May 8, 2011

Recipe of the week: Lasagna that made them go ooooohhhhh weeee!

I'm telling you! My sister, my mom and Cathy went awwwwwwwwwwwww yeaaaaaaaaaaa when they tasted this spinach, bacon, and beef lasagna!

Takes a little while to make (about two hours), but if you are a meat lover, it will be worth it! 

You will need:

-Lasagna pasta (the one that is pre-cooked)
-Tomato Sauce (I used the brand "Garden Select")
-Ground beef
-4 strips of cooked bacon, chopped in small pieces.
-Tofu (optional)
-Thyme, parsley
-Spices (of your taste. I used salt, pepper and Montreal Steak spices hehe)
-1 large onion, chopped
-1 large red pepper, chopped
-1 pack of fresh, refrigeraged spinach (about 6 cups of spinach that will reduce to about 2 cups)
-Dried tomato pesto
-2 eggs, lightly beaten in a small bowl.
-Extra virgin olive oil
-About 6 cups of grated mozzarella (I used the large "Ptit Quebec" mozzarella package)


-In a large pan, cook the ground beef with half of the chopped onion and all of the pepper. Spice to your taste. When it starts browning and is almost cooked, add the tomato sauce (about 4 cups), some chopped tofu (optional) and the bacon. Let the sauce simmer on low heat for a few minutes.

-Preheat the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

-In another large pan, add two tablespoons of olive oil and caramelize the rest of the onion on medium heat. When they start to become tender, add the spinach. Mix everything, cover, and let the spinach reduce (about 4-5 minutes). Remove the spinach-onion mix and put in a large bowl.

-Mix the spinach-onion mix with 1 cup of the grated cheese. Then, little by little, add the egg mixture (you have to go very slowly, as you don't want to actually cook the eggs. In other words, add a little bit of egg mixture, mix well, add more mixture, mix well and so on.). Set aside.

-Prepare the Bechamel sauce. In the same pan you cooked the spinach, add 2 cups of cold water and mix with 3-4 tablespoons of flour. Add two tablespoons of pesto, some salt, 1 cup of grated cheese, pepper, thyme and parsley. Mix well and make sure the flour and water become homogeneous. Then, turn on the stove on medium and cook until the sauce starts to thicken. When you see that the sauce becomes creamy and looks yummy, you can turn the stove off :P

-In a large plate that goes in the oven, put some of the meat sauce at the bottom. Then, put one layer of lasagna. Cover with some spinach mix, then more meat sauce. Repeat until you fill in the plate (more or less than 5 layers), then, add the bechamel sauce on top. Make sure that the pasta is very well covered! Since the pasta is not cooked, you want to make sure there is enough liquid on them so that they cook well in the oven. I noticed that all the pasta wasn't completely completely covered, so I just added some wine to it #imjustsayin.

-Cover the top with the remaining grated cheese.

-Put some foil paper over the plate and put in the oven for 45 minutes. Then, uncover and cook for another 30 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes and enjoy this meal with a nice glass of red wine!

P.S. It is great with Ceasar Salad :)

Little tricks/extras

-If you like carrots, put carrots. If you like celeri, put celeri. I personally would have added some chopped zucchini, if I had any.
-If you prepare the bechamel and find that the sauce is not thick enough, mix two tablespoons of flour or 1 tablespoon of corn starch with 1/4 cup water in a separate cup or bowl, and add it to the sauce while it is cooking. DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT add the flour or corn starch directly in the sauce while it is boiling, it will just do clumps. I learned it the hard way.
-You can replace the meat by anything you want! Chopped italian sausage, ground chicken, hell, you can even not put meat at all! A spinach only lasagna tastes great, too.
-No spinach at home? Broccoli is great, too. 
-If you're reaaaaaaaaaally really really not feeling like making the meat sauce, you can buy some that's already made. It'll save you about 20 minutes. Same thing for the spinach, I know people that make lasagna with the spinach

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