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Gary’s Lasagna 

Meat and Cheese Lasagna with Roasted Vegetables

 

I made this lasagna for our “cousin’s party”. They raved about it and wanted the recipe. Well I love to cook and can spend a lot of time preparing a meal, so if you want great lasagna… you gotta work for it… and love it!

 

Better have 2 lasagna pans... Serve one today and freeze the other for another day!

 

(Better read the list and directions entirely before you start!)

Lactose intolerant?… Leave out the cheese.

 

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs. lean ground beef or sirloin or turkey

  • 2 garlic bulbs (yup, the whole things)

  • 3 or 4 garlic cloves

  • 2 green peppers

  • 2 red peppers

  • 5 jalapeno peppers (you can use less or more… but it really adds a nice dimension)

  • 3 eggplants

  • 4 yellow cooking onions

  • 12 oz mushrooms

  • 8 fresh and ripe red plum tomatoes

  • 1 12oz can of whole plum tomatoes

  • 1 small can of tomato paste

  • 2 tb sugar

  • Fresh basil (3 – 5 stems)

  • Fresh oregano (3 – 5 stems)

  • ½ teaspoon of cinnamon

  • 2 teaspoons of fennel seeds

  • 3 oz of sambooka or ouzo

  • Lasagna noodles (I prefer the fresh sheets, but you can use the dry strips that come in a box. Better get two. Remember, serve one and freeze the other...)

  • Mozzarella cheese

  • Parmesan cheese

  • Salt

  • Pepper (fresh ground black pepper)

  • Olive oil

  •  

  • You will need two pots, a cookie sheet and a lasagna dish.

 

Directions

  1. Cut the top and bottom off the eggplants and then cut lengthwise into ¼ inch slices. (I happen to like the skin of the eggplant when cooked. If you don’t, then peel the skin before slicing.) Layer the slices in a colander and lightly salt between each slice. Place colander in the sink and place a weight on the slices (small plate with can on top will do). Let stand in the sink for 1 to 2 hour to allow the moisture to come out of the eggplant. While the eggplant is sitting, prepare the other vegetables as follows.

  2. Lightly coat the garlic bulbs, green, red and jalapeno peppers in olive oil…

  3. Take 2 of the onions; remove the outer skin, cut into quarters and also lightly coat in olive oil.

  4. Place these items on a cookie sheet and into a pre-heated over set at 400F. Roast them all  until the skins on the peppers are blackened.

  5. Remove from oven when the peppers are blackened and place all items into a deep bowl, cover and let stand until cool.

  6. When cool, by hand, remove the skins, and seeds from the red and green peppers, cut into inch pieces and set aside.

  7. Use a knife to gently peel the skin and seeds of the jalapeno peppers (remember they are hot – do not touch your eyes or open soars with your hands). Cut into ¼ inch pieces and set aside.

  8. Take the garlic bulbs and pierce each clove near the top with a knife. Squeeze out the roasted garlic onto a plate and set aside.

  9. To prepare the plum tomatoes, put enough water into a pot to cover the tomatoes. Bring the water to a boil and then add the tomatoes. When the skin of the tomatoes splits and begins to peal back on it’s own remove from heat and rinse with cold water. When cool, peal the skins from the tomatoes and slice. Remove seeds and watery insides leaving just the meat of the tomato. Set aside.

  10. To prepare the mushrooms, clean and slice. Heat a large and deep pot. Add 2 tablespoons of butter and put in the mushrooms. Sauté the mushrooms until golden brown, then remove and set aside.

  11. At this stage, you can return to the eggplant. Remove from the colander and pat dry with towel or paper towel. In a small bowl, mix ¼ cup of olive oil with 3 crushed cloves of garlic, pinch of salt and pepper. With a baking brush or the backside of a spoon, coat both sides of each slice of eggplant with the oil mixture and place on cooking sheet. (You may need several cooking sheets, or several trips to the oven.) Place in 400F oven until the slices begin to brown. Remove from oven and let cool. Do not add the eggplant to the pot when cooking the sauce. You will layer the eggplant with the lasagna noodles later.

  12. Cut the remaining 2 onions into fine slices. Add olive oil to the pot to coat the bottom, heat and add onions. Stir and cook until they begin to brown.

  13. Add the ground meat to the pot and cook until browned. Drain the fat.

Time to start combining ingredients.

  1. Season the meat and onions with a little salt and pepper.

  2. Open the canned tomatoes. Squeeze each tomato with your hand before removing from the can, to allow the inner juice to escape. Place each tomato in the pot, but not the juice. Put the ca with juice to the side. If at the end of cooking, your sauce is too thick, you can thin it with this juice, but we are after a thick sauce.

  3. Add the tomato paste

  4. Add all the other vegetables and stir lightly so not to break up the vegetables (they are tender and fragile. Do not add the eggplant.).

  5. Wash the fresh basil and oregano. Remove the leaves and chop fine with a knife. Add to the pot.

  6. Add cinnamon, fennel seeds and sambuka.

  7. Add 3 cloves of fresh chopped garlic (yes… more garlic).

  8. Taste and add 1 or 2 tablespoons of sugar to taste.

  9. Add salt and pepper to taste.

  10. Let simmer on low heat for 30 minutes. The sauce should be very thick. Simmer longer than 30 minutes if necessary – but on low heat so it doesn’t scorch the bottom of the pot.

  11. Prepare the noodles. If using dry noodles from a box, cook as per instructions but do not cook fully. Leave the noodles slightly firm they will finish cooking in the oven and absorb the flavour of the sauce. If you are using fresh lasagna noodles, do not cook! They will cook when you warm the lasagna.

  12. Slice or shred the mozzarella cheese

Get your lasagna dish. It’s time to build.

  1. Using a ladle or large spoon, take enough of the sauce to coat the bottom of the lasagna dish. Next add a layer of lasagna noodles to cover the bottom, then a layer of the eggplant slices and then add a thicker layer of sauce, followed by a generous sprinkling of parmesan cheese, then a layer of mozzarella cheese. Add another layer of lasagna noodles, eggplant, etc., and continue until the dish is full. If you have any sauce left over, then hey… get the another dish and build another!

  2. Once built, now would be a good time to gently slice the lasagna with a sharp knife into serving size squares.

  3. When complete, place the dish on a cookie sheet and into a 300F oven for 30 minutes. The lasagna is already cooked. You are just heating it through and melting the cheese.

  4. Remove from oven, serve and enjoy.

I suggest red wine to compliment and fresh bread with butter.

A side of Caesar salad would also go nicely.

WOW!

 

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27 Sina Street, Georgina, ON, Canada L4P 3E9  Tel: (905) 628-4847  Email: gary@yoursocialworker.com