Sunday, January 08, 2006

Drop Dead Gorgeous...I mean delicious

This recipe is from Tyler Florence's Real Kitchen book. I made it awhile back, it's probably been two years, but I'll be making it, well helping someone make it, in two weeks.

Of course I don't remember too much about what I did the same or differently, so i'm just going to post this up now and come back later to fill in any notes I have on the recipe. I do remember that it was really good!

Also, before I go any further, anybody have a GREAT vegetarian lasagna recipe they can point me to. I'm helping the Joyous with this for a lasagna dinner party and we need a veggie recipe as well. I'd love to see if there is a red sauce one and white sauce one?!?!?


Drop-Dead Lasagna
from Tyler Florence's Real Kitchen

Time: 2 1/2 hours
Serves 12

This is the old-school lasagna that you find in the Italian restaurants in Brooklyn. Fuggedaboudit! You can assemble the lasagna ahead of time...and it's great for leftovers.

1 lb lasagna noodles
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Onion, diced
3 Garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 lb ground pork
1 TB fennel seeds
1/2 TB red pepper flakes
1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 TB dried oregano
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
2 lb ricotta cheese
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 lbs shredded mozzarella cheese
4 cups Marinara Sauce (further down)
Additional Parmigiano-Reggiano for serving

Fill a large pasta pot with water and place over high heat. Add a generous amount of salt and bring to a boil. Cook the lasagna noodles for only 8 minutes; they should still be somewhat firm, as they will continue to cook when you bake the lasagna. Drain the noodles in a colander and rinse them quickly under cool water to stop the cooking process. Drizzle some olive oil so the sheets don't stick together, the set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and drizzle with {about 2 TB} of olive oil. Saute the onion, garlic and bay leaf for a couple of minutes, until the onions are translucent and smell sweet. Add the ground beef and pork, stirring to break it up, and cook until the meat is throroughly browned, about 10 minutes. Drain ou the excess fat. Combine the fennel seeds, red pepper flakes, brown sugar and dried oregano in a spice mill or a coffee grinder, give it a whirl, and sprinkle on the browned meat. Stir in the tomato paste until well blended; season with salt & pepper. Take the pan off the heat.

In a large bowl, combine the ricotta and Parmigiano cheeses. Fold in the parsley, basil and eggs, season with salt and pepper, and mix well.

Preheat the oven to 350. Take inventory of the components you should have now: slightly cooked lasagna noodles, seasoned meat mixture, ricotta cheese filling, 2 pounds of mozzarella cheese, a pot of sauce and a 13 x 9 inch glass or ceramic baking dish. Let the layering begin.

Start by ladling enough sauce into the dish to cover the bottom; in my experience this prevents the lasagna from sticking. Layer 1 -- the noodles: slightly overlap 4 lasagna noodles lenghtwise so they completely cover the bottom with no gaps. Here is a little tip I swear by: if you take 2 lasagna noodles and line the short ends of the pan, they will act as brackets or a wall to give the lasagna support when you cut it. Layer 2 -- the meat: spread half the meat mixture on top of the noodles with a spatula. The emat mixture, being the most solid element, will act as a foundation. Layer 3 -- the cheese: spread half the ricotta cheese mixture over the meat, smooth out with a spatula, and then sprinkly a fhrist of the shredded mozzarella evenly over the ricotta mixture for that stringy cheese pull that you know and love. Layer 4 -- the sauce: top with a full ladle of tomato sauce, about 1 cup; smooth it out with a spatula. Repeat layers 1 through 4. Finish with a final layer of noodles, tomato sauce and the remaining mozarella. I like to tap the pan lightly on the counter to force out any air bubbles and to compress the layers.

Bake for 1 1/2 hours, until golden and bubbling. Allow the lasagna to sit for 20 minutes so it doesn't ooze all over the place when you cut it into squares. Pass the extra tomato sauce and grated Parmigiano around the table.

Marinara Sauce
from Tyler Florence's Real Kitchen

Makes 5 cups
Time: 1 hour

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 (28 oz) cans of whole tomatoes
5 fresh basil leaves, cut in fine ribbons
2 TB chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 bay leaves
pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp of sugar

In a large pot over medium heat, heat {about 3 TB} of olive oil until hot. Add the onion and garlic and saute for 5 minutes, or until the onions begin to appear translucent. Hand-crush the tomatoes and add them, along with their liquid, to the pot. Toss in the herbs, red pepper flakes and sugar; season with salt & pepper. Lower the heat and simmer for 45 minutes, uncovered. Stir occasionally. Remove bay leaves before serving.



Mandy said...

Since I was vegetarian for 15 years, I'm happy to help out! For a to DIE for white-sauce veggie lasagna recipe, I would recommend the artichoke and mushroom lasagne recipe from (, but definitely double the bechamel sauce, as several reviewers recommended. (You'll have some left over, but too much is better than too little...)

For my red sauce lasagne, it's tricky because I don't measure things, but here goes:

3 14 oz cans stewed tomatoes, diced
1 14 oz can tomato paste
1/2 c. onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
basil, oregano, sage, rosemary, thyme (preferrably fresh) to taste
salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 tbsp. olive oil

(you can also add other veggies to the sauce - diced green peppers, diced olives [even if you don't like olives, they're a nice addition], sliced mushrooms [saute them in vermouth for a really nice flavor], but this is the bare bones of a marinara sauce for me)

1 1/2 pints ricotta cheese
1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 whole egg
3/4 cup mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup Parmigiana Reggiano
basil, oregano to taste (again - preferrably fresh)
1 tsp salt

1 package lasagne noodles
5 cups shredded mozzarella
1 cup Parmigiana Reggiano

For the sauce:
Saute the garlic and onion in the olive oil. If you're going to add other veggies to the sauce, add them now. If you'd prefer to add them to the filling instead, saute them separately and set them aside. Saute the veggies until they're soft, and the onions are translucent. Dump in the cans of stewed tomatoes, juice and all, and let them heat through. Add the tomato paste and stir until thoroughly blended. Add the herbs and spices to taste.

For the filling:
Mix the spinach, ricotta and mozarella thoroughly (and other veggies, if you're putting them in the filling), then add the egg - mix until all are evenly incorporated (I find that it's easiest to use my hands...) Add the basil and oregano, and just enough salt so that the filling isn't sweet, you want it to be savory.

To assemble:
Spread a thin layer of sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 pan, then place a layer of uncooked noodles over the layer of sauce. Top with a layer of the filling, then a layer of sauce (doesn't have to be super thick). Add another layer of noodles, and continue layering, finishing with a layer of red sauce. Spread the mozzarella and Parm evenly over the top, cover loosely with foil (make sure the cheese doesn't stick), and bake at 425 for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes so that the cheese can brown a little bit.

I promise, the noodles will cook up just fine with the sauce, and won't be too mushy, which I find can happen if you pre-cook them.

For some nice garlic bread to go with it - soften a stick of butter, then mix in about 1/2 c. Parm and 1 tbsp garlic. Spread the mixture in between slices on a cut loaf of Italian or French bread, and top the loaf with any leftover butter mixture. Wrap loosely in foil, and put it in the oven with the lasagne for about 15 minutes or so.

Hope this helps!

Mandy said...

Okay - the Epicurious link didn't display properly, so here's the recipe (again - double the bechamel. Yeah, that's a lot of butter. But it's darn tasty.):


2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
1 pound mushrooms, sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 8-ounce packages frozen artichoke hearts, thawed, coarsely chopped
1 cup dry vermouth

Béchamel sauce
4 1/2 tablespoons butter
4 1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour
4 1/2 cups whole milk
2 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 7 1/2 ounces)
Ground nutmeg

1 9-ounce package oven-ready (no-boil) lasagna noodles
1 pound whole-milk mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced

For filling:
Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and garlic; sauté until mushrooms release juices and begin to brown, about 7 minutes. Add artichokes and vermouth. Cook until liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

For béchamel sauce:
Melt butter in heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add flour; stir 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until sauce thickens and lightly coats spoon, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Stir in 1 1/2 cups Parmesan. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and ground nutmeg.

Spread 2/3 cup béchamel sauce over bottom of 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Top with enough noodles to cover bottom of dish. Spread 1/4 of artichoke mixture over. Spoon 2/3 cup béchamel sauce over. Top béchamel with 1/4 of mozzarella.

Sprinkle with 3 tablespoons Parmesan. Top with enough noodles to cover. Repeat layering 3 more times, finishing with a layer of noodles, then remaining béchamel. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover with foil and refrigerate.)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake lasagna covered with foil 1 hour (or 1 hour 15 minutes if chilled). Remove foil. Increase temperature to 450°F. Bake lasagna until golden on top, about 10 minutes longer.

ScottE. said...

THANKS for the recipes! We'll look them over to decide which one to go with.

Keep the ideas coming!!!

Jon said...

From my sister -- a long-time vegetarian until the call of good sausage drew her back to the winning team... pretty standard issue recipe, but a good one:

--12 lasagna noodles
--3 cups broccoli
--diced tomatoes
--2 medium bell peppers
--1 container (15 oz) ricotta cheese
--½ cup grated parm cheese (the good stuff, please)
--16 oz jar alfredo sauce
--1 pound shredded mozzarella
--1 egg

Cook and drain noodles.

Combine ricotta cheese, parm cheese and egg.

Spread 2/3 cup of alfredo sauce on bottom of 13 x 9 pan.

Place 4 lasagna noodles on top.

Spread half of ricotta mixture on top of noodles.

Pour 1/3 of vegetables on.

Pour 2/3 cup of alfredo sauce over vegetables.

Spread 1 cup mozzarella over alfredo.

Repeat until all ingredients are used and the pan is overflowing ... very difficult to fit it all in.

I'd suggest using a couple dried herbs, or perhaps some red pepper flakes to liven this up a bit. I don't think you can ever go wrong with the old standby of McCormick's "Italian Seasoning," especially in a lasagna.

DC Food Blog said...

Tyler Florence isn't my type (I'm more of a Mario Batali chaser), but don't you get worried about his totally red complexion? I keep thinking skin cancer at 40. But then again, I worry about Mario as well. All that Italian sun could turn him to leather. Oooh dirty.

ScottE. said...

Tyler is a total beet...he turns totally red when he gets excited or goofs. He's sort of hot in the frat boy way. Some days he's hot, some days not.

Stef said...

I love me some Tyler. I don't care if he's red or not, he's totally that goofy inner-nerd, outer-frat-boy type that gets me. I think he looks super-hot in those new Food Network commercials where they all say one part of a sentence to the camera. His hair's a little longer and he's wearing a sweater with a button down shirt under. Mmmmm.

But I think I am starting to develop a crush on Dave Lieberman, too......

ScottE. said...

Dave Lieberman is a cute little fruit it! But I've not seen enough of his shows to pass any judgement on him...he seems very charismatic, but at the same time a little nervous in front of the camera. But not as bad as the two dudes on the new show...Party Line with Dan and of them shakes like crazy and I'm worried he's going to slice his finger off.

Hyattsvilletroublemaker said...

Hey All -
Over the weekend I had to do some last minute cooking for a large group (it's the age old story of a spouse telling you at the last minute that 11 buddies could be dropping by for the game) so I did not have time to look up a Gorgeous lasagna recipe. So, Giant's ready to bake noodle box gave me my recipe. I added a few of my own elements (like homemade sauce straight outta da blender, soy flakes and lots of veggies for a veggie like me) and it received rave reviews. Little did they know that all of the cheese was fat free.
Anyway...when you don't have a whole lotta time/energy/desire, the recipe delivered -- and I had lunch Sunday and Monday!
PS -- Scott, love this site!!

ScottE. said...

Hey all,

Welcome Kendra!

Made the lasagnas on Thursday night with Joyous! FOUR HOURS! Whew. For just two and that didn't involve baking. It was preping and assembling. Also made the tiramisu and had dinner in there, but damn!

Some differences with this recipe and what we did. I used my "Sauce" recipe from back around New Year's Eve...scroll back, you'll find it. Made it virtually exactly the same and it was great and just enough sauce for two full lasagnas. We then split that in two, one for regular and one for veggie. To the veggie, we added some extra sauteed onions, green bell peppers and carrots. Yum! And for the ricotta mixture, we added the frozen (thawed/drained) spinach to half of it for the veggies. It was really good. I certainly wouldn't call it health food, but there was no meat!

Between the two lasagnas, we had 7 pounds of cheese!!!!! And they were really good! I can only imagine how much better they were the next day!

ScottE. said...

Made the lasagna again over the weekend. Great. Wonderful. I've been using the "no-boil" lasagna sheets. They work great. Just let the sauce stay a little thinner, less thick and saucy. Make sure the cover each sheet of pasta, or you'll end up with a crispy shard of dried pasta.

Jeff Smith said...

nice post love reading it

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