Monday, June 11, 2012


If you wonder whether homemade cheese is worth it, I assure you, it is! We used part of this batch of mozzarella and ricotta for lasagna.

This particular lasagna was a celebration of the fresh cheese we made the other day and the fresh ingredients from the CSA box. It was about half the calories and contains more fiber than your typical meaty, full-fat, white pasta dish, but tasted just as creamy and indulgent as its counterpart, without being greasy.

I made the sauce the night before, so we could quickly assemble the next morning before leaving for the day. I used half strained tomatoes (through the food mill) and half whole tomatoes, broken apart by hand, because I wanted it chunky. I added juicy, thick slices of sauteed mushrooms (sauteed until just soft to retain their moisture), grated carrot (from the CSA box) and plenty of love (among other things).

After running the ricotta through the food processor, it was a little on the wet side (we could have used less milk), so I added an egg to give it structure, along with quickly blanched spinach (chopped spinach into simmering water for literally 1-2 seconds, then strained and immediately into an ice bath) squeezed of its moisture (you can add this rich, green water you squeeze from the spinach into the sauce to retain it) and some parmesan.

The noodles were whole wheat lasagna. If making fresh pasta, you can easily use whole sheets, rather than cutting to noodles.
NOTE: If using dry pasta, par boil to about half of the time listed on the package. This will absorb some extra moisture. If using fresh pasta, make sure to simmer the sauce for a few minutes to reduce it to a thicker consistency, since it won't absorb as much moisture.

Starting with sauce on the bottom (so it doesn't stick to the pan), I layered everything mentioned above, in addition to crumbled veggie Italian sausage (Fieldroast is excellent, if you don't make your own). You could easily use extra veggies (watch the moisture!), meat, whatever you like. You could also omit this layer. I topped with a final layer of pasta, sauce and plenty of mozzarella.

I baked covered w/ foil @ 375F for about 45 minutes, removed the cover and added a little more mozzarella until golden and bubbly. It was about 160F when I took the cover off. An instant-read thermometer should reach 180F (if up to 190F, don't panic) to ensure it's heated through, at which point you can remove it. Let rest for at least 15 minutes to allow everything to settle and for the moisture to balance out. If you've made it ahead, as we did, you should take it out of the fridge a good half hour before putting in the oven.

I garnished with chopped fresh basil (not pictured) to add to its freshness and served with a warm, freshly baked multigrain baguette and a salad with lettuce, arugula (both from the CSA box) and nectarines in a tangy feta, black pepper and yogurt dressing.

Bon appetit!


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