Monday, August 15, 2011

THE Best Lasagna! ~ IMO {and my family's}

My parents came to dinner yesterday for a little farewell dinner for Son No. 1.  He leaves to go back to down to North Carolina Thursday for his last semester of school.  Summer's almost over and Johnny's leaving.  So sad.  I almost hate this time of year most.

Anyway, when I called over the weekend and invited them, my plan was to serve something simple and relatively easy.  A big pan of lasagna, salad and bread.  Easy.  Filling. Satisfying.

Yesterday, Sunday, we awoke to thunder storms that literally lasted hours.  Drenching rain and dreary skies.  A perfect day to spend cooking away in the kitchen.

Instead of throwing together a quick and easy pan of lasagna using a plain old jarred marina sauce ~ good quality, of course! ~ I decided to look through a few of my many recipe books for something a little special or with a twist.  And because it was a stormy, dreary Sunday morning, having some yummy homemade mariana bubbling on the stove for a few hours would be perfect.

Of course, the first book I start with is Giada's book, Everyday Italian.  When I turned to her recipe for Classic Lasagna, I knew right away that was recipe I'd making.  Her recipe incorporates the use of a béchamel sauce.  I don't think I've ever heard of, or consciously knew of eating, lasagna made with béchamel.  In this recipe the béchamel sauce is mixed with the marinara sauce before the assembly process begins.  It creates a rich but subtle-tasting blush-like sauce.

Photo from Food Network
So I got to work making the marina sauce first.  Darn!  The recipe calls for two 32 oz cans of tomatoes, I only had one.  Not to worry!  With my garden spitting out lots of roma, or plum, tomatoes, I starting seeding and dicing away.  I didn't even peel them! Just added them to the other ingredients in the pot, and after a bit I pulled out the potato masher and gave them all a good pulverizing.

This pic was snapped when the lasagna was cold.  If I'd planned better, and taken a picture of it warm, you'd be drooling at the site of the bubbly cheese and rich sauce.  Just try and use your imagination! LOL
While the sauce was simmering away, I started on the other main components.  Browning the ground beef.  Partially boiling the noodles.  Mixing the ricotta and egg and seasonings. Making the béchamel sauce.  The recipe also calls for spinach, but I omitted it this time.

This was THE best lasagna I've ever had.  Everyone raved about it.  Well, about as much as my family "raves" about food.  It was creamy, cheesy, without a strong tomatoey flavor.  It certainly took quite a bit longer than the quick, lazy route I had originally planned to take, but it was sooo worth the time and effort.

In Giada's book, she gives the béchamel, marina and lasagna recipes in separate areas of the book.  That would be an awful lot of typing for me here to share the entire recipe with you all.  I thought it would be easier to try and find the recipes online and refer the links.  However, in the few different places I found her recipe, it was not exactly the same as in her Everyday Italian book.

In her book, she instructs you to make (unless you've made ahead) the béchamel and marina sauces.  Using 2-/12 cups of the béchamel and 1-1/2 cups of marina, combine them, and then use that combined sauce when assembling the lasagna.  As you'll see from the link I provided at Food Network's site, that's not really specified.

I'm sure if you try this recipe, you and your family will not be disappointed.  It was time consuming, but it's such a great make-ahead dish, and we have some yummy leftovers in the frig and freezer.

Click on the link below to go directly to Food Network's site to view Giada's recipe.
Classic Lasagna

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Kerin said...

oh..that does look good! Thanks for including the link!
Where did the summer go?! It is hard to believe that school is about to begin again.
Have a great week :)

GK said...

Looks very good -- I'll have to try this recipe -- lasagna is a favorite with "oldest daughter" !! :)

M.L. @ The House of Whimsy said...

Very, Very impressive!!!! I've never tried it from scratch. I love how you used your homegrown tomatoes. Kudos, Carla!!!

Ambs said...

I generally only make lasagna once or so a year, but this looks so good I may have to give it a try soon!

Donna Heber said...

This looks so delicious! I wish I had a piece right now :-)

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