Monday, August 30, 2010

Spinach Lasagnette

This is a take on "Thousand Layer Lasagna" from Smitten Kitchen, inspired by 101 Cookbooks. I simplified the most labor-intensive, time consuming step (not to mention extremely difficult for those of us who are spatially challenged when it comes to counter-top area) --- rolling out the paper-thin sheets of pasta.  I know that one day I will have the room and the time to make my own pasta (I do have a pasta machine after all). But until then, I'm using pasta sheets that someone else rolled out.  I also learned a little tip: you can use wonton wrappers for the lasagna layers. They are thin and can be substituted for traditional pasta sheets.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  

Basic, Awesome Tomato Sauce (Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, inspired by 101 Cookbooks)

2 tablespoon butter
2 large shallots, finely chopped
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt
A couple glugs red wine (and a few more!)
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
1 15-ounce can pureed tomatoes
A handful of julienned basil (optional)
Zest of one lemon (optional)

Melt butter in saucepan over medium-high heat until foam subsides. Add shallots, red pepper flakes and salt, sauteing them together for a few minutes until the shallots are translucent and beginning to color. Add the red wine, letting it sizzle and cook down slightly, then the whole and pureed tomatoes. Breaking the whole tomatoes up with a wooden spoon, let the sauce simmer for a few minutes. Season to taste. I used an immersion blender to puree the sauce, but if you like a thicker texture, leave it as is. 

Other lasagnette ingredients: 10 ounces of baby spinach, sauteed in olive oil with two chopped cloves of garlic, seasoned to taste and cooled slightly, then mixed with 1 to 2 cups ricotta (Fairway supermarket has a lovely hand-packed ricotta. If you really want to splurge-- and man, this stuff is great-- Brooklyn Larder has ricotta too) and 1/2 cup grated parmesan, dropped in small dollops around each layer. 
Pull it all together. Ladle a bit of the sauce into the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Cover the bottom with a layer of pasta sheets, a thin layer of sauce, and a bit of cheese.  Keep going until you've used up all the sauce and pasta. You want to finish with a layer of pasta. Top with the last of the sauce and the torn mozzarella.
Bake until everything is melted and fragrant, 35 minutes or so. Let it sit for 10 minutes before serving. Dust with parmesan and a bit of slivered basil. 
Bon Appetito!

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