Sear, Simmer & Stir

Life, style & food in the District

Winter Layers = Lasagna

Winter Layers = Lasagna (Rachel Nania)

Winter Layers equals lasagna (Rachel Nania)

Fuck it’s cold.

I mean, I just got off a plane from Boston and I think it is actually colder in the District than it is in New England. I know it’s winter, but seriously?

Unfortunately, come this time of year, my all-too-crystal-clear-tropical-water desktop display does not even begin to lighten my mood or make me hopeful in an “it will soon be warm again” sort of way.

No. It’s cold out, and it’s not even February. This winter is going to be long, and it’s going to suck.

Making fresh pasta (Rachel Nania)

Making fresh pasta (Rachel Nania)

Thankfully, I have lots of cheap wine and comfort food to keep me warm, from the inside out.

Just as I like to layer up when I go out in this weather, I like to layer up at the table, as well. After all, layering is a great way to incorporate all of your nutritional necessities in one bite – and let’s not overlook the fact that there is something so comforting about a meal that’s baked – or cooked (thank you, Crockpot) – in one dish for a sustained period of time. It’s like an instant hug to your tummy.

Kneading the pasta (Rachel Nania)

Kneading the pasta (Rachel Nania)

I recently made a lasagna that was just that – a hug to my tummy. This recipe/process is by no means a quick, weeknight dinner. In fact, it’s something best saved for cold, gray weekend afternoons when you just want to stay inside and have the cooking elements on to provide heat and good smells.

Cranking out some pasta (Rachel Nania)

Cranking out some pasta (Rachel Nania)

In my lasagna, I used fresh pasta – something I like to bust out every now and then.  Not only does making fresh pasta taste incredible, but it also makes the house smell like Bin 26… and it’s a cool party trick when you’re looking to impress.

Hanging some fresh pasta (Rachel Nania)

Hanging some fresh pasta (Rachel Nania)

That being said, dried pasta would also work. But please, for the love of all things lasagna, do not use a canned/bottled sauce. The sauce doesn’t actually take that long. And (I can’t believe I am typing this, I sound like my grandmother), it’s really easy to make a big pot on Sundays and freeze it off in smaller portions, to pull out during the week.

Time to layer up (Rachel Nania)

Time to layer up (Rachel Nania)

Throw some spinach in there to sneak in some nutrition (Rachel Nania)

Throw some spinach in there to sneak in some nutrition (Rachel Nania)

Peek-a-boo (Rachel Nania)

Lots and lots of layers – It’s like a hug to your tummy (Rachel Nania)

Great for special occasions or cold nights (Rachel Nania)

Great for special occasions or cold nights (Rachel Nania)

Now excuse me while I go put on a mumu… and lots of other layers.

Rachel’s Fresh and Homemade Lasagna

Ingredients

  • My sauce (See previous post)
  • Fresh pasta sheets (See below – Serving size depends on how much you are making/how big your pan is. Use your eyes, not science.)
  • Fresh spinach leaves
  • 15 ounces ricotta cheese
  • Dried oregano
  • Sea salt
  • Dried basil
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 eggs
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Sliced tomatoes
  • Grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, 3 eggs and a pinch or two of oregano, salt and basil. Set aside.
  2. After making the fresh pasta (or you can use dried lasagna noodles – just cook according to packing instructions) and the sauce, butter the bottom of a pan and start to layer! (I cut the pasta to fit the pan, but do what works for you.)
  3. In the pan, layer the pasta sheets, the ricotta mixture, a layer of sauce, a layer of spinach and a layer of shredded mozzarella.
  4. Continue until you get to the top of the pan.
  5. On the last layer, place the pasta noodles, the ricotta mixture, a layer of mozzarella, a layer of thinly sliced tomatoes and a thin layer of grated Parmesan cheese.
  6. Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 40 minutes or until cooked though.
  7. In the last 5 minutes, add a thin layer of shredded mozzarella cheese to the top and cook for a quick second or so under the broiler.
  8. Let rest, serve and enjoy! Or freeze. Or eat throughout the week. It feeds an army. So I hope you’re hungry.

Fresh pasta (Serving size: About 2)

Ingredients

  • ¾ Cup flour
  • 1 egg

Directions

  1. Make a well with the four, crack the egg in the well and mix it all together with a fork, adding a pinch of salt– eventually lead into a knead.
  2. Roll into a ball and wrap in plastic.
  3. Let sit for about 30 minutes.
  4. Roll through a pasta machine on the thickest level and crank through on each consecutive lower level until you have thin sheets of pasta.
  5. Hang or rest the pasta sheets so that they do not stick to others.
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This entry was posted on January 23, 2013 by in Main Dish, Vegetarian and tagged , .

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