lasagne and fresh foccacia bread

This meal was a team-effort from Trevor and I.  He makes amazing fresh pasta, so he helped me out.  We both love the way fresh pasta tastes in lasagne, it's tender and still able to hold up to all the fillings.  We invited some friends over for wine and dinner and by the time we were finished, we definitely all had that 'I'm so sleepy, carb-overload' feeling, but it was oh so good.  There was a lot of leftover lasagne, but the leftovers make great lunches, all you need to add is a bag of fresh veggies!

Prepare these first:

  • 8 sheets of fresh pasta (or whatever you need to fit your casserole dish)
  • 1-2 small zucchini, thinly sliced at an angle 
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 medium onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cans whole tomatoes cut into pieces, with juice
  • 1 cup cremini mushrooms, diced (did you know these are the same mushrooms as portobellos, just picked early?)
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning (I use a blend from Epicure)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped

In a large saucepan, scramble fry the ground beef with the onion.  Add in the garlic when the beef is almost cooked.  If there is a lot of fat you can drain it off before adding the tomatoes.  Add both cans of tomatoes, mushrooms, Italian seasoning and salt & pepper to taste.  Bring the mixture up to a simmer and cook for at least 15 minutes.  Add fresh basil, then adjust seasoning to your taste and remove from the heat.

500g container of ricotta

  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan
  • 2 cups packed fresh spinach, chopped
  • fresh pepper, to taste

Stir ricotta and egg together.  Add in parmesan, spinach and pepper.

Layer it up:

  • First, spread out a few ladles of meat sauce on the bottom of the casserole dish.   
  • First layer of noodles.
  • Put a layer of thinly sliced zucchini slices on top of the noodles, then put thick layer of meat sauce on top of that (a few cups).  Cover the meat sauce with about 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella.  
  • Put on the second layer of noodles. 
  • Spread all of the ricotta-spinach mixture on top of the noodles
  • Add the third layer of noodles.  
  • Put a few more cups of the meat sauce on top of the noodles.  Sprinkle about 1/2 cup of mozzarella on top.
  • Add the fourth (and last) layer of noodles. 
  • Spread another few ladles of meat sauce on top of the noodles.  Cover the top with about 1 cup mozzarella and about 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan.  

The lasagne can be prepared the day ahead and kept covered in the fridge, or baked right away.  Bake at 375F for about an hour.

 my messy kitchen and lasagne ready for the oven

Focaccia Bread

  • Here's the recipe from the label:
  • 1/4 cup Epicure Focaccia Bread Spices
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3/4 cup boiling water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 packets yeast
  • 4 cups flour
  • sprinkle of cornmeal
  • sprinkle of coarse sea salt

Mix together the spices, olive oil and hot water to allow the flavours to mix, and allow it cool to lukewarm, then stir in salt.  Dissolve sugar in one cup of warm water, then stir in yeast and allow to sit for five minutes, until it's foamy.  Stir the two liquid mixtures together in a large bowl, then add one cup of flour at a time, stirring to incorporate the flour.  Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, it will be a little on the sticky side, so try not to add too much extra flour when kneading.  Allow the dough to rest on the counter for 5 minutes while you brush olive oil on a cookie sheet.  Sprinkle the cookie sheet with cornmeal.  Push the dough into a rectangle and put it on the cookie sheet.  Allow the dough to rise for 40 minutes.  Brush the top of the dough with olive oil, then make big dimples all over the dough by pushing your fingers into it.  Sprinkle with some coarse sea salt.  Bake at 425F for 20-25 minutes or until golden.  It's delicious served fresh with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.