I did it. I finally took out the new pasta maker (our twin pandemic purchases!) for a spin. Literally spinning the handle.
I was still humming and hawing over what to make and what pasta recipe to actually use when luckily, Michelle at work recommended Julia Turshen’s recipe. Regular flour and regular eggs? And a food processor? No excuses now.
A Nice Lasagna
Recipe adapted from Small Victories: Recipes, Advice + Hundreds of Ideas for Home Cooking Triumphs Book by Julia Turshen
(Will feed about 4 hungry eaters or 6 polite eaters.)
270 grams all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
- This is the easiest part. Put everything in a food process and pulse until combined. I found the consistency to be perfect. But if it’s too dry, add 1 teaspoon of water and pulse. Or if it’s too sticky and wet, add 1 teaspoon of flour and pulse. I guess figuring this part out tricky because everyone’s environment and humidity is different. I did try to knead the dough just to shape it before I wrapped it. It was tough!
- Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and let it rest in room temperature for an hour.
- It’s like magic. After an hour, that dough is so soft and pliable. Nothing like when I first kneaded it!
2 28-oz cans whole peeled tomatoes
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon salt
240 millilitre crème fraîche
- While the dough rests, work on the sauce as it’ll take at quite some time to simmer and reduce.
- Using a pot over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil and then add the sliced garlic. Let it sizzle for about 1 minute.
- Add the tomatoes and salt. I was actually surprised to see that most tomatoes come with peels in the canned section of the grocery store. I ended up buy this one because they were the only peeled tomatoes! On low heat, I carefully mashed the tomatoes up using a potato masher. You can use a wooden spoon or spatula if you’d like. Just crush them up!
- Then bring the sauce to a boil back on medium-high heat. Lower the heat so that the sauce simmers for 30 minutes. My pot was non-stick, but I still stirred it maybe twice or three times? If the pot you’re using is not non-stick, then keep an eye on it so that nothing gets stuck on the bottom.
- Stir in the crème fraîche into the sauce. Oh gosh, this was another ingredient that was hard to find. And when I did, it was the last one left in the grocery store! They were packaged in two small 120 millilitre jars. The original recipe calls for 1 cup of crème fraîche which is about 236 millilitre – close enough! I used up all two jars to not waste any. (And you know I washed the glass jars and kept them.)
- Set the sauce aside to cool to room temperature.
Time to bring out the machine and play!!! So, unwrap that rested pasta dough and cut it into six even pieces. I eyeballed it as if I was cutting pizza (feel free to use a scale for more accuracy). Cover five of the pieces back in the plastic wrap so that it doesn’t dry out.
Dust the first piece of dough with flour and flatten it to a square or rectangle shape. Using the 0 setting on the machine, run it through. Then go through settings 1 to 6, rolling the dough through each time. We want the sheet to be thin but not transparent.
Cover with more flour and set it aside. Repeat for the other five pieces of dough.
Trim the sheets to the size of your baking pan.
1 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
1 cup mozzarella cheese, coarsely grated
1 large handfuls fresh basil leaves
- First, ladle some sauce to evenly cover the bottom of your baking dish. Then place in a layer of pasta sheet. Cover with sauce again. Use the bottom of your ladle to cover the sheet.
- Rip a few basil leaves and scatter them over the sauce.
- Then add some mozzarella cheese to cover and then the Parmesan cheese.
- Cover with another pasta sheet. Sauce. Rip basil. Cheeses. Repeat until the baking dish is near the top. We don’t want to go too high as things might bubble over in the oven.
- Most importantly, you must end on a sauce and cheese top! The basil and pasta will burn or dry up if exposed on the top layer.
- Preheat your oven to 400°F. I baked mine in my toaster oven! I was able to make another same-size lasagna and froze it for future meals.
- Bake for 40 minutes. Take it out of the oven and let it rest for 15 minutes so that the pasta really absorbs the sauce.
- Serve with Caesar salad? We had our lasagna with a tiny bit of smoked salmon.
You could also try this with a meat sauce, but I found this to be delicious meatless!
My favourite ingredient: tearing up the basil leaves as I go.
Howard’s favourite ingredient: the more cheese the better.
That cheesy crust! It puffed up like a dutch baby in the oven. I had to stab it so that it would deflate.
Eep! Look at those gooey layers! I loved how soft the pasta was and might even attempt to make it one level (7) thinner next time.
It’s not quite at the level of Parcheggio‘s lasagna, but come on, this was my first ever attempt!