Lasagna Variations

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Lasagna Variations

Postby Howie Hart » Wed Jan 03, 2007 4:59 pm

I made lasagna for Christmas Eve dinner. My wife used to make it every year and she would make 2 different ones - one meatless, with a layer of spinach and a layer of mushrooms, plus the obligatory ricotta cheese/mozarella/egg mixture and red sauce. The other would use a combination of Italian sausage and ground beef. The one I made this year was pretty much the latter, but I added one thin layer of spinach and a layer roasted red peppers, which turned out very nice. (I left out the mushrooms because a couple of the diners don't like them. :roll: ) What other variations do you do with lasagna?
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Re: Lasagna Variations

Postby Carrie L. » Wed Jan 03, 2007 6:20 pm

Howie, my favorite lasagne recipe is one I posted to the old FLDG pages, and it's very much like the one you just made, with roasted red peppers and Italian sausage, but with a porcini bechamel layer (Would not have worked for your friends who don't like mushrooms).

P.S. I think lasagne is the perfect Christmas eve dish. Decadent and festive. I think I will make that a tradition in our house.

Here's the recipe in case you are interested. My favorite lasagne ever.


For red pepper tomato sauce
1 pound hot and/or sweet Italian sausage, removed from casings
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound white mushrooms, sliced
2 cups finely chopped onion
3 large garlic cloves, minced
3/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, crumbled
a pinch dried hot pepper flakes
4 red bell peppers, sliced thin
2 pounds plum tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, or to taste

For wild mushroom mixture
1 1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms*
1 1/2 cups hot water
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups milk
freshly grated nutmeg to taste

six 7-inch squares instant (no-boil) lasagne*
2 cups coarsely grated mozzarella cheese (about 8 ounces)
2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 6 ounces)

*available at specialty foods shops and many supermarkets

Make red pepper tomato sauce:
In a heavy skillet measuring at least 12 inches across the top cook sausage over moderate heat, stirring and breaking it up, until cooked through and transfer with a slotted spoon to a bowl. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from skillet and add 1 tablespoon oil, white mushrooms, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook white mushrooms over moderate heat, stirring, until all liquid given off is evaporated and add to sausage. Add remaining tablespoon oil to skillet and cook onion with garlic, rosemary, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste until softened. Stir in bell peppers and tomatoes and cook, covered, over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until peppers are very soft, about 20 minutes. In a blender or food processor purée tomato pepper mixture in batches, transferring to a large saucepan as puréed, and stir in vinegar. Add sausage mixture to sauce and simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375°F. and oil a 13- by 9-inch baking dish.

Make wild mushroom mixture:
In a small bowl soak porcini in the hot water 30 minutes and drain liquid through a sieve lined with a rinsed and squeezed paper towel into a measuring cup. reserve 1/2 cup soaking liquid and chop porcini fine. In a heavy saucepan melt butter over moderately low heat. Add flour and cook roux, whisking, 3 minutes. Add milk and reserved soaking liquid in a stream, whisking, and bring to a boil, whisking. Stir in porcini, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste and simmer over low heat, whisking occasionally, until thickened, about 5 minutes.

In a large bowl of cold water soak lasagne squares until softened, about 15 minutes. (Carrie's note: This step is NOT NECESSARY. In fact, works better without soaking them.) Drain squares and pat dry between paper towels. In a small bowl toss together mozzarella and Parmesan. Spread enough red pepper tomato sauce in prepared dish to coat bottom. Over sauce in dish layer in this order: 2 lasagne sheets (cut to fit in one layer), a third wild mushroom mixture, a third cheese, and a third remaining red pepper tomato sauce. Repeat twice, reversing order of red pepper tomato sauce and cheese at end of last round of layering so that cheese is on top.

Bake lasagne in middle of oven 35 to 40 minutes, or until golden, and let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 6 to 8 as an entrée.

February 1994
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Re: Lasagna Variations

Postby Howie Hart » Thu Jan 04, 2007 1:16 am

Thanks Carrie. I'll file it away for future reference. I used canned roasted red peppers and simply put them in as one of the layers.
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Re: Lasagna Variations

Postby Bob Ross » Thu Jan 04, 2007 2:03 am

I've tried Carrie's version -- a great success. I also like this one from Ines (warning: squash lover in the house!):

Here\'s a perfect fall comfort food casserole that combines the savory sweet combination of squash and fresh sage with tender layers of pasta and cheese. I served it the other night with a salad of baby spinach, arugula, pears, dried cranberries and blue cheese. I also had some slow-roasted homemade chorizo sausages alongside as a spicy counterpoint for the meat eaters in the group, but the squash lasagne stands alone as a fine main course. It\'s similar to in flavors but not as fussy to prepare as homemade squash ravioli. Serves 8 generously, with leftovers. (warning--uses butter and cheese generously)

1 medium butternut squash, baked till soft and mashed with salt, pepper and a tsp. of sugar.
(you should have at least 4 cups of mashed squash)

1 onion, minced fine
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 4 oz. stick of butter
1/3 C. flour
4 cups whole milk
12 ounces fresh (not dried) pasta sheets (available at Trader Joe\'s)
salt, pepper, freshly grated nutmeg
small handful of fresh sage leaves
4 cups coarsely grated swiss cheese (I used Jarlsberg) or a combination of taleggio and mozzarella. Any nutty full flavored white cheese would probably work.
freshly grated parmesan, reserved for end of baking time (about 3/4 cup)

Using a 2-3 qt. saucepan, melt the butter and saute the onions and garlic until golden and soft. Add the sage leaves and cook for about 5 min. Add the flour, stir and let bubble, then add the milk. Whisk or stir over medium heat until the sauce thickens and comes to a slow boil. Season generously with salt and pepper and grated nutmeg. Remove from heat.
Using a 9 x 13 casserole that has been sprayed with nonstick vegetable oil, begin assembling the casserole as follows:
put a few spoonsful of bechamel in the bottom of the dish, then a layer of pasta sheets, overlapping them by about 1 inch. Then a layer of squash, more sauce and 1/3 of the grated cheese. Then another layer of pasta, squash, sauce, cheese, and topped with a final layer of pasta. Top this layer with the final 1/3 of the grated cheese, then the rest of the sauce. Let sit for a good 1/2 hour while preheating the oven to 350 degrees. Bake uncovered for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the top is puffed and light brown. Remove from oven and top with the reserved grated parmesan cheese. Let sit for 10 min before cutting into portions. Enjoy!

Sure hope Jenise chimes in -- haven't seen her version of this almost fail safe dish.

Regards, Bob
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Re: Lasagna Variations

Postby Carrie L. » Thu Jan 04, 2007 11:05 am

Oh my goodness. How have I missed this one? That sounds incredible. As Inez says, sort of like raviolis but much less fussy. I think I will make it next time book club meets at our house. (Unfortuntately, my husband doesn't appreciate squash and pasta together.)
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Re: Lasagna Variations

Postby Bill Buitenhuys » Thu Jan 04, 2007 11:13 am

My mom made a variation for Christmas this year where she made meatballs, fried them (she probably baked them), then mushed them up, mixed in some mozzarella and pecorino, then used them as a filling in rolled up lasagna strips (or half strips, I think). Then she covered them in some sauce and baked them.
She said my nana used to make them alot but I just don't remember having them as a kid.
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Re: Lasagna Variations

Postby Jenise » Thu Jan 04, 2007 3:28 pm

sure hope Jenise chimes in

Bob, lasagna is one of those dishes that I positively adore but for which I don't have a favorite recipe. I tend to make it differently every time, usually inspired by something I've seen somewhere to try yet another way. In the back of my mind, for instance, I've carried for over ten years a memory of a recipe for a vegetarian version featuring grilled raddichio that I've never gotten around to making. The actual recipe is long gone, of course, and I'd be on my own in putting it together, but someday, no doubt, the lightbulb will come on in my brain and I'll try that dish.

Best lasagna I've ever had though? Was invited to dinner at someone's house where all the guests were put to work. We made the pasta, the veal filling, the bechamel--the whole thing, and eventually sat down and ate it. We also made bread, salad, and some kind of secundi but I only remember the parts I liked best, the lasagna itself and all the camaraderie of a long lazy afternoon spent cooking with friends.
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Re: Lasagna Variations

Postby Gary Barlettano » Thu Jan 04, 2007 4:47 pm

Howie Hart wrote: What other variations do you do with lasagna?

To me, curmudgeonly stick-in-the-mud that I am, lasagna is like pizza. There is only one true form, i.e. with a ricotta, Romano and mozzarella filling. For the deviant, there exists the same with some crumbled meat in it.

Still in all, like a pizza again, one can do whatever the heck one wishes to do with those lasagna noodles (even in a world without trans fats!!!). I enjoy sweating a variety of garden veggies, maybe zucchini, eggplant, bell peppers, carrots, spinach and onions ... and whatever else is around ... and layering them between said noodles, employing a béchamel sauce as the glue. No cheese at all!! Anticipate an immediate soporific effect, especially if accompanied by wine.

As to the deviant meaty version, I don't care much for just dropping chop meat into the dish, into any dish for that matter. Instead, I will make either a sausage mixture or a meatball mixture in a pan such that there are nicely sized, soft chunks of flavorful chop meat. Crumbling up already prepared meatballs is another way to go.
And now what?
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