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Sunday Night Dinner in “The City”

September 11, 2007

The West Coast version of MND started up this past weekend in “the City” (Eddie Izzard pronunciation necessary). Sunday nights are our night of choice at the moment. I thought I’d start off small; 6 people seemed just about right. Which was a great idea in theory, until we realized just before dinner that we only have five normal, dining room-type chairs. Oops.

Goofy got the big, plush desk chair. All hail, King Goofy.

I guess we’ll be investing in a few more chairs here shortly.

Anyway, on to the food!

Lasagna with Basil and Fennel
Adapted from Epicurious/Bon Appetit.

This was originally hearty meat lasagna. I made it that way and really quite liked it, but now I cook for a bunch of veggies (or semi-veggies). I altered it to keep some of the taste (the fennel), but it’s all vegetarian now. You could probably do this with mushrooms and lots of other veggies, but I like eggplant.

Ingredients:

1 pound mozzarella cheese, grated
1 15-oz. container ricotta cheese
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbs (about) olive oil
2 cups chopped onions (or really, onions to taste for sauce)
1 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
Italian Seasoning (I use a salt-free mixture, so I add a little salt on the side.)
Red Chile Pepper (to taste)
1 pinch salt
1 pinch fresh black pepper
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes with puree
1 15-oz can crushed tomatoes with puree (I like having extra sauce)
1/2 cup dry white wine
9 lasagna noodles
2 cups (ish) fresh basil leaves
1 large eggplant

I always forget how long this recipe actually takes to prepare, so give yourself plenty of time. Don’t think you can throw it together in 30 minutes and slide it into the oven. That never works for me, anyway.

Prepare noodles: Put huge pot of water on to boil. Wait. Wait some more. Watch some tv. Wait some more. Do all the steps below and you’ll probably still be waiting. When water finally boils, put in your 9 noodles and cook, following the directions on the box. When finished, rinse in cold water.

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Prepare cheese sauce: mix 1 cup mozzarella cheese, all the ricotta cheese, egg, and 1/2 cup parmesan cheese in a medium bowl. Put in the fridge.

Prepare eggplant: Cut eggplant into slices about a 1/2 inch thick. Place on a cookie sheet and sprinkle lightly with salt. Wait 5 minutes or so (till the eggplant sweats), then rinse. Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray, put eggplant slices back on it, and put in the oven for a few minutes (until the tops start to brown). Take out of the oven.

Prepare sauce: Heat up oil in pot over med. high heat. Add onions and fennel seeds; sauté five minutes. Add tomatoes; add white wine. Season to taste – I usually sprinkle Italian seasoning over the entire top, stir, then sprinkle again. Add your salt and pepper to taste. Cover and let simmer till all the other parts are finished.

Make the lasagna: I use a ladle to measure out my sauce instead of measuring cups. Spoon 2 cups of sauce over the bottom of the 13x9x2 glass baking dish. Place 3 noodles over sauce. Drop half of the ricotta cheese mixture by tablespoonfuls evenly over. Place all your eggplant over the cheese. Top with half of the basil leaves, 1 cup mozzarella, and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Continue layering 3 noodles, 2 cups of sauce, remaining ricotta cheese mixture, remaining basil, 1 cup mozzarella cheese and remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Finish with 3 noodles, 2 cups of sauce, and remaining mozzarella cheese. Cover with foil; place on a baking sheet.

Bake lasagna until heated through, about 1 hour. Uncover after 45 minutes to let the top brown a bit. Let stand for 15 minutes.

Makes 8 servings.

I served this with bread and a small salad (mixed greens, red and yellow grape tomatoes, and green onions). Then we had yummy fresh baked cookies for dessert while we went about trying to Kill Dr. Lucky.

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One comment

  1. I have found that you never need to cook lasagne noodles. For a long time I would go out of my way to find ones that noted they did not need precooking. Then I discovered that if you make “enough” juicy sauce they will cook as the lasagne cooks. (Actually I have never even adapted my recipes; it just seems to work out.) Since then I have never had a problem, and it sure makes it easier — less messy and less cleanup.



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