#EPIC Lasagna (Oh yes I did!)

What Ya Need:

Bolognese/Puttanesca Love Child:

  • Olive oil
  • Diced onion (I like sweet or spanish)
  • Chopped garlic (lots)
  • 1 finely diced red bell pepper* (optional) 
  • 1 medium or 2 small finely diced carrot*(s) (optional) 
  • 6-12 pitted kalamata olives finely diced (optional) 
  • 2-6 anchovies finely chopped (optional) 
  • Dashes dried or fresh chopped Oregano
  • Cracked pepper and sea salt (to taste) 
  • 2 bay leaves (optional – take out at the end before putting in the lasagna!!)
  • 1 large portobello mushroom, or several crimini finely diced (optional) 
  • 2 mild or spicy Italian sausages (meat taken out of casing) 
  • Large package of ground beef 
  • Tomato paste
  • 2 cans fire roasted tomatoes (optional) or 1 large can chopped tomatoes or chopped fresh tomatoes to equal this amount (prob 10 roma or 3 beefsteak or 6-8 vine ripened) 

*If you chose to leave out the bell pepper or carrots you may need to add a small spoon of honey or cane sugar to reduce the acidity of the tomatoes as those vegetables add a sweetness to balance the flavour. So I highly recommend keeping in at least one of those veggies! Much healthier that way! Also if you want to have an authentic bolognese you can add in celery, keep the carrot but skip the bell pepper. As well the anchovies and olives give savouriness with a subtle Puttanesca  vibe, however, they are not usually found in a Bolognese… but feel free to play around. That’s why I made the extras optional so you can alter to suit your personal taste!

How To:

Sautee diced onions in olive oil on medium heat in large sauce pan til softened. Toss in garlic, bell pepper, carrot, olives, anchovies and oregano. Add in some freshly cracked pepper,  a dash of good salt and a couple bay leaves (to be removed later).

Mix about and cook til softened as well.

Create a hole in the centre and add a bit more olive oil and the mushrooms, cook a bit and then mix into veg.

Create another hole in the middle of the veg/mush mix (mmmm sounds delectable). Open up the Italian sausages and slice down the casing. Squeeze the meat into the pan. Bash at it with a spatula to break it up. Bash is a technical cooking term. I learned it in the school of hard brocs. I have the certif(iable)icate and everything. I digress.

Add in the ground beef (or elk, or venison, or bison).  Cook the meat for a bit and then mix into the veg. Keep stirring and cooking til the meat is basically cooked through.

Add in the tomato paste and chopped tomatoes. Simmer for a long time. Til it looks like sauce. At least 90 minutes on low with a lid slightly off to let out steam. Or if you are fancy and have a lid with those little air holes, well good for you 😉

While the sauce simmers, do the other bits!

Pasta Sheets:

Fresh flat egg pasta sheets, al dente (if you can’t find fresh you can use conventional dried lasagna  pasta sheets)

How To:

Boil salted water. Toss in pasta, cook it. Til it’s done. But not too done. Just perfectly slightly underdone. Like chewy-ish. It will cook more in the oven. Set aside. You can oil or butter it to keep them from sticking. Or run under water again before layering.

Spinach & Ricotta:

  • Small box or bag or bunch of fresh spinach washed and chopped fine
  • Handful fresh basil washed and chopped
  • Chopped garlic
  • Large container ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup shredded asiago cheese (optional can use extra ricotta if preferred) 

How To:

Mix these items in a bowl til mixed. Mmmk.

Bechamel: (my amounts are approx. if you want you can google bechamel 😉

  • 3 tbs butter
  • 3 tbs gravy flour or 00 flour 
  • 1 1/2 cup milk 
  • 1/2 cup cream 
  • Dash nutmeg 
  • Cracked pepper to taste
  • Dash salt 
  • 1-2 tempered egg y0lks (drop some white sauce into the egg and whisk, add another dollop of sauce and whisk again and then slowly incorporate into bechamel) 

How To:

Butter: melt it in a pan on medium. Add flour. Use a whisk to incorporate into a company. I mean paste. Add milk and cream. Keep whisking as it heats up and it will eventually thicken.

Dash nutmeg, crack pepper, dash salt. Do a pirouette. No don’t. That would be dangerous in the kitchen.

Add a bit of sauce into an egg yolk. Stir. Add a bit more. Stir. Now your y0lk has been tempered and is safe to add to the white sauce. If you don’t temper it you will end up with scrambled eggs in the midst of the sauce, and well, yuck. Don’t do that!

If you wanna make your bechamel Alfredo-y you could add in parmesan cheese. But, there is already a ricotta layer and mozzarella will be layered on top of the bechamel, so I think this would be too much. But I won’t be there to stop you, so do what you like 😉 maybe it will be glorious.

Toppings:

  • Grated mozzarella cheese or slices  of fresh bocconcini if feeling extra fancy!
  • Dashes of freeze dried or fresh chopped basil, or oregano. 

Assembly: 

Make sure you have pre heated the oven to 350F. 

Get a huge baking dish and put a bit of the bolognese style meat sauce on the bottom. 

Layer on some noodles.

Then put the ricotta mixture on top.

Layer on some noodles. 

Then add the rest of the meat sauce. 

Layer on some noodles. 

Then top with bechamel and mozzarella and herbs of choice.

Baking:

Bake til golden brown on top. 

I think it was 30-40 mins ish. But check after 30 minutes and go from there, all ovens vary!

To Serve:

  • Drizzle balsamic glaze (optional)
  • Dash red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Parmesan cheese (optional) 
  • Side of Caesar salad or simple green salad with balsamic or red wine vinaigrette 
  • Red wine for the adults (not optional. I jest. No I don’t.)

 

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Onions, garlic, red pepper, carrots, oregano, anchovies, chopped olives, olive oil, cracked pepper etc..

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Adding in the chopped portobello.

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Italian sausage coming to the party.

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Ground beef and sausage have been cooked down with vegetables…

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Tomato paste and fire roasted tomatoes have cooked down and turned everything here into SAUCE.

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Tempered egg yolk getting added to the bechamel.

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Bechamel!

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Fresh spinach, fresh chopped basil, garlic, ricotta and asiago mixture.

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Layered with bechamel on top and tons of mozzarella and basil sprinkled on top.

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Wait at least 10 minutes before serving so you can serve slices instead of mounds 😉 Solidifies more as it cools.

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