Recipe of the Week: Lasagne Bake for Two

lasagnebake2Who doesn’t love lasagne? Its the dish so many of us call comfort food, slathered with sauce, cheese, and the ever tempting pasta we just can’t leave out of our lives. My consumption of pasta is virtually daily, as the classic buttered and parmesan version means only comfort and deliciousness for me. My go to as a child, it continues to be my go to as an adult. It has such a bad rep of being an “unhealthy” ingredient, but the reality is all the extra “stuff” that gets tossed in with it. Those cheesy alfredo sauces or heavy buttery restaurant versions that kill your waistline. Its not the pasta, its the stuff you mix with it! Keep it simple like with this bake for two recipe.

If you must adopt the gluten free lifestyle, there are so many delicious versions out there, so fear not this recipe as a gluten free alternative can be a more than acceptable substitution. For those of you not allergic to gluten, but do want to remain relatively healthy, opt for the whole wheat version, adding a healthy dose of fiber and whole grains to your diet. Don’t be gluten free just because you think its healthy, flour is flour and the end result will be the same. Leave the gluten free products for the folks that really need them. (Check out these top 10 Gluten free super foods for Celiacs!)

In this recipe, I use a classic white pasta of the “no boil” variety. It is such a great alternative when you don’t have much time and just want to get dinner on the table. It makes lasagne a question of assembly, rather than a long stint in the kitchen preparing each ingredient before you even think about assembling. Plus, if you’re cooking for one or two, this recipe is just for you. Those of you with 3 or more, make the recipe by doubling your ingredients and using a larger dish. Consider a longer cook time, as well, since you have more in your dish. Just make sure to watch and test the lasagne to not over or under cook.

Lasagne Bake for Two

Ingredients

  • Lasagne noodles, about 6 full sheets (precook if using whole wheat or regular noodles. This recipe uses no boil versions which do not need to be precooked)
  • 2 cups of Your favorite Tomato sauce – I prefer to make my own sauce from scratch, but use your favorite version to keep you happy and healthy
  • 2 cups Part skim Ricotta cheese – Many versions of lasagne use béchamel sauce instead, find a recipe for that here.
  • 2 bocconcini size or 1 larger Fresh Mozzarella, sliced
  • 1-2 tbsp Oregano or Basil – quantity is dependent on how flavorful you would like your ricotta to be.
  • 1 tsp Salt & Pepper blend

Directions

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, oregano, and salt & pepper blend and set aside. If you decide to use the béchamel sauce, omit this step and follow the instructions for making the béchamel. You can sprinkle some oregano over each layer of sauce, if you would like.

Use a glass or metal loaf pan that will fit each lasagne noodle. Line the bottom of the dish with 1/4 cup of tomato sauce. Top with a noodle, top with 1/4 cup ricotta or béchamel, top with tomato sauce, then another noodle. Repeat this flow until you have used all of your ingredients or you have reached the top. Make sure the last layer is a noodle, on which you top with fresh mozzarella. Fill in any additional gaps with any remaining tomato sauce along the edges of your dish. This last step is particularly important if you use a no bake lasagne noodle, as the noodles need to be covered with moisture to cook properly. Otherwise, you’ll be left with a burned, crunchy noodle. Sprinkle the very top of the finished lasagne with a pinch of salt & pepper blend (to season the fresh mozzarella) and pop into your oven for about 20 minutes or until the noodles are set.

Make sure you check the package instructions for a no bake noodle to make sure you achieve the correct cooking time for that specific brand. If you use a pre cooked classic lasagne noodle, stick to 20 minutes, regardless of the size and quantity of the dish as you are only aiming to melt the cheese and set the ingredients in place, not actually cook the dish.

For a visual how to on assembly, check out the video on eHow.com!  À votre santé!

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The Miracle of Food

Recently, I have heard the phrase “sharing the miracle of food.”  I had no clue that I have had this exact phrase circling over my head for years now. My sole purpose for sharing with the world my humble love of food is not for the health benefits or the fact that it seems to taste delicious (most of the time), but to share with everyone the absolutely wonderful experience that comes with a meal, no matter what time of day.

Its the immense laughter, the social conversation, the complete moment of relaxation, and fact of sharing it with the people closest to you, that the miracle ensues. You don’t even know its happening to you, but it does.

Are you the family that grabs food from the fridge whenever you’re hungry, rarely enjoying a family meal time? Or do you insist on being around the table, every night, at a designated time, to simply eat together? In my house, unless you had a very special circumstance, sitting around the table at 7pm was a requirement, no questions asked. Looking back, I am so thankful of that family rule (at the time I dragged my feet and dreaded the “how’s school” conversation). Those nights were only the introduction to my realizing the miracle that food creates.

Please don’t be confused. By “miracle,” I don’t mean the heavens have opened up and threw down a feast of turkey thighs and an abundance of vegetables. The miracle of food is simply the joy it brings us, whether or not you realize it actually does.

A few Christmases ago, my Mom and I spent about 16 hours in the kitchen for 3 straight days preparing a midnight buffet and tableful of 13 desserts (explanation of what that is in a later piece) for 9 of us around the table. We were sweaty, exhausted, swollen, and very promptly sucked down that first glass of champagne at the stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve, but ultimately, we were so incredibly happy. The family loved every bite, and so did we. The hours in the kitchen, the failed sauces, the delicious results, and the smiles around the table are all part of the miracle. This is what I want to share with all of you.

Even if it means grabbing your favorite fast food combo and sit in your car to enjoy a greasy lunch, its happening (not that I encourage you to eat fast food!!). Even if you have no idea how to cook, and you break out a new recipe to try because you feel like trying, its happening. Immerse yourself in the few moments you take to eat every day. You would be surprised that, with the right food choices, you could even lose a little weight in the process!

If you have the ability to eat an array of foods, try your palate at something new. If you must be restricted by allergies and sensitivities, go for items that you can garnish with what you like, such as tofu or vegetables that are roasted with oil or a butter substitute. There are so many ways to tailor your diet to your needs and enjoy it all in the process. I am certainly lucky enough to be able to enjoy many kinds of food, but no matter what your limitation, I bet you can too.

So here is to embarking on the wild ride I know I have coming. I am excited to share this “miracle” with everyone and hear about the ones you make for yourselves at home. Holidays are perfect little opportunities to give the miracle making a shot, so start with Labor Day! Squeeze in that last barbecue of the glorious summer season and notice just how good life can be with a little good food, and a lot of great company (even if its just your own).