Wednesday, November 17, 2010

#24 Italian Beef Lasagna

Nothing says Italy like its food and of course that means pasta....pasta......pasta and olive oil, tomatoes, onions, garlic and lean meats. Herbs like oregano, basil and parsley sometimes teamed with cheeses
and often times some cream.  In addition to pastas, Italians love their pizza, prosciutto, zuppas, seafood, caponata, pork, breads, good wine and fresh vegetables. The word lasagna is derived from the Greek word 'lasanon' which means 'chamber pot'.

I may have mentioned that my first born N avoided eating veggies, and I had to find ways to sneak them into most dishes, so she was not aware that she had a serving of veggies. The lasagna was the best source to hide all kinds of vegetables--- especially spinach.!! Although I do not cook as much Italian dishes as I used to these days, here is a lasagna that I prepared for the girls.

Ground Beef- 2 lbs
Crushed Tomatoes with basil-1- 28 oz can
Frozen chopped Spinach- 1-10oz package
Onions diced- 1
Garlic crushed well- 6 cloves
Lasagna Noodles- 1- 1 lb box
Ricotta Cheese- 1- 2 lb container
Parmesan Cheese grated-1/2 cup
Mozzarella Cheese grated- 1 cup
Oregano dried- 1 tspn
Flat Leaf Parsley chopped- 1 cup
If you would like to incorporate vegetables into the sauce or cheese you can use grated carrots, zuchini, broccoli or green pepper.
This time, I added some extra vegetables into the sauce. If you choose to leave this out that works too.
Grated butternut squash may be added as a middle layer if you do not eat meat.(Optional)
Grape Jelly- 2 Tblspn
Chicken Broth- 1-14 oz can
Salt and Pepper to taste.
1. Cook the Noodles according to the directions given on the box. Drain well and lay them out separately onto a baking pan lined with parchment paper.
2. In a large skillet, crumble and cook the beef over medium heat until it is no longer pink. Drain all the fat out. Add onions, garlic, chopped vegetables, green pepper
and oregano. Add the tomato sauce to this mixture along with the grape jelly dissolved in the chicken broth. Add salt, oregano and pepper. Bring this to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer
uncovered for almost an hour stirring occasionally until it is thick and reduced. Cool well.
3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the beaten eggs, parsley, ricotta and mozzarella cheeses. Squeeze out all the water from the chopped spinach and add to the mixture.
Add salt and pepper to this and combine well. A pinch of nutmeg may be added if you like the taste.

4. Take a baking pan, spread 1/2 cup of meat sauce into the greased pan. Layer with 3-4 Lasagna noodles just to cover the sauce. Top this with 1-2 cups of the cheese mixture and spread evenly using a large spoon or butter knife. Next, place a layer of noodles again and spoon over 1 cup of meat sauce. Add some Parmesan cheese and top with Noodles. Keep Layering in this way until
the Baking Pan is full and the topmost layer is Meat Sauce..
5. Heat Oven to 350 degrees and COver the Pan with ALuminum Foil. Bake for 50 minutes or upto 1 hour until the top layer is slightly brown. Sprinkle the rest of the Parmesan Cheese on top
and back uncovered for 15 minutes. Cool well outside the oven before serving.

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