HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!!!!
I Hope 2014 brings all the joy in the world to each and every one of you!
The recipes I’m sharing today are very dear to my heart! Lasagna was one of the very first non-African dishes I learned to make and it brings so many memories! My aunt actually taught me how to make it and I’m forever grateful because I LOVE lasagna and I love Italian food! In fact, my husband is usually not surprised when I make pasta but has fun learning all the different types of noodles: Rigatoni, Lasagna, Rotini, Penne, Ziti, etc.
Lasagna is one of those dished that you must have a lot of people over or be ready to eat everyday for an entire week because, each batch always makes a lot depending on your noodle size and the pan being used to bake it. Whenever, I don’t feel like making my own sauce, I ALWAYS go for Emeril’s Home Style Marinara! That thing is amazing! It’s closest in flavor to my homemade sauce. I’m not crazy about the sauces full of wine and all that other extra stuff, when it comes to Marinara sauce, the simpler, the better!
With every delicious and decadent lasagna, you MUST have equally amazing Garlic Bread! It’s one thing to take some french bread or a baguette, toast it and season with butter and all that and it’s a completely different thing to bake a soft, pillowy, yeast bread seasoned to perfection! I’ll clue you in to my favorite garlic bread recipe as well. Buckle up! It’s gonna be an utterly delicious ride!
For the Lasagna:
For 9 servings:
1/2 bottle Marinara sauce
1/3 cup Ricotta
1/2 package Ground Beef (You can also mix in some sausage, etc)
Oven Ready lasagna
1 cup + 1/4 cup Mozzarella (Not Pictured)
1/4 cup Parmesan (Not Pictured)
Italian Seasonings (Rosemary, Parsley, etc)
Brown the beef , season with garlic salt and Italian seasonings. Drain.
Reduce heat to low and add in sauce (I sometimes use half pasta sauce, half marinara for more flavor). Season to taste. This is where ALL of the flavor is coming from, so make sure it is properly seasoned. If it’s too strong, by the time it’s cooked with the pasta and cheeses, it’ll be more mellowed out.
Get a pyrex bowl that will be big enough to fit the lenght of lasagna you have. Since the pasta is oven ready, you don’t have to cook it first. If you buy Lasagna that isn’t oven ready, be sure to cook it according to the directions on the package.
Pour some sauce into the bottom of the bowl, not a lot, just enough to cover the bottom of the bowl.
Then add the lasagna, let the noodles, overlap a little bit.
Then pour a little bit of meat sauce and spread to cover the noodles.
Then cheese that bad boy! Pour dollops of ricotta all over and sprinkle mozzarella over that.
Then spread some meat sauce over that. The reason for all the sauce is to ensure the noodles are sufficiently softened while cooking.
Top with an alternating layer of noodles. And repeat the steps above.
On the final layer of noodles, pour plain sauce (Your meat sauce should be all gone by now.) Spread it to cover the noodles and cover the sauce with cheese.
Coat a piece of foil with non stick spray or olive oil and loosely cover. Place in an 385 degree oven for 35 minutes or until the cheese on top is fully melted. Take off the foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes, and VOILA!
I know you want to jump right in but you must be patient! Let it cool for about 15 minutes before cutting into it. It will stay in place by then and it won’t completely destroy all sensation in your mouth!
For the Garlic Knots:
1 packet of instant yeast
1 cup + 1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 Tbsp Olive oil
1/4 Tbsp Sugar
1/4 Tbsp Sea Salt
1/2 cup warm water
Combine everything except the flour and mix to let the yeast dissolve. Then sift in the flour and mix. Cover with a towl and let rise in a warm, dry place until doubled in size (Approximately an hour).
Oil a work surface and rolling pin and roll out the dough. Then cut with a pizza cutter.
Sprinkle some flour over the top of the strips of dough and roll into a log. If it’s too long, cut the log in half. Then tie into a knot (Over, under, and through the hole. Don’t pull. If the hole is still huge, just lay the knot down on your silpat or your parchment lined baking sheet).
Make sure the knots are spaced apart by at least 2 inches because, once all the dough is in knots, you have to cover them with the towel and let rise until doubled (Approximately40 minutes).
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees and bake until golden brown for about 14-15 minutes.
For the garlic coating:
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
Melt the butter and season with garlic salt. Mix in Parsley (Chopped or flakes).
Brush over the baked bread. Enjoy!