A Tale of Two Lasagnas

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December 28, 2012 by caitlinvaclark

Chris’ family arrived on Wednesday and it’s been wonderful to have a gaggle of familiar faces here in London. Although everyone was a bit groggy from their overnight flights, we took them for early evening ice skating. I think fresh air is the perfect cure for jet-lag. Somerset House is a huge old building on The Strand, built by a Duke who was granted a fancy palace by King Henry VIII, that has a gorgeous outdoor ice rink in the courtyard set up for Christmas.

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After skating, I had familiar but very hungry looking faces surrounding me. One of Chris’ sisters casually mentioned that they hadn’t eaten since breakfast on the plane. Yikes!? Pressure was on. But lucky me, I planned in advance. A week ago, I made two different, freezable lasagnas. Then I just took them out in the morning, popped them in the oven when we got back, threw together a salad and some garlic bread, and presto! Dinner for 12!!

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I made a classic meat lasagna with a creamy spinach mascarpone center. Then I put together a white lasagna with layers of hearty winter vegetables: kale, butternut squash, and mushrooms. A great dinner for meat lovers and vegetarians.

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Of course seating for 12 was another story…

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The best part is that since all the cooking is done well in advance, the day of, there is no clean up. Well, aside from the 12 plates, 12 sets of silverware, 12 wine glasses, etc. But for someone with no dishwasher, this is better than all that plus bulky pots and pans.

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Classic Lasagna

Serves 6

½ tbs olive oil

1 lb mild Italian sausages

1 ¼ lbs lean ground beef

1 medium onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

½ tsp red pepper flake

1 ½ tsp dried oregano

1 ½ tsp dried basil

1 tbs tomato paste

½ cup red wine

3 (16 oz.) cans chopped or pureed tomatoes

Parmesan rind (optional)

2 cups mascarpone cheese

16 oz. frozen spinach, thawed and drained

1 cup grated parmesan, divided

12 sheets fresh lasagna

9 oz. shredded mozzarella

Salt and Pepper to taste

In a very large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Remove the sausage from its casing and put into the skillet. Using a wooden spoon, begin to crumble and break apart the sausage.  Add the ground beef. Cook together for 3 minutes, crumbling as the meat browns.

Add the onions and garlic. Sauté for 5 minutes.

Stir in the red pepper flakes, oregano, basil, salt, pepper, and tomato paste.

Add the red wine and simmer for 2 minutes.

Mix in the canned tomatoes and parmesan rind. Bring to a low simmer and cook for 20 minutes.

While the sauce cooks, mix together the spinach, mascarpone, and ½ cup of grated parmesan. Season with salt and pepper.

Begin to layer the lasagna by first spreading a cup of red sauce into a lasagna pan (8”x13”). Top with 4 lasagna sheets, then red sauce, 4 lasagna sheets, all the spinach, the remaining lasagna sheets, red sauce then mozzarella and remaining parmesan cheese.

Freeze for up to two weeks OR bake in a 350˚F oven. If cooking from fresh, cook for about 40 minutes. From frozen, let thaw for at least 3 hours, then bake for 70 minutes.

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Butternut Squash, Kale, and Mushroom Lasagna

Serves 6 

¾ lb butternut squash, small diced

1 tsp poultry seasoning

2 tbs olive oil, divided

10 oz. mushrooms, sliced

3 shallots, sliced

8 oz. chopped kale

¼ cup white wine

4 tbs butter

4 tbs flour

2 ½ cups milk

1 ½ cups heavy cream

1/8 tsp nutmeg

12 sheets fresh lasagna

9 oz. shredded mozzarella

1/3 cup grated parmesan

Salt and Pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 375˚F.

Toss the butternut squash with poultry seasoning, salt, pepper, and ½ tbs olive oil. Spread onto a cookie sheet and roast for 20 minutes.

While the squash roasts, sauté the mushrooms and shallots in 1 tbs olive oil for 5 minutes, over medium high heat.

Once the mushrooms are done, remove from pan and reserve.

Add ½ tbs olive oil to the same skillet. Sauté the kale for 5 minutes. Add the white wine and cook for 3 more minutes. Reserve the kale.

Make the béchamel sauce by melting 4 tbs of butter in a saucepot. Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes. Rapidly whisk in the cream and milk. Cook over medium low heat for 8 minutes, until the sauce thickens, stirring frequently. Season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper.

Layer the lasagna into a 8”x13” pan. Begin by spreading a thin layer of béchamel on the bottom of the pan (about ½ cup). Top with 4 lasagna sheets, another ½ cup of béchamel, and the butternut squash. Next 4 more lasagna sheets, 1 cup of béchamel, and the mushrooms. Top with 4 lasagna sheets, 1 cup béchamel, and the kale. Finish the lasagna with the remaining sheets, béchamel, and cheese.

Freeze for up to two weeks OR bake in a 350˚F oven. If cooking from fresh, cook for about 40 minutes. From frozen, let thaw for at least 3 hours, then bake for 70 minutes.

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One thought on “A Tale of Two Lasagnas

  1. sofiamaria23 says:

    regular sally homemaker! I need a cooking class from you! 🙂

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