Friday, January 16, 2015

New Year's Lasagna

For some odd reason, Robin decided that we needed food to go along with our Drunk Prussian Champagne Punch this New Year's Eve. Despite my protestations that the sherbert in the punch constituted food, Robin continued to demand fanciness from our soiree. She sent along a lasagna recipe she had been eyeing, and I got to prepping while waiting for her to come home and give me excuse to start drinking champagne without feeling shame.

Would this lengthy recipe be the first true test of our living together, or would we ring in the New Year with happy, full bellies?

Four Cheese Sausage and Spinach Lasagna
Adapted From Host the Toast
Servings: 8-12
Time: 3 hours

1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb sweet Italian sausage, casing removed
8 oz diced prosciutto
1 medium onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 28 oz cans whole Roma tomatoes with juices
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp red chili flakes

32 oz Ricotta cheese
2 egg yolks
1 cup basi leaves, chopped
1 pinch nutmeg
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

The Rest
1 box lasagna noodles 
10 oz fresh spinach
1 lb mozzarella cheese, sliced
8 oz provolone cheese, sliced
Parmesan cheese
Fresh Basil
  1. Make the sauce. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large pot. Sauté the sausage, prosciutto, and onion together until the sausage is browned and the onion is translucent (~ 10 minutes).
  2. Forget to take any pictures while trying to get everything made before your guests arrive.
  3. Stir in the garlic and tomato paste and cook for an additional minute.
  4. Add in the canned tomatoes, sugar, oregano, basil, salt, pepper, and chili flakes. Let simmer on low for at least 30 minutes or until the rest is ready. Use the back of a wooden spoon to break apart and squish the tomatoes as they soften.
  5. Prepare the ricotta mix by whisking the Ricotta, egg yolks, basil, nutmeg, parmesan, salt, and pepper together in a bowl. Set aside.
  6. Preheat the oven to 375 F.
  7. Layer the noodles in a 9"x13" baking dish with one noodle placed diagonally between each layer. Cover with warm, near boiling water and let sit for 20 minutes, so the noodles are tender but not fully cooked. Drain the noodles and pat dry.
  8. Spray the baking dish with non-stick spray, and cover the bottom layer with sauce.
  9. Make a layer of noodles with each slightly overlapping to cover the bottom fully. Top with 1/2 of the ricotta, provolone, mozzarella, and half the spinach. Repeat for a second layer. Then make the top layer with noodles, sauce (if there's room to not overflow, which we did not have), mozzarella, provolone, and parmesan. 
  10. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, add fresh basil, and cook for another 30 minutes. It is useful to have a rimmed baking sheet under the pan to catch overflow.
  11. Let cool and serve.
  12. Enjoy days upon days of the greatest lasagna known to man.
Having this many ingredients inside a lasagna means it is pretty much impossible to get a good looking picture of it. 
Aside from actually making the noodles yourself, this may have been the most time consuming lasagna I can think of (much worse than my first post of Tofu Kale Lasagna or a Zoodle version), but it was so worth it. It made the entire Stouffer family quake in their shoes. Each bite somehow found a way to present even more melty glorious cheese than the last, while the Italian sausage and spinach brought explosive flavor. The odd noodle soaking step is a must in lasagnas, as the resulting noodles were the most perfect I had ever consumed and absorbed the sauce beautifully while cooking. Despite having oodles of leftovers to ring in our new year, we never got tired of this amazing feast, and we may have shed a tear when the baking dish was finally empty.

We enforced a very strict dress code for our party. I wore only my finest pajama pants.
Stay tuned for the rest of our New Year's celebration featuring the pure unfiltered insanity of a Drunk Prussian fueled shortcake decorating contest.

Would my shortcake take the gold, or would I spend my night sobbing to Ryan Seacrest?

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