Wednesday December 17
Mark and Lea left behind a half pack of no-boil lasagne noodles, and they have been sitting around looking wistful ever since. So as she was home today, Barbara decided to experiment with making lasagne without boiling the pasta. She read up on it, and discovered that the chief secret is adding extra water to the sauce. Sounds easy, right? Well, lasagne is never easy, unless you use all-prepared ingredients, in which case you might as well just shoot yourself, or make spaghetti with your own goddamn quick-simmered tomato sauce and cheese. But still.
As it was only half a box and we are only two, she got out the 9x9 pyrex instead of the large one, and preheated the oven to 375º.
Then the seat-of-the-pants sauce: whizzed up a clove of garlic, some kosher salt, and a big handful of fresh oregano leaves in the robot-coupe, then added a small can of crushed tomatoes, about 2 Tbsp. tomato paste, and 3/4 cup of water, and whizzed again. Poured the sauce into a bowl.
To keep from dirtying too many dishes, in the same slightly tomatoey robo-coupe, she whizzed up a small handful of parsley leaves, salt and white pepper (for that nutmeg flavor), a little chunk of romano cheese, about 2 oz. of Trader Joe's mozzarella, an egg, and about a pound of pre-drained cottage cheese (American ricotta is very little different than that, so why pay twice as much for it?).
Ladled about a cup of sauce into the bottom of the pyrex, and broke the ends off all the noodles, saving the pieces, so the first three broken ones just fit together across the bottom and made the first noodle layer.
On top of that went half the cheese mixture,
then a generous sploosh of sauce, about a third of what was left.
The center noodle layer was composed of all the pieces, so they'd be hidden in the middle.
Then all the rest of the cheese mixture,
then another generous layer of sauce, half of what was left.
and then the prettier long pieces of noodle on top.
All the rest of the tomato sauce went on top of that.
And on that went thin slices off the rest of the pound of mozzarella, until the whole surface was covered.
Finally topped the whole thing with grated romano, asiago, and any other grating cheese we happened to have.
Covered the pyrex tightly with two layers of tinfoil, and put it in the oven to bake.
Uncovered it after an hour to find a layer of water on top, but the noodles seemed tender, so she removed the foil and let it brown until it looked more appetizing.
Then let it stand half-covered for 15 minutes so it would set up, instead of acting like molten lava when you tried to cut it.You know, it was not bad. The noodles are now gone, pleasing our thrifty souls; and there was enough left over for a lunch portion for the future. But for all that effort, we'd rather make (and eat) Nanny's eggplant parmigiana any day.