My first recipe of the year is a Lasagna dish. Bob's favorite and a real cold winter not comfort food.
Yes, it is time consuming, but so worth it!
Three Layers Lasagna
2 celery sticks, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 onions, sliced
4 bags fresh baby spinach
3/4 lb assorted wild mushrooms, cut in half
3 lbs lean ground beef
8 hot Italian sausages, casing removed
2 large cans crushed tomatoes
1 cup red wine
1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper (or more to taste!)
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 head garlic, minced
20 leaves of fresh basil, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
25 lasagna pasta (cook according to box directions.)
Place a cheesecloth in a strainer and add the ricotta cheese. Let drain until ready to use.
In a large sauté pan or Dutch oven, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil. Add the carrots, celery and onion. Cook until tender, remove from the pan and set aside.
In the same pan, add more oil and sauté the spinach, on medium heat. Add a teaspoon of garlic. When done, transfer to a colander and allow to drain while preparing the rest of the ingredients.
Without adding any oil, add the meats to the hot pan and sauté until all cooked. Season with salt and pepper. When done, transfer to a large bowl with a slotted spoon. There will be some liquid left in the bottom of the pan. Discard if too fatty, otherwise reserve for the tomato sauce.
Heat the canned tomatoes in the pan. Add the wine, the remaining garlic, the Cayenne pepper, salt, the carrots, celery and onions. Add the basil and set aside.
Assemble the lasagna:
Ladle a thin layer of tomato sauce at the bottom of the baking dish. Pace a first layer of pasta. Cover with half the meat. Sprinkle wit h mozzarella cheese.
Place another layer of pasta. Spread the drained spinach evenly. Spread the ricotta on top of the spinach. Grate some nutmeg on top and sprinkle with mozzarella.
Place a layer of pasta on top. Cover with the remaining meat. Add the mushrooms and ladle some sauce on top. Sprinkle with mozzarella.
Place the final layer of pasta on top of the meat/mushroom layer and cover with more sauce. The amount of sauce you add varies according to each individual taste.
Bake at 375F for about 45 minutes, until bubbly. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and retur to the oven until melted.
Let stand a few minutes before cutting to let the juices settle.