Last night Paula and I entertained some friends. I had been wanting to try out a lasagna recipe that I had read about in the September/October issue of Cooks Illustrated. I was curious to see how it would turn out since it was made with some different cheeses (Cottage cheese, Fontina and Pecorino Romano). It turned out to be absolutely delicious! I think that I will use this recipe in the future and it might actually make me want to make lasagna more often.
In order to make the final product, I had to prepare all the parts of the lasagna.
First, I made the cheese sauce. I whisked all of the following ingredients in a bowl until they formed a smooth mixture. Then I set them aside in the refrigerator until everything else was ready. The ingredients were:
- 4 ounces (2 cups) of grated Pecorino Romano
- 8 ounces (1 cup) of cottage cheese
- 1/2 cup of heavy cream
- 2 minced garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon of corn starch
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
- 1/4 teaspoon of pepper
Second, I made the tomato sauce. The sauce required these ingredients:
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 finely chopped onion
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 4 minced garlic cloves
- 8 anchovy fillets (that are patted dry and minced)
- 1 (28 ounce can) of crushed tomatoes
- 1 (14.5 ounce can) of diced tomatoes
- 1 ounce (1/2 cup) of grated Pecorino Romano
- 1/2 cup of tomato paste
I started the sauce by heating the olive oil in a large saucepan. When it was hot, I added the onions, sugar, pepper flakes, oregano and salt. I cooked these ingredients for about 10 minutes until the onions were softened. Then I added the garlic and anchovies and cooked them with the other ingredients for another 2 minutes. Next, I added the crushed and diced tomatoes along with the Pecorino Romano and tomato paste. After it started to boil, I reduced the heat to simmer and cooked the sauce for 20 minutes.
While the sauce was cooking, I prepared the lasagna noodles. I used one box of regular noodles. I place the noodles in a 9 x 13 baking dish. I covered the noodles with boiling water. While the noodles sat in the water, I used a fork (or paring knife also works), to separate the noodles so that they wouldn’t stick. It is important to do this as soon as the boiling water is added. Once they have sat in the water for a few minutes, you just need to gently move them around every 2 minutes or so. Let them sit in the water for about 15-20 minutes. The noodles should be pliable. Once they are, then you should rinse them in cold water and lay them on a dish towel to dry off slightly.
Now it is finally time to make the lasagna! Before you actually do, you will also need to shred 8 ounces (2 cups) of fontina cheese. While you do that, turn on the oven to 375 degrees. Prepare the lasagna in this manner:
- Spread 1 1/2 cups of tomato sauce on the bottom of the dry 9 x 13 baking dish.
- Lay 3 noodles lengthwise on top of the noodles with ends touching one short side. Then lay 1/2 of a noodle crosswise on the other short side.
- Spread 1/2 of the cheese mixture over the noodles.
- Add 1/2 cup of shredded fontina.
- Repeat layering the noodles, alternating which side of the baking dish gets the half noodle piece.
- Spread another 1 1/2 cups of tomato sauce over this second layer of noodles.
- Add another 1/2 cup of shredded fontina.
- Create a third layer of noodles, again alternating the side of the baking dish that gets the half noodle piece.
- Add the remaining cheese sauce.
- Add another 1/2 cup of shredded fontina
- Add a fourth layer of noodles, once again alternating the noodles as before.
- Spread the rest of the tomato sauce of the noodles.
- Toss the final 1/2 cup of fontina with a 1/4 teaspoon of corn starchj and spread over the sauce.
- Sprinkle another 1/4 cup of Pecorino Romano over the sauce.
- Cover with a piece of aluminum foil that has been sprayed with cooking spray.
- Bake for 35 minutes
- Remove the lasagna from the oven and raise the temperature to 500 degrees.
- Remove the foil and place lasagna back in the oven to bake for about 10 minutes or until the top starts to brown.
- Let it sit for about 15 minutes so that the lasagna holds together when it is served.
This recipe requires some effort but it is definitely worth it! All of our friends enjoyed it so much that everyone went back for seconds. We enjoyed it with a simple salad. After dinner, everyone enjoyed some homemade chocolate candy that Paula had made as well as a homemade pie that one of our friends had brought. All in all, it was a most enjoyable evening!