It Takes a Village To Make Lasagna in the Round

I often look to memories to create many of my recipes. Childhood recollections and early cooking adventures have been inspiring me lately. As much as I love looking back and reinventing, sometimes it’s nice to be anchored in the present. The here and now is replete with inspiration in the person of the wonderful cooks who share their own cooking adventures on the internet.

MarieThis recipe took a village of great cooks to come to fruition. Marie, the Proud Italian Cook shared the idea for a Round Lasagna on her website. Marie, with her unique Italian recipes and beautiful photos has been an inspiration to me. She’s also been very generous with her advice and encouragement about the finer points of food blogging. Thanks, Marie, and I hope I’ve done your idea justice.ina-garten-0207-xlg

I chose to use homemade ricotta for the main filling. I love the consistency and flavor of homemade compared to store-bought. I’ve always used Ina Garten’s recipe. It’s easy, virtually foolproof, and easily adapts to variation. For this recipe I heated the milk with several smashed garlic cloves and used Champagne Vinegar to create the curds and whey.

Lidia-Bastianich-ChefHomemade ricotta almost insisted on homemade pasta to cradle it’s decadent creaminess. I’ve recently started using a different pasta dough recipe. Any pasta dough starts as flour eggs and olive oil, but Lidia Bastianich’s recipe has given me the best results. Her recipe uses a processor, but I opt to do it all by hand. From flour “nest” to elastic dough ball, I’m up to my wrists in pasta dough.

The lasagna that I decided to make had some traditional elements, like the Ricotta Spinach filling but there were a few ideas that were off the traditional lasagna path. The middle layer was bacon and leeks.DIGITAL CAMERA I’ve been having a serious romance with this combination lately. From potatoes to pasta to eggs …must be the season of the leek.DIGITAL CAMERA

Another twist on tradition was to make the bechamel with a touch of tomato sauce. I also used a roasted garlic, tomato and basil cheese. The result was pink, creamy deliciousness.

Blushing Bechamel
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A colorful take on a classic Bechamel . Tomato sauce, onions, and garlic are added to the traditional cheese sauce. Great for lasagna or any casserole that needs a gentle blush of color.
Blushing Bechamel
Print Recipe
A colorful take on a classic Bechamel . Tomato sauce, onions, and garlic are added to the traditional cheese sauce. Great for lasagna or any casserole that needs a gentle blush of color.
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until the onion begins to soften and the garlic is fragrant 3 - 4 minutes. Add the flour and stir to combine. Continue to cook, stirring frequently for another minute or so.
  2. Slowly add the milk, stirring constantly to keep things smooth. Add the tomato sauce and continue to stir. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Turn the heat off and slowly add the cheese, stirring until each addition melts. If you make this ahead of time, cover the surface with wax paper so that a crust doesn't form.
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The Ricotta Filling combined baby spinach, garlic, and Romano cheese with the homemade ricotta and eggs. Pretty traditional as fillings go, but the perfect counterpoint to the other ingredients

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Ricotta and Spinach Lasagna Filling
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Ricotta and Spinach Lasagna Filling
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a medium fry pan. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add the spinach and cook until the spinach is wilted 3 - 4 minutes or so. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  2. Spoon the ricotta into a medium mixing bowl. Lightly beat the eggs and stir into the ricotta. Add the cheese and pepper and stir again.
  3. Add the spinach and garlic mixture to the bowl and stir to combine well. Taste and add salt if needed.
  4. Use in lasagna, as ravioli filling or to stuff shells or manicotti.
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I used a Chicken Sausage the was laced with Sun-dried tomatoes and mozzarella. The echoing of the cheese flavors was completely intentional. So, the ingredients were ready, the spring-form pan was oiled…let the show begin.

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When I assembled the lasagna, I used a combination of cheeses which was actually based on what I had in the house. they included  Asiago, Manchego, Romano, and Fresh Mozzarella. They all joined the Garlic, Basil & Tomato Cheese to create a cheese extravaganza that actually worked.

Marie, the Proud Italian Cook shared guidelines for assembly that were invaluable. Those tips made the assembly come off without a hitch.  I created three layers. Two layers (top & bottom )of the Ricotta Spinach Filling topped with sausage and cheese. The Bacon and Leek mixture was the middle layer. Cheese and Sauce crowned the casserole that was destined to spend just over an hour in the oven.

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The results were fantastic. The cheeses melted into the sauce, bubbling up and over the sides creating a beautiful browned crust. I allowed the pie to rest as Marie advised. I must say it looked and smelled so good that it was hard to wait, but I did and it was worth it because it un-molded and sliced beautifully. Oh, and it really tasted good, too.DIGITAL CAMERAThis was such a fun way to make lasagna. My family was impressed with the presentation and over the moon about how it tasted. My culinary minded son even took a picture of it.

To the wonderful cooks who inspired me and to my family who encouraged me. Thank you. Love, Mama D

 

2 thoughts on “It Takes a Village To Make Lasagna in the Round

  1. Marie

    Wow Jo Lynn! Such a wonderful post, thank you for your kind words but I must say your lasagna looks awesome! What a great combination of flavors and your cut wedge is picture perfect! Thanks so much, we really need to meet up one day if it ever thaws up around here.

    Reply

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