Chris-O says miller, la la la, he makes spicy lasagna, la la la, i need the damn recipe, la la la, i have no more words.
- January 28, 2002
This is my signature lasagne recipe. Well, by now it is, anyway. And, incidentally, it makes use of a modified version of my signature pasta sauce. I've been bugged by a couple of different noders (namely, Chris-O and moxie) to node this recipe as it has, on numerous occasions, appeared at nodermeets where I've made a culinary contribution of some sort. At the least, it's been present whenever I've had noders come over for dinner or parties, typically served with a special kind of bruschetta I make. drunkenmonkey says it should probably be referred to as the official E2 lasagne.
I don't know if I'd go that far, but I'd definitely think it was safe to say it could at least be the official BAP lasagne.
Now, you'd think that since I make it so goddamned much I'd know what the proportions are. Honestly, I don't. And I doubt I ever will. Each time this recipe is prepared, it's slightly different. The proportions only exist in my head and in my tastebuds. I'll always have an idea of what seems right to me. To that end, it's very important to taste the sauce as it goes along, to have an idea of where it's going flavor-wise, and to not be stingy with the herbs and spices (it's called the Lasagne of Fiery Doom for a reason, after all). You'll soon find out what tastes right for you.
A couple notes about the sauce:
- I've found it helps that the final product of the sauce-making be thick and, for lack of a better word, dry. Not watery and runny like those light pasta sauces you often get in jars. My reasoning is, the less water is in it, the less likely it is to boil. Should the lasagne boil just from the wateriness of the sauce, it steers the spinach and cheese and even the pasta itself towards a goopy kind of mush. And that's not at all good. A firm lasagne, in my book, is a good lasagne.
- You'll note that in the ingredients list, the herbs and spices have no indication of what amount should be used. There is a reason. Read the section describing how seasoning of the sauce is to be done and don't be afraid to be daring. Now, the whole spicy > sweet > herby thing is, admittedly, more science than art. But it makes sense. It is only the careful balancing of the flavors at war with each other do you arrive at something that will appeal to the tastebuds. If you have the time, go ahead and make the sauce a day or two in advance. Put it in some air-tight container and refrigerate it until the day you're actually putting the lasagne together. You'll be amazed at how flavorful the sauce can get if given the opportunity to marinate.
Please note that this is a spinach lasagne with possibly five cheeses (ricotta, mozzarella, monterey jack, parmesan and romano) and, as such, is vegetarian-friendly but not at all friendly to those of the lactose intolerant persuasion.
what you'll need:
what to do
pasta and layer fills
- In a large pot, boil some water. When it is rapidly boiling, add the pasta in, one long, rigid noodle at a time and placing them as far apart as possible. Plopping them in all at once will more than likely cause them to stick together when they're done. Toss in a dash of garlic salt to flavor the pasta just a little bit and a tablespoon of olive oil to further prevent stickage later. When the water returns to a boil, cover and reduce the heat to low. When done, drain and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine ricotta cheese, a cup of the parmesan/romano blend, and the egg. Mix until smooth and then set aside.
- In another large bowl, destem and shred the spinach by hand (because by hand is the best way). This too should be set aside when completed.
- In a saucepan, add enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan. When the oil has warmed, throw in the garlic and allow to saute until golden and fragrant. Toss in the diced onions and saute until transparent.
- Mix in tomato sauce and tomato paste. If the combined amount doesn't quite look like it's enough, pour some water in one of the empty 6-oz cans (cleaning up whatever tomato paste is leftover in the can) and add that to the sauce. Be careful, however, as the sauce needs to be more dry and thick than watery. Stir until the sauce has a smooth and even texture.
- Since the tomatoes that were added came from cans, the tinny taste that comes from being canned will need to be negated.
- That's where the spicy ingredients (garlic powder, ground black pepper, hot sauce, cayenne pepper, and dried red pepper flakes) come in. Start by adding a tablespoon of the dry ingredients and a couple splashes of the hotsauce to the pasta sauce.
- Now, what we have is a marinara sauce that is pretty spicy. Use a couple teaspoons of each of the sweet ingredients (sugar and basil) to negate this to some extent.
- What results from these negations is a sweet and spicy but otherwise plain red sauce. Add enough of the herbs (parsley and oregano) to the mix so that, when stirred, they should be fairly visible. At this point, the sauce should be pretty fragrant.
- Go back and forth with the proportions of sweet, spicy, and herby to arrive at a combination that is appealing, adjusting accordingly for levels of spiciness. Typically, spicy > sweet > herby works best.
- Keep stirring and allow to boil. When it arrives at that point, lower the heat but keep stirring should it bubble some more (otherwise you get a big mess all over the stove). This should remain simmering until the pasta is ready to be drained.
- Preheat oven to 375°.
- In a large casserole dish, lather a quarter cup of the pasta sauce with a wooden spoon or something onto its bottom and sides.
- Lay down a layer of pasta.
- Throw down a thick layer of the ricotta cheese mixture and spread over the pasta.
- Grab a couple handfuls of the spinach and cover the layer of ricotta, pressing them down to get in enough spinach.
- Spoon a healthy helping of the red sauce over this green layer and then top with plenty of mozzarella cheese and some of the monterey jack cheese.
- Repeat steps 2-6 until arriving at the top of the casserole dish.
- For the top layer, lay down a layer of pasta and lather the remaining sauce on top. Go nuts with the remaining monterey jack cheese and all but a cup of the mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle the remaining parmesan/romano blend on top.
- Throw the lasagne into the oven and let bake for 40-45 minutes, allowing the cheese to melt and get golden. If careful, the lasagne can be left to bake in there for upwards of an hour.
- When it is done, sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese on top and let sit for 20 minutes. Serve with sourdough or italian bread (for those people who will invariably complain about the spiciness). Makes enough servings to feed a very small, third world country (like probably 6 healthy servings with room for seconds). Enjoy.