No- not all 15 lived there, but over the course of 3 years living in that house we sure saw a lot of squatters!
When we moved in together way back then, Nessa had just been diagnosed with a Gluten Allergy; Celiac Disease. This gave us a really great opportunity to cook together, and explore some of the new challenges that her diet would have on her life. The first thing gone was wheat based pasta; there are many options available on the market but the more cost effective options to us were corn and rice. Corn pasta is not something I like to cook with, its finicky about being over cooked, and does not taste very nice. Rice pasta however seems to replicate the same sorts of textures as regular pasta, and also was not as easy to over cook. (and important thing for lasagna noodles...) Helping my friend in her path to learning how to cook for her new set of needs started to teach me the grass roots lessons I have had to show me the benefits of whole cooking. It was not long after reading the backs of boxes and packages and plastic labels for any hint of gluten or it's by-products (of which there are countless!) that I realized I would not have to worry about the ingredients list if I happen to be the one writing it.
Instead of opting for the many pr-emade gluten free prepared food choices; we invested in things like Cornstarch, Xantham Gums, and Rice Flour blends. We taught ourselves how to make gravy thick and rich without starting off with a traditional cooked flour base. Sought out the ability to build up our flavour base without the use of Soupstarting packages, or premade seasoning blends. These are often full of gluten in one form or another like a thickener, or a reconstituted vegetable protein that has been dusted in gluten.
That is why my Lasagna Sauce is starting off with one full diced onion, 5 diced cloves of garlic and one sliced shallot. Along with a tablespoon of grapeseed oil this will carry my sauce flavour wise all the way to the end. Its a great idea to season at this point too. I used Bay leaf, red hot chilli peppers ;) and some fennel. I slowly Sauteed these till the onions got a little caramel colour and they had a chance to merry with the spices.
A few months ago my boyfriend and I decided to try and cut back on the amount of meat we were eating on a weekly basis. Neither of us had ambitions to be full vegetarians, but cutting back was important to us both which made the process much easier. This meant introducing more protein to our diet in creative ways; but also finding ways to eat meals that usually have meat in them but just opting out. Lasagna turned out to be a great veggie choice. Instead of sausage and ground turkey, which is what i would normally use, this time I have 2 different kinds of mushrooms.
This plethora of Fungi really helps to "flesh out" the sauce and even gives a wonderful meaty, earthy flavor to the sauce that I find is often missing in a vegetarian lasagna. Couple those with some Zucchini, and two tins of sodium free whole tomatoes and you got yourself a wonderful tasting lasagna sauce.
I used my Immersion Blender to puree some of the tomatoes but I also left some bigger chunks through out, cause I like a chunky sauce ^_^ and if you dont like it... well make your own lasagna! ;) Dont forget when you are building your pasta in the casserole dish, put a layer of sauce down before anything or your noodles will bake to the pan.
Sauce, noodles, Sauce, cheese, Sauce, noodles, Sauce, cheese, Spinach, cheese, noodles, Sauce, cheese, Sauce, noodles, Sauce, cheese.
Brown rice noodles need a lot of sauce! All must be covered as well to make sure that no noodle is left behind in the cooking process. Press down your layers gently with each addition, dont over pack it either or your oven will
Finally, the important part to a Spectacular Lasagna: you have to do it Biscotti Style.
Have you ever wondered to yourself, MY! this chili is even better the next day! Or Ya know I love beef stew, but i love beef stew leftovers even more! Maybe you even sneak off to the kitchen and pick away at the Curry leftovers in the container in your fridge the morning after a night of indian feasting. There is a simple explaination for this strange occurrence and that is: the longer your flavors have to merry and mellow together, the better your food is going to take. This is the defining characteristic of most comfort foods as well, warm, and cohesive; every flavor about this classic lasagna is going to come together 10 fold once you bake it the second time around.
What this means for you, the lasagna maker is this. You will either have to make your lasagna the night or day before you want to eat it; or alternatively, like I do, start your day off early, get that sucker in the oven and baking before 1 pm, let it rest for a while (3 hours min) and then bake it again. You wont get the over night fridged effect, but you can make your lasagna a whole day project that helps to keep your "snowed-in" apartment warm. =)
350 degrees for a good 60-75 minutes at first, then another bake about that long for a fridge cold lasagna. Or about half that for just a counter cooled all day lasagna.
I think I have rambled on enough here about supper, its time to put mine in for the second bake, and get to eating!
Now I just need to find a good way to deliver pieces to far away friends. =)
4 cheese lasagna..... Done.