Monday, March 19, 2012

We've just completed a house move from Hell so I haven't even managed to peek at this site for the past 2 months. But, installed in our new place and boxes amazingly all unpacked at last, I discovered Andrew's suggested Pasta recipe discussion/comments request.

I really like pasta, especially in warmer weather, but my husband doesn't. His list of approved pasta dishes is limited to Lasagne (British style) and grudgingly, linguine with a tomato, cream, chicken, & mushroom sauce. Suggestions to him of pasta related dishes are met with thundercloud scowls and

Le Sigh

I, on the other hand, coming from NYC and having lived alongside Italians (the RIGHT kind of Italians), love almost anything pasta with the exception only of those involving squid ink.

So while I know an enormous number of pasta recipes, I'm going to go with the one which by coincidence, I made this past Saturday: British Lasagne.

For those of you not from the UK who are now busily scratching your head and saying "Huh? British Lasagna?, this is a version of the Northern Italian style Lasagne I'm told. In the US, almost all the Italian Immigrants traditionally came from Southern Italy, especially Sicily. So in the US, we're used to the traditional Sicilian Lasagne - which we know and love. For our family variant, we make a Sicilian style lasagne but because I'm not a big fan of ricotta cheese, I leave that out and just use a bit more mozzarella.

So, essentially British Lasagne is layers of lasagne noodles filled with bolognese sauce (tomato meat sauce), bechamel sauce (white sauce), and parmesan cheese.  Excuse me but that is simply bogus. And disgusting. And a sad waste of good pasta and if you made a yummy simmered red sauce, that's a sinful waste.

Thus, I created a compromise which is essentially my traditional family lasagne with white sauce topping the layers. It's different, it works.

I won't give the exact recipe now as I usually just make this by hand and I'm about to start cooking tonight's dinner. But I will return and add in some exact ingredient amounts for each of the parts of this dish. Experienced "by hand" cooks should be able to make this recipe anyway using the general outline I'll provide.

Lasagna Recipe
bake at 350 F or 180 C (fan)/200 C (conventional)
baking time: 45 min
Prep time - depending on if/how long you simmer the sauce, can be up to 4 hours

Ingredients for the bolognese sauce :
ground beef 10% fat
chopped onions
chopped carrots
chopped celery
chopped garlic
sliced mushrooms
canned chopped tomatoes in juice
red wine
virgin olive oil (or butter works)

Ingredients for the bechamel sauce
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon table salt
1 clove minced garlic
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper

1 lb shredded whole milk mozzarella (please don't use skim milk/low fat; it will turn everything watery!)
1 cup grated parmesan (Not a big fan so I used much less, maybe 1/2)
Lasagna noodles

To be continued...