Using your noodle

My friend, Paula, and I love to cook up a storm. And Storm with be the appropriate word because it's always a little organized chaos. We don't like to follow recipes, we like to multitask as much as possible to get the impossible done in minimal time, and, let's face it, the kitchen looks like a natural disaster has struck.

The end result, however, is rarely a disaster. Our Chinese-Italian culinary training has always pulled through to give us delicious results every time.

Last weekend, we decided to make lasagna. From scratch. We started at around 1pm, and by 7pm, we were sitting down to a delicious freshly made lasagna dinner with lots of extra lasagnas for our freezer. Lasagna freezes so well; some would argue that it tastes even better the 2nd time around.

From Food

We started with the dough. We used Paula's mom's recipe. Which, of course, is not a recipe. "Just add enough until it feels right" is probably what she would say. (See below for a list of suggested recipes.)

Kneading the dough was quite the workout. Paula was a prostar; I was a prostar after we made 6 balls of dough.

Apparently the "resting" step for pasta dough is essential. Do not skip this step!

The sheets of pasta were soft and silky by the time we cranked it through 3 or 4 times to our desired thickness. You can always opt to buy fresh lasagna sheets. Or even use the dried kind. After I lived with Paula for 2 years, this "made from scratch" kind holds a special place in my heart.

The tomato sauce we made is a lot like Jamie Oliver's recipe from his "Jamie at Home" cookbook (thanks Rebecca!) When Paula makes it, we call it "lip gloss sauce" cuz there's so much delicious olive oil that it leaves you with a nice coating of lip gloss. Delicious.

Each ball of dough got us about 2 big lasagnas or 5 small lasagnas; after 4 balls of dough, we ran out of cheese, sauce and heart. We turned the remaining two balls of dough into spaghetti, which we froze for a rainy day.

Assembly was definitely organized chaos. Since we didn't have room in my kitchen to lay out more than one dough's worth of noodles, we had to go back and forth between boiling the noodles (my job), assembling the layers of lasagna (Paula's job), and then hand cranking more dough (whoever was done their job first.)

I really love how simple this lasagna is. Noodles, tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese (we used the kind you buy in a ball, no more than 15% MF). I'm sure you can add whatever meat, veggies, other cheeses you like, but the simplicity of this lasagna really lets the pasta shine. Bottom layer is sauce, then: noodle, sauce, cheese; noodle sauce cheese; noodle sauce cheese... etc. The sauce and cheese is added sparingly since there are so many layers. You can always adjust to you liking.

Bake at 375 degrees F until the top is golden and sauce is bubbly (about 45 mins).

Making lasagna from scratch will always take a few hours. It's quite time consuming. Paula and I decided that if we were going to dedicate our Saturday afternoon to making a fresh lasagna, we might as well make lots. "Lots" turned into 13 lasagnas: 10 small and 3 large. One large for dinner, and the rest for our freezer! We cooked them through and popped them in our freezer after they cooled. Now, if we have a craving for delicious lasagna, we can pop one in our oven and bake until warmed through! So simple! That's called using your noodle!

If you'd like to try making lasagna from scratch, I recommend the following recipes:

Krystle C.  – (February 14, 2011 at 12:55 PM)  

Yum! That looks delish! I made some spinach linguine for Christmas but didn't have the counter space on which to dry my cranked-out noodles, so I ended up just turning them out directly into a bowl and they got crinkly and weird-looking. But it's such a fun process!

Paula  – (February 14, 2011 at 5:09 PM)  

I am laughing so hard right now. You've captured the day exactly!!!

My Mom would be sooo proud!

...and I can't wait for our next culinary adventure!!
(massive dumpling production?)

Anonymous –   – (February 15, 2011 at 12:33 AM)  

YUM!!! I'm SUPER JEALOUS! can we please have a lasagna making party next time I'm back? we can use my kitchen!
miss you guys!

Tony P –   – (February 16, 2011 at 2:06 PM)  

I usually follow the Done well blog in silence. However, this particular blog struck a chord in me. It is true what they say, "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach!" It is refreshing to see two modern women executing Old World pasta making techniques and doing it in style. I honestly had an Anton Ego moment while reading the blog. Well done ladies!

Elisabeth  – (February 19, 2011 at 5:02 PM)  

Oh. I am soooo telling on you. Mom told me very clearly when I took notes (and pictures) that I was not to post any of her recipes on "that internet".
You are in very BIG trouble.
What next, her gnocchi recipe??
By the way, you captured her non-recipe perfectly!
-- Paula's older sister and master-recipe-holder

Heather  – (March 19, 2011 at 7:37 AM)  

I miss you guys so much!!!!!

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