Ever since I quit my job, I've been on a mission to revisit all the things I love but haven't had time for these past 6-9 months. At the top of that list is cooking. Sure I would make dinner 1-2 times a week but invariably it was the recipes I knew by heart, the meals I could whip up in my sleep (I'm looking at you braised chicken, sauteed greens and roasted potatoes).
Last night I decided to make lasagna, a dish that once upon a time I used to do quite well but recent versions (as in, last winter) were somewhat lacking. I can't even remember the last time I made lasagna, except to say that it wasn't great and we didn't even eat all the leftovers. That very rarely happens with one of our favorite foods.
So last night I pulled out the puttanesca I'd made several weeks ago to defrost and made my way to the grocery store to pick up the fixings. Now, I'll say this, the way I make lasagna is not cheap. Thankfully, I make a ton of it so we can eat it for many meals. But if you're looking for recommendations on cooking on a budget (you know, being unemployed and all), this is not the meal to look to. The cheese & sausage alone cost a small fortune.
Knowing that the puttanesca wasn't going to be enough sauce for a fully loaded 9x13 meal, I whipped up even MORE sauce to go between all the layers of cheesy goodness.
Step 1 - Saute the onions
Step 2 - Add chopped garlic! (And yes, that is a full head of garlic)
Step 3 - Add fresh herbs (sorry, no photos)
Step 4 - Stir in 2 pounds of sausage (I went with hot and sweet Italian)
Step 5 - Add the sauce (in addition to the homemade puttanesca, I added in a jar of Barilla roasted garlic pasta sauce)
Step 6 - boil the noodles
I know a lot of people have started using the no-boil pasta sheets but I dunno. There's just something about them that I don't trust. They don't look like pasta. They look ... like impostors. If you've used 'em and have had good luck, let me know. Otherwise, I'm continuing to do this the hard way.
Step 7 - layer the noodles, sauce and cheese (shredded mozzarella and ricotta) over and over again. Top with sliced rounds of solid mozzarella. Because I was shopping at Safeway last night I didn't use any fancy cheeses. A friend on Facebook asked me what cheese I used - it's the Precious brand, whole milk hunk o'cheese. Nothing special, indeed, but it cooked up nice & golden last night.
Step 8 - bake at 400 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.
Step 9 - Remove from stove, ooh & aww over how pretty it looks
Oh, and if you're lucky enough to live in the Bay Area, while you're cooking I recommend popping open a bottle of Anchor Steam's annual Holiday ale. Sure, beer & pasta don't really go together, but I didn't feel like opening a bottle of wine just for me so this was a very fine replacement.