Notes on a Lasagna

I’ve written before about how I annotate my recipes so that I can go back later and know what I did–make adjustments based on past shortcomings; or remember how to repeat past successes.  When it comes to lasagna, though, I don;t really have a recipe to annotate… so I figure I’ll just make my notes here and unless the internets fail, I should be able to dig this up when I need it.

The Noodles

I used De Cecco brand noodles.  i liked their size: they were short enough that they were easy to work with and fit comfortably in a 10 x 15 pan (several shingled widthwise and then two placed end to end lengthwise to fill in the gap on the side).

The box reports that if boiling, to cook them 4 minutes and then bake for 20 minutes in the pan.  I think about 6 minutes is a better timeline for the boiling.

The noodles had a tendency t stick together.  Pulling them from the hot water with tongs individually seemed to help, but it was important to get them out of e pan individually.  It seemed the best way to get this done was to stack them crosswise in the water, two abreast in each layer.  Wait a reasonable interval between adding the next layer (several seconds) and then to invert the stack so that they first ones dropped into the water were also the first to be pulled out.

I transferred them into a bowl of cold water for holding.  This worked well, but if they were stuck together when entering the cold water, they never came unstuck, so make sure to get them unstuck while still in the boiling water!

One pound of noodles seems about perfect for a 3-layer, 10 x 15 lasagna, assuming that you can get them all pulled out without being stuck together.  I had lots of leftover noodles from cooking two pounds….

The filling

6 crimini mushrooms short of a full Wild Purveyors CSA box.

I sauteed the shiitake first, then the royal trumpet, and finally the crimini, transferring each type of mushroom out of the pan after they were done to golden brown and caramelized.

I salted each batch of mushrooms individually–which was perhaps a mistake.  I probably should have used less salt.  The mushrooms wuld have been great as a side dish, but when stacked atop each other with all of the other components of the filling, it was a bit salty.

One onion, diced to small dice, caramelized.  When starting to turn golden brown, 2 heads of garlic, sliced thinly (about 20 cloves).  Cook until all is golden brown and beautiful.  Add frozen spinach.  When it’s thawed, mix the mushrooms into it.

2 blocks of frozen chopped spinach was about the right amount.

Ricotta/ Sauce mixture: I bought a 46-oz tub of ricotta.  This was way too much.  Probably only needed half this amount.

For the sauce of this portion: a 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes mixed with a little brown sugar, some marjoram, some basil, some thyme, and probably a bit too much salt.  I added more after I thought I had enough because I have a tendency to undersalt when making sauce from canned tomatoes and they always wind up tasting tinny and flat.  I overcorrected this time and should watch it on the next go-round.

Cheese:

3 x 8-ounce packets of mozarella.  Freshly grated parmesan.

Layering:

Rubbed the pan with butter to avoid sticking.  Thin layer of sauce (Ragu, large bottle–just shy of being the perfect amount).  Noodles, ricotta-sauce mix, spinach-mushroom mix, mozarella, tomato sauce, noodle, etc.  Add the parmesan to the very top.

Bake 375 for about 30 minutes.

Results: over-salted, but otherwise, quite satisfying.

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