Sunday, August 9, 2009

Cazuela Lasagna

This is a longer than normal video where I make what I call Cazuela lasagna which is a home made, round, pasta lasagna.

To make the sauce, core and roughly chop approx. 10 pounds of tomatoes.

In a large pot add 1/2 cup olive oil and 8-12 garlic cloves (about a head). Cook over medium high heat and before the garlic browns add the chopped tomatoes. Add a large branch or two of rosemary and simmer for an hour or longer. Best made the day before.

Meanwhile, make the pasta dough. In a standing mixer add 4 cups of whole wheat flour, 4 egg yolks and 4 eggs. Mix until it comes together, if it is too dry add a few drops of water or another egg. Remove from bowl and let rest for 30 minutes. Divide into 8 balls.

In a separate bowl add 4 cups of ricotta*, mix in 2 eggs, 2 T freshly chopped rosemary, 1 teapsoon (or to taste) hot pepper flakes, and a generous portion of salt and black pepper, taste and adjust seasoning. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Fill the largest frying pan you have and fill with water, add a pinch of salt and bring to a boil.

Roll each ball on a clean surface with plenty of whole wheat flour as thin as you can get them into rounds. These will be on the thick side, not to worry, the pasta acts as a sponge to all the tomato sauce and become silky smooth and light with cooking.

When all 8 rounds have been rolled, one at a time, place in boiling water, cook for 1 minute on each side . Remove from water, set aside and repeat.

In your cazuela, add some of your tomato sauce, grate some Parmesan over it then place a single layer of pasta over it. Repeat. Between layer 7 and 8 add the ricotta mixture.

On the final layer spread the remainder of the tomato sauce, grate Parmesan, and cover in thinly sliced disks of fresh Mozzarella (two fresh balls).

Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, finish off under the broiler under the cheese has started to brown.

Drain of any excess liquid created by the Mozzarella. This is best served the day after if you have the forethought to be able to make it a day in advance. When you serve it fresh from the oven it can seem a bit soupy, although usually the thickness of the pasta soaks up most of the sauce.

Not to worry it's delicious either way. Serve with home made bread and a salad.

A great party meal. Enjoy!

* All ricotta is not created equally, usually I buy local made ricotta from Saxelby cheese, when I made this it was a Sunday and I had not planned well so I had to go to buy commercial stuff and it was much creamery and ended up making a far looser lasagna, not ideal. If you buy ricotta that is loose and very creamy in texture add 1 or 2 more eggs and if you can serve the lasagna the day after you make it giving it plenty of time to absorb all the juices and firm up. This is mostly an aesthetic issue, it tastes great both ways it just can be a bit runny which I feel is less than ideal. Farmers cheese is also an option.

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