The Simple Art of Cooking: Heavenly Lasagna

When Southampton residents Lilia and Michael Collins visited me in Miami from Delray Beach this winter, they brought me the makings of amazing lasagna. I adapted and detailed the recipe below to be prepared in stages. Significant is the no-cook, fresh pasta squares that can be purchased frozen in most supermarkets. The tomato sauce, the chicken meatballs and the chicken sausage can all be prepared ahead then layered completely ahead before baking and serving. Sautéed garlic spinach can accompany the pasta for the cool green color of spring. Have a happy Easter.

Lilia Collins’ Chicken Meatballs and Chicken Sausage Lasagna

This lasagna made with no-cook, fresh, raw, pasta product* works like a charm. The lasagna below is the sum of its parts and can be prepared the day before baking and serving.

Serves 6 to 8

For the tomato sauce

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 28-ounce cans whole tomatoes

1/2 can cold water

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1 peeled carrot, thinly sliced

1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

a few celery leaves

2 to 3 fresh basil leaves

1 cup dry red wine

The rind from a wedge of Parmesan, if available

For the chicken sausage

3 to 4 chicken sausages

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon chopped rosemary

For the chicken meatballs

2 pounds ground chicken

3 large eggs

1/4 cup bread crumbs

About 1/3 to 1/2 cup cold water

About 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 10 oz. package fresh, raw pasta squares

The cheeses

1 pound low-fat ricotta cheese

1 container mozzarella

About 1/2 cup grated Parmesan

1. Pour oil in a saucepan over medium heat; add garlic and pepper flakes and sauté 30 to 40 seconds. Add contents of canned tomatoes, 1/2 of one can of cold water, breaking up the tomatoes as well as possible, season with salt and pepper to taste, and the remaining sauce ingredients. Bring sauce to the edge of a boil, and then simmer with cover ajar for 25 to 30 minutes. Sauce can be prepared ahead and refrigerated or frozen in a suitable container. Bring to room temperature when ready to layer your lasagna with the following.

2. Place chicken sausages in a bowl, pour over olive oil and rosemary and toss to mix. Marinate for 30 to 60 minutes. Broil or bake the sausages, cut into one-inch pieces and set aside.

3. Place the ingredients for the chicken meatballs in a bowl and stir very well to mix. Cover and refrigerate mixture for 1 hour. With wet hands shape the mixture into 1/2 to 3/4 inch meatballs. Place sauce in a large saucepan and put in the meatballs. Bring to a simmer and cook the meatballs for 15 to 20 minutes.

4. In a large Pyrex lasagna pan place several spoonfuls of tomato sauce in the base of the pan. Separate lasagna squares and place them one layer deep over the sauce. Place one third ricotta over the squares and spread with the back of a spoon. Place one third mozzarella slices over the ricotta and top with a thin layer of grated Parmesan. Arrange a layer of pasta squares over the cheese and spoon one third of the sauce with meatballs and sausage slices over the pasta. Place another layer of pasta squares over the sauce layer and continue to layer, pasta, cheese, sauce, pasta, cheese, sauce, finishing with a layer of pasta topped with slices of mozzarella and grated Parmesan. Lasagna is now ready to bake. The lasagna can be refrigerated overnight, covered with a tent of foil. Bring to room temperature if refrigerated and bake in a 350°F over for 25 minutes, uncover and bake for 15 to 20 minutes longer. Serve hot.

*Frozen fresh, raw no-cook pasta squares are available in most supermarkets.

Sautéed Spinach with Garlic and Hot Pepper

Spinach can be used interchangeably with Swiss chard.

Serves 6

2 pounds fresh loose spinach

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 large cloves garlic cut into slivers or

crushed whole

Pinch hot pepper flakes, optional

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

2 to 3 teaspoons breadcrumbs

1. Remove heavy stems from spinach and discard any blemished leaves. Rinse spinach leaves thoroughly in several changes of lukewarm water to get rid of sand and grit. Drain, leaving some of the water that clings to its leaves and coarsely chop leaves on a board.

2. Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet and add the garlic and optional pepper flakes. Sauté for 40 to 50 seconds or just until garlic is a light golden brown. Put in the spinach and season with salt and pepper to taste if not using the flakes. Toss the leaves to coat in the pan and cook for 3 to 4 minutes until slightly wilted. Sprinkle over breadcrumbs; give the leaves another toss to absorb the excess liquid in pan and serve hot.

Visit Silvia’s website at savoringthehamptons.com to read her blogs and more recipes.

 

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