I rarely made recipes that take hours and hours when I was working full time. The thought of making a large batch of something time-consuming and then freezing it for future meals was pleasant in the abstract. But when the precious hours of the weekend are in front of you...I was more apt to spend them with my child and family than to want to devote big chunks of time to the kitchen.
As I wait for these interminable last days of pregnancy to pass, it is a good time to take advantage of Miss D's school days and make these labor-intensive (and freezable!) dishes. I've made potstickers and soup. My favorites have got to be the baked pastas though. Last week I made lasagne and this week I plan to make mac & cheese.
If you are going to the trouble of making lasagne, you might as well make the marinara. A BIG BATCH of marinara. Thanks to the Costco vat-o-san marziano whole tomatoes. I have enough sauce here for the lasagne + 1 additional baked pasta or two other dishes. I keep it really simple here. Just a little garlic and onion softened before adding the tomatoes and fresh herbs (basil and oregano) at then end- and seasoning of course.
Although I enjoy italian sausage, i am still squeamish about meat hidden in things. My favorite lasagne filling is one that an italian friend wrote down for me years ago (actually she taught me to make lasagne, period). Ricotta, parmesan, fresh garlic and a package of frozen chopped spinach thawed and squeezed. maybe a little fresh herbs too.
Let us not get too crazy here. If a shortcut is to be made, this is the one to do. No-boil noodles cook up just as delicious as boiled ones. (A trick from the italian friend ;)
Lots and lots of mozzarella cheese. Parmesan too. (not pictured)
Then the layering process begins. A thin layer of sauce. A layer of noodles. Another layer of sauce.
Dot on the filling...
Press with fingers to cover the surface area.
Cover with cheese (both kinds)
Repeat: Sauce, noodle, sauce, filling, cheese
I usually get 2 full layers. After the last cheese layer, One more Sauce, noodle, sauce round before covering the top with cheese.
Cover with foil and into a 375 degree oven for 45 mins. Take the foil off and bake another 15-20 mins until the top browns.
Because there are only 3 of us. I always make two separate pans, one for now and one for later. I usually cook both at the same time, taking the freezer one out after 45 mins. That way, the frozen one only has to be reheated- not defrosted and then cooked.