thing I love about making lasagna (besides that my husband and son inhale it in a very gratifying manner) is that it’s an excellent way to make a whole lot of food for the effort, so I just needed to find a way to make it stretch out longer so we don’t get sick of it. If you just want less lasagna, then halving is definitely the way to go!**

What I did was this: I made my normal lasagna recipe. I have long since stopped using an actual written recipe for lasagna. What I do is this: basically I make a tomato sauce (or use a bottle (gasp! I know!)) and simmer it with added onion and garlic, meat, or any other ingredient that strikes my fancy. This time I used a jar sauce, added onion, garlic, and ground beef and also added some zucchini that was on its last legs to my sauce. I gave it a small dice first and threw it in while the sauce was simmering.

While the sauce is simmering I make the cheese mixture with 16oz ricotta (one normal sized pack), about 8oz mozzarella (totally eyeballed – about half a 1lb pack of shredded mozz cheese), and a handful of shredded hard cheese like parmesan, romano, asiago, or a mix of the three. I put a enough dried basil (unless I have fresh), oregano and thyme so that my mixture looks pretty decently flecked with green, and I throw in a beaten egg (totally forgot that part this time… oops. not really expecting it to make much difference except maybe with the cohesion).

If I have it in the freezer, I put chopped spinach in with the cheese mixture. I use a whole frozen pack, well thawed and I sop up any excess water with a towel and a mesh strainer till it’s pretty dry. then just mix it in with the rest till it’s well incorporated.

Boil some lasagna noodles and layer it up! easy peasy.

This time I wanted it in the smaller pans so I cut the noodles in half (I told you. I’m a genius) and placed them sideways like so:

Then I layered my good stuff. You really can’t mess up a lasagna.

Once the two mini-lasagnas were complete I popped one directly into the freezer to enjoy at a later date and one will go into the oven tonight for our dinner and Gus’ lunch tomorrow.

I also made banana bread with chocolate chips – and old “family” recipe from when Laura and I used to be roommates back in college. Oh man that stuff takes me back…

And the verdict? Anxiety was still present post culinary exlosion, but my house was warm and cozy in the rain storm and, of course, smells really really good. And we had dinner already made. So overall, I’m calling it a win.

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