Cooking tends to play a big role in romance novels. Most of these scenes take place in contemporary romance novels, as we wouldn’t see the lady of the house cooking the meals and no matter how much the Cook/servants love their “masters” no romance would depict scenes of these people around the stove cooking with the family all around them the way contemporary romances do. While making tonight’s Christmas dinner, I decided to share my mom’s recipe with my readers because it is something everyone should know how to do. If you only know how to make one meal, it should be this. (How else are you going to impress your future in-laws?)
First, we’ll tackle the sauce. Being Italian, jarred sauces were never used in my house (neither were actual recipes for that matter).
1 can of tomato paste
1 can of tomato puree
crushed red pepper
garlic (powder or from a jar)
vegetable oil (or EVOO)
1/2 puree can on water
1. In a large pot, lightly cover the bottom with vegetable oil. This should be a very thin layer.
2. Add oregano (to cover the bottom of the pot), basil (a couple of light shakes), one shake of onion, black pepper, red pepper, and the garlic powder (if you’re using the garlic in a jar, use one tablespoonful).
4. Add the can of puree (do not throw the can away, as you will use it later.) and the can of paste.
5. Fill the can of puree with water (only to the half-way point) and add that to the pot.
6. Stir until there are no lumps of paste.
7. Let simmer for 2-3 hours.
Cheese Filling Ingredients
1 large ricotta (or 2 small ones)
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine ricotta, egg, and bread crumbs (only a light dusting).
2. Stir until well blended.
3. Refrigerate until needed.
1 lb chopped meat
1 lb chopped sausage
1 box lasagna noodles (I prefer Ronzoni and you’ll never see Barilla in my kitchen. Use whichever brand you can find. Just make sure that it isn’t the no boil kind.)
1 bag of shredded mozzarella (or a large block of mozzarella. I prefer polly-o or Sargento)
1. Brown the chopped meat and sausage. Add to sauce and let cook for at least an hour.
2. In a large pot, boil water.
3. Add a small amount of vegetable oil (or EVOO), so the noodles do not stick together.
4. Once the water is boiling, add the noodles. Cook until they are slightly soft. (You don’t want to cook them too long because we will be putting them in the oven.
5. Drain noodles and return them to the pot, which you will fill with cold water to cool off the noodles.
6. While the noodles are cooling, use a spoon with holes in it to take the chopped meat and sausage out of the sauce.
7. Drain the noodles.
8. Coat the bottom of the lasagna pan with sauce, so the noodles do not stick to the bottom.9. Cover the bottom of the pan with a layer of noodles.10. Cover with
a thin layer of ricotta cheese and sauce. Spread the cheese the same way you would frosting on a cake.
11. Add a layer of noodles.
12. Cover noodles with a layer of meat.
13. Add a layer of noodles.
14. Cover noodles with a layer of cheese mixture and sauce.
15. More noodles!
16. Add a layer of both cheese and meat.
17. Final layer of noodles!
18. Cover the noodles with a last layer of ricotta and sauce.
19. Add entire bag of shredded mozzarella.
20. Sprinkle parmesan cheese, oregano, and basil on top.
21. Cook on 350 degrees for an hour or until cheese is completely melted.