Saturday, April 14, 2007

On My Hearth: Carmela's Lasagna with Basil Leaves

I have posted this recipe before on my old blog, but in case anyone missed it, it's worth a re-post. Since making this for the first time last summer, it's been my favorite lasagna of all time. The fresh basil, picked from my herb garden, is such a nice touch, really adds a special flavor to the dish. I do not use Carmela's meat sauce, though, because I want to keep it vegetarian-friendly; instead I just use some Newman's Own sauce in whatever variety strikes my fancy.

This recipe is from Entertaining with the Sopranos.


1 lb. dried lasagna
5 to 6 cups meat sauce
2 lbs. ricotta
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano
1 large bunch basil, leaves removed, rinsed and dried
12 oz. fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced

1. In a large pot, bring 4 quarts salted water to a boil. Add a few pieces of lasagna and cook, stirring gently, until tender but slightly underdone. Scoop the pasta out of the water with a sieve, and cool it in a bowl of cold water. Cook remaining pasta. When cool enough to handle, lay the lasagna out flat on lint-free (not terry cloth) kitchen towels.

2. In a bowl, beat the ricotta and salt and pepper to taste.

3. Spread a thin layer of the sauce in a 9-in. by 13-in. baking pan. Place a few sheets of lasagna in the pan in a single layer, overlapping slightly. Spread evenly with about one-third of the ricotta mixture and sprinkle with 2 Tbsp. of the grated cheese. Make a layer of basil leaves and another of mozzarella slices on top. Make two more layers the same way. Top with a final layer of lasagna, sauce and remaining grated cheese. (The lasagna can be made ahead to this point. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate several hours or overnight.)

4. Place a rack in the centre of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 F.

5. Bake the lasagna for 45 minutes. If the lasagna is browning too much, cover it loosely with foil. Bake 15 minutes more (longer if it has been refrigerated), or until top is browned and sauce is bubbling around the edges. Let stand 15 minutes. Cut into squares and serve. Serves 8 to 10.

• • • • •


Use in the lasagna recipe.

1 medium onion, chopped
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
2 Tbsp. olive oil
8 oz. sweet Italian-style sausage, casings removed
1 lb. ground beef sirloin
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 35-oz. can Italian peeled tomatoes, chopped
1 28-oz. can tomato puree
6 fresh basil leaves, torn into bits

1. In a large saucepan, cook the onion and garlic in the oil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 7 minutes.

2. Stir in the sausage meat. Add the beef and salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring often, until the meat is nicely browned and crumbly. Tip pan and discard fat.

3. Add the tomatoes and tomato puree, then add about 1/2 cup water to each can and swirl it around to rinse out the can. Add the liquid to the pan, along with salt and pepper to taste. Partially cover the pan and bring the sauce to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened and the oil has separated from the tomatoes, about 1 1/2 hours.

4. Stir in the basil and cook 5 minutes more.

5. Serve immediately.


Mother of Invention said...

I can't handle the cooked noodles very well so I have to use oven ready, but actually, they're a lot easier!

Rapunzel said...

Mother of Invention, I have never used those oven ready noodles, will have to give 'em a try one day!