Easter Tradition with a Twist: Classic vs. White Lasagne

eggosWhile at the grocer’s the other day, I was feeling down about the kids being on their own and not having them here to dye Easter eggs with.  (During their teen years, I would dye all but two and the kids would each do one obligatory egg for mama).  My spirit perked up when I realized I had to make an Easter lasagne.  The tradition goes back to my grandma, if not further.   Easter eggs

Mr. Cheese said “let’s dye eggs too!”  All of a sudden our week got really busy.  

We would make two lasagnes – the classic red, as well as a  white, vegetable lasagne with cream sauce.  If the white one turned out horrible, we could fall back on the old safety net of the red one.  White Lasagne

classic lasagne

RED SAUCE

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped (we used bits of left over red, green and orange)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons cooking sherry
  • 28 ounce can of stewed tomatoes (we use Furmano’s – but sometimes fresh)
  • (2) each – 6 ounce cans tomato paste (we use Contadina with no added herbs)
  • 1 & 1/2 cups of water
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • a pinch of oregano
  • 1 pinch of sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 pound of ground beef, already cooked & drained

How to Make It!

In a large sauce pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the garlic, peppers, onion and salt.  Cook until the vegetables are thoroughly softened and the onions are translucent, about 30 minutes.  Add the cooking sherry and let cook another 5 minutes.  Stir in the tomatoes and cook for about 10 minutes then remove from heat and bring to room temperature.  Put the vegetable mix into a food processor or blender and puree until mostly smooth.  Return the sauce to the pot and add all remaining seasoning and herbs, along with the cooked ground beef.  Put on low simmer with a lid on, and leave on heat stirring occasionally, until ready to use.  We usually cook italian sausage to eat on the side, so once you use the sauce for lasagne prep, add the cooked sausage to the sauce, for additional flavoring. 

Ricotta Cheese Mixture for Both Lasagnes

Traditional “Red” Lasagne A Variation – “White” Lasagne
1 pound ricotta cheese 1 pound ricotta cheese
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded ½ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated ¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 egg ½ cup Gruyère cheese, shredded
1 teaspoon nutmeg, ground 1 egg
¼ cup parsley, fresh chopped ¼ cup parsley, fresh chopped
2 Tablespoons garlic, minced 1 teaspoon nutmeg, ground
  2 Tablespoons garlic, minced

How to Make It!

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients for ricotta mixture of choice, and set aside.  

 

WHITE SAUCE

  • 1/3 cup butter, unsalted
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons dry white wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, ground
  • 12 ounces light cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, to taste

How to Make It!

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat, add the shallot and cook until translucent and softened.  Add the wine and cook for another 3-5 minutes, then slowly sprinkle in the flour while stirring the entire time, to mix the butter and flour together.  Cook over medium heat until the mixture turns a nice dark golden color.  While stirring with one hand, and slowly pouring with the other, add the light cream to the butter-flour mixture – aka a roux.  Do not let up stirring, but stir gently until all lumps and bumps are removed from the sauce.  Turn heat to low simmer, remove the sauce and strain through a sieve, getting out all of the shallot bits.  Return the smooth sauce to the pot, stir and taste and add salt to your liking.  Rejoice in your crazy-good ability to make this fine sauce.  

FOR ASSEMBLY – RED

  • 1 cup + sauce (see above)
  • 1 pound lasagne noodles (we use San Giorgio no boil)
  • ricotta cheese mixture (see below)
  • 1/2 pound italian pepperoni stick, sliced thin
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, shredded

How to Assemble! (RED)

lasagneWipe the inside of a large casserole dish with olive oil.  Spread about 1/4 cup of sauce on the bottom of the dish.  Cover the pan with lasagne noodles, layering the ends with each other.  Spread a thin layer (about 1/3) of the ricotta mixture over the noodles.  Top this with pepperoni slices, being careful not to neglect the ends or corners.  Sprinkle with about 1/3 each of the mozzarella and parmesan cheeses. 

Continue layering in this fashion until you have at least 3 full layers.  finish with a layer of sauce and a generous sprinkle of the remaining cheese.  Tent with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, then remove foil and bake for another 15-20 minutes until browned and bubbly.  Once removed from the oven, allow to sit for at least 10 minutes prior to serving.  Serves 6-8 

FOR ASSEMBLY:  WHITE (VEGETABLE)

  • 1 cup + white sauce
  • 2 medium eggplants, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oilready to bake
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 3 vine ripened tomatoes, thin sliced
  • 4 ounces fresh spinach leaves
  • ricotta cheese mixture
  • 1 pound lasagne noodles
  • 1 cup shredded Gruyère cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

How to Assemble! (WHITE)

Brush the eggplant slices lightly with olive oil then sprinkle with sea salt and roast at 425 degrees for 10 minutes.  Allow the eggplant to cool completely before assembling. 

vegetable lasagne with white sauceWipe the inside of a large casserole dish with olive oil.  Spread 1/4 cup of white sauce on the bottom of the dish.  Cover the dish with lasagne noodles, then top the noodles with a thin layer of spinach leaves.  Top with a layer of eggplant slices, then tomato slices and sprinkle with about 1/3 each of the Gruyère and mozzarella cheeses.  Lightly drizzle the white sauce over the pan. 

Continue in this fashion until you have at least two full layers.  With the thickness of the eggplant, tomato and spinach, it will be difficult to attain three layers without the pan overflowing.  The final layer should be noodles, a complete coating of sauce and a generous sprinkle of both Gruyère and mozzarella cheeses.  Tent with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, then remove foil and bake for another 30 minutes until browned and bubbly.  Set aside and let rest for at least 10 minutes prior to serving.  Fall over from the gooey, cheesy, creamy goodness that is white, vegetable lasagne.  Serves 6-8

 

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About tossingtheswissaround

I have been obsessed with food since I can remember. I grew up watching the Frugal Gourmet and Julia Childs in black and white repeats on TV. I made an elementary version of veal parmesan when I was all of 8 years old and even concocted a homemade version of vomit to drizzle along the hallway and oh-so-carefully in the bathroom so I could get of school whenever I wanted. Dad never caught on but I eventually came clean about that vomit recipe. About two years ago. My skills have greatly improved and my obsession has only deepened as the years go by. In the mornings, I ask my co-workers what’s for lunch, what they ate last night and what is on the menu tonight. I groan when I eat almost anything I like because I can barely contain my excitement. Because, well, because it’s food! I was technically trained and once worked as a formal chef but physically that takes its toll so I joined the much less strenuous, albeit entertaining, world of HR. Food is still at the forefront of my mind as I continue to cook and love all things food. Enjoy!
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One Response to Easter Tradition with a Twist: Classic vs. White Lasagne

  1. Those look great. And I love your little notes on what you use. It reminds me of someone else who can be a little picky at times. Also, I love the idea of lasagna on Easter, hope yours was a happy one.

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