Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Veggie Lasagna

Reposting from how I originally wrote this up in 1999 or so:

Lasanga Recipe

by Joe Morris

My lasangna is more of a set of guidelines than a rule, which makes it annoyingly long, but here goes:


The most important part is to shop right:
These are the same as on the back of most noodle boxes:
1 lb mozzarella
1 lb ricotta
Barilla no-boil noodles (or others, but the no-boiling bit is nice)
Two eggs
Some pasta sauce. Buy good stuff, Classico is good; choose something interesting rather than jut plain marinara.
The most recent one I did a big container of sauce (27 oz, I think) and a little one of alfredo (15 oz?) for two lasagnas, which makes a nice creamy tomato sauce. You'll have to figure out some way to split that for just one. You can leave out the alfredo and it still turns out ok, or you can add in some more parmesean/romano/asiago, some cream/half-and-half, and some butter, which are the main ingredients in alfredo.
The rest is different from the back of the lasagna box.
5-10 oz or more of parmesan, romano, asiago or a mix -- hereafter referred to as just "the parmesan".
Bulb to a bulb and a half of garlic (that's not clove, it's bulb, the big thing)
Pine nuts
Sun dried tomato: either in oil, or it's cheaper to get dried, which you then blanch (put in boiling for a minute or two) before chopping.
Tofu: baked is best, "firm" will do. One package of either, I forget how much the ones I used weighed.
Olive oil, extra virgin
Some wine, maybe half a glass. Use something you would drink. I'd go with red, but white will do.
Fresh spices, or dried ones if you must, choose three or four (I recently discovered a "poultry rub" consisting of the last three, which is nice):
Basil (required, really should be fresh)
Oregano (less important than basil, more important than the rest)
Assorted vegetables, pick what you like. I've put them in descending order of importance:
Green and/or yellow zucchini
Regular onions
Green onions
Red bell pepper (I'd veto green)
I had all but shallots (they're a touch expensive) in the most recent batch.


Preheat the oven to 375
Super sauce: Dice the tofu, set it aside. Chop all of the vegetables down into less-than-bite-size pieces, putting them in the largest frying pan or wok you've got. Chop down the fresh/dried spices (leaving out the little woody stems where appropriate, of course), and put half of them in the frying pan, half aside. Dice the garlic, pine nuts, and sun-dried tomatoes, add them to the pan. Dump on a good amount of olive oil, enough to coat everything and then some. Add salt, maybe a teaspoon or two, and pepper. Turn on the heat and sautee until the onions are translucent. (Optional: the portobellos and pine nuts can use a bit more cooking, so you can throw them in first and cook for a minute or two, with a bit of olive oil; the red pepper can use a minute or two less). Add the wine -- enough that everything gets a little wine on it, but not so much that it gets soaked. Let it simmer for a minute or two.
Flip off the heat, and you now want to mix in the remaining spices, the tofu, and whatever sauce (pasta sauce or pasta + alfredo) together; you may need another vessel than the frying pan.
At this point you can pack the super sauce with the remaining ingredients into tupperware and haul it places in a cooler (like to a cabin at Tahoe, which I've done) and prepare the rest within a half hour -- plus hour for baking, and 30-60 mins for cooling back down.
Cheese sauce: Mix the ricotta, eggs, the remaining spices, and two thirds of the parmesan together.
The mozzarella: Slice it; I usually do so the short way, so you get many small pieces.
The layering
You want to layer the four groups: sauce, noodles, cheese, mozz; that's the order I do it in. End with mozzarella and sprinkle with parmesan. Pyrex dishes are really good for seeing how cooked it is and for cleaning up, so I highly recommend them over aluminum or other materials. Cover with Bake at 375 deg for fifty minutes, pull the foil, bake ten more. Pull from oven, leave sitting for at least half an hour; it will still be pretty hot at that point, it will still be a good eating temperature after an hour.
You can improvise with other ingredients that look tasty; I was thinking of putting sun-dried tomato spread in the ricotta last time, but forgot. Use mozzarella di bufola (the italian stuff, in water; you need a fancy store to get it, like Berkeley Bowl). Stuff like that. Italian Cooking for Dummies is a good way to learn how to think like an Italian chef.