Gluten Free Lasagna!!
Ok, we’re of Italian ancestry, so that means our Holiday dinner may be a bit different than the typical one. Meaning, Italian foods always sneak their way into the menu!!
Here’s a recipe for that old favorite: Lasagna!! Yes, there are several ways to prepare it; meatless, with meat(s), vegetarian, etc.
We also have a recipe for Lasagna Rollettes. That’s basically the same pasta, same sauce; just that each piece is rolled up with the filling inside.
Kinda fun, especially for the kids.
Yet, since we love tradition, I decided to post the Lasagna recipe you see here. Now, we all know this isn’t just a dish prepared when there’s a holiday you’re stressing about, you can do this any old time of year, and enjoy the lovely pasta dish without all of the rush, stress, and time-constraints. So, go for it!! You may want to make this a day ahead. It’s less stress on the day you’re serving it, and you’ll be glad you did.
You’ll need a Tomato Sauce, and mine is cooked with meatballs, or the same ingredients that are in a meatball but sautéed “loose” and not formed into a ball. You can use solely ground beef, or a combo of half ground beef and half ground pork or veal. Your choice. Follow the directions for the meatball recipe, and just use whichever type you prefer. Some folks use mashed sausage meat in their Lasagna, but I didn’t. (If you do, remove the meat from the sausage casing, and brown it in a skillet, mashing with a fork, in a tbl of EVOO.)
You will need time. The sauce ( from scratch…hey, I’m Italian) takes 1 ½ hrs to simmer first.
Ok…let’s go. Have faith…you can do this!
Ingredients for Meatballs :
2 lbs. Ground Beef. Or a combo of Beef and Pork/Veal.
2 Lg. eggs
½ cup Flavored Italian Bread Crumbs, Gluten Free of course
2 slices G-Free White Bread
¼ cup Milk or Substitute
Dash of Salt & Pepper
½ teas Garlic Powder
1 teas. Parsley Flakes
3 tbl Extra Virgin Olive Oil. (EVOO) Enough to coat the bottom of the skillet or fry pan.
Directions for Meatballs:
Soak the bread slices in the milk in a small bowl for a few minutes.
Put the other ingredients in a large bowl, and add the bread, having broken up the wet slices into crumbles. It’s ok that it’s wet. Combine with clean hands, but don’t overwork the mixture. Too much handling will toughen it. Just get combined and then stop.
Form into meatballs of about 2-3 in. in size.
Alternatively, you can leave this “loose” and just brown the meat a little at a time.
In a large skillet, put the Olive Oil and saute the balls turning with a lg. spoon to brown every side. Don’t worry about length of time…these will cook a long time in the sauce too.
Ingredients for Sauce:
If going for a “Scratch” Sauce, you’ll need:
3 cans Italian Crushed Tomatoes.
2 tbl EVOO
3 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 teas. Onion. Very little actually, also minced.
Several Basil Leaves. You can roll up the leaves, and then slice thinly into strips or rough chop. No matter which way…tastes the same.
Salt & Pepper to taste
Put oil in large sauce pot. When warmed, saute the onion and garlic BRIEFLY. Do not turn your attention away or it burns.
Add the rest of the items and cover pot. Simmer on LOW.
If the meat is already browned, drain out the oil form the skillet, or use a slotted spoon, and add the meat to the sauce.
Cover. STIR EVERY 15 MINUTES, Being certain to reach the bottom of the pot. Sauce has a tendency to stick if not. Simmer on low for about 1 ½ hrs.
Ingredients for Lasagna:
1 lb. to 1 ½ lbs Gluten Free Lasagna This could be 2 boxes.
2 lb. Ricotta. Skim or Whole Milk Ricotta.
1 lb. Mozzarella. If buying a whole piece, slice thinly or grate into shredded cheese. There are many tools for shredding, but no expense for that is needed. Slicing yourself with a knife is fine. (We’re spending enough money these days. Get one when you see a sale.)
Place the Mozzarella in a sm bowl and set aside.
Grated Italian Cheese. Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano. You’ll need quite a bit. Used here and served at table. Get a fresh package: maybe 8 oz. All markets sell it. (Try not to use the jarred ones that are sold on shelves, probably dated for years.)
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 Lg. Egg, beaten
In a large bowl, combine the Ricotta and Grated Cheese, Salt & Pepper, and Egg. Not the Mozzarella yet. Mix by hand, stirring well to incorporate it all. Set it aside.
So, when ready to make the final dish, after the sauce has cooked, you’ll put up a very large pot of water to cook the Lasagna Noodles.
Fill the pot 2/3 way with water. Add 1 tbl Salt. This is the only time to salt the pasta. If you don’t, it tastes very blah.
When water boils, add the long noodles. Leave whole. It may seem hard to add it, but use a wooden spoon to gently guide the noodles into the water, as they get soft and bend a little.
Stir immediately and often.
Taste a sm piece that you cut off one of the ends for al dente.
Drain well in a large collander.
Replace the pasta back into the pot and immediately add cold water to prevent the noodles from sticking to each other.
On the counter, line up everything you need: a bowl with the Ricotta, a bowl with the Mozzarella, one with the mashed Meatballs, Grated Cheese ,the Sauce, and the pot of cool water with the cooked Pasta.
In a large rectangular Lasagna pan or glass dish,
Coat the bottom with a ladle-full or 2 of sauce. This will prevent sticking.
Take a long noodle and pat dry with a clean kitchen towel or paper towels.
Place them one at a time, aside each other, but be sure they are overlapping very slightly, perhaps by 1/8 inch. No gaps between slices.
When the whole pan is lined, the next step is to spoon some of the Ricotta Mixture all over the pasta.
Sprinkle some of the mashed meatballs all over,
Then sprinkle that with the Mozzarella. Then add a tablespoonful of sauce here & there, on the top. Don’t pour lots of sauce; it will get too wet.
Repeat with the next layer: dried Pasta, Ricotta, Meat, Mozzarella.
Repeat again and if there’s space, do a 4th time.
After the last layer is in place, use the ladle and pour some sauce on the top.
Sprinkle with lots of Mozzarella and Grated Cheese.
You can do all of these steps a day ahead. Cover with both plastic wrap and foil, to keep fridge odors from penetrating.
On day of serving, remove from fridge about 30 minutes before oven, so it’s not sooo cold.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Bake until bubbly at edges and a knife inserted in the middle comes out with some hot cheese on it. The top Mozzarella should also have melted and not browned. Nothing is worse than burnt Mozzarella.
Allow to sit on counter about 10-15 minutes before slicing into squares. It’s easier to serve that way.
On table, place a gravy-boat with sauce, and another dish with grated cheese for all to use as their tastes desire. Yippee!! Gluten Free Lasagna.