Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Recently, a friend was diagnosed with breast cancer, did the whole chemo and surgery thing, and was recovering at home.  I made a couple of dishes that are super easy, super basic a very re-heatable.  The types of things that can be portioned individually, frozen or put into the fridge, and whipped back out as needed.  They aren’t staggering, life changing versions of classic dishes, just good templates to start with, so feel free to play around.

Basic Lasagna:

1/2 pound ground beef chuck

1/2 pound ground sirloin4 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
32 oz crushed tomatoes
2 cups chicken stock
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 pounds fresh ricotta
1 tbs parsley
1 tbs basil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 pound whole-milk mozzarella, shredded (3 cups)
1 large egg, beaten
12 No-boil (or fresh) lasagna noodles

In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat a TINY amount of olive oil until shimmering. Add the chuck and sirloin and cook over moderately high heat, breaking up meat, until no pink remains. Add the garlic, oregano and crushed red pepper then cook until fragrant. Stir in the tomatoes, add stock and season with salt and pepper then bring to a boil.  Simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened and reduced to approximately 8 cups (about an hour.)
In a large bowl, combine the ricotta with the parsley, basil and 1/4 cup of the parmesan.  Add two-thirds of the shredded mozzarella and season with salt and pepper.  Fold in the egg.

Preheat the oven to 375°. Spread 1 cup of sauce in the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish. Line the dish with 4 overlapping noodles. Spread one-half of the ricotta mixture over the noodles, and then top with one-half of the meat sauce. Repeat the layering with the remaining noodles, ricotta, and 1 ½ cup of the sauce. Top with 4 noodles and cover with remaining sauce. Toss the last cup of mozzarella with the remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan and sprinkle over the lasagna.
Bake the lasagna for about 45 minutes, or until the top is golden and crisp around the edges and the filling is bubbling. Let the lasagna rest for 20 minutes before serving.

The lasagna can be refrigerated overnight (or frozen) before baking, or it can be baked ahead and then reheated in a 325° oven.

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