Thursday, October 29, 2009

Lasagna and Oven Roasted Green Beans

Making dinner tonight was an accomplishment; I never thought I would get it done. Jacob was unreasonably grumpy, and I found myself trying to layer sauce, pasta, cheese, and vegetables while holding Jacob, pulling a string on his toy dog, and wearing a hard hat. Many times I gave up and left the kitchen holding a screaming, squirming toddler.

Mr. Grumpy Pants was not my only obstacle. I grabbed the box of lasagna noodles only to find four and a half noodles left. I needed six! Later, I pulled the foil from the box and only got a three inch sheet. How would I cover the 9x13" pan with that little sliver of foil? I improvised with an upside-down cookie sheet.

Finally, I managed to pull the lasagna together and get it in the oven. Jacob even helped me sprinkle on some mozzarella. Never mind that it had only four and a half noodles and was covered with an inverted cookie sheet instead of foil. We were on our way to having a delicious spicy-gross-mixture for dinner.

I made a variation of a lasagna recipe my mom has made for years (she found it on the internet before getting recipes off the internet was cool). The noodles do not have to be precooked: a small amount of water poured around the edge of the pan and a tight covering of foil ensure the noodles are cooked to perfection right in the pan.

I used lean, organic ground beef and cooked it with a small, diced onion. I also added two cooked and diced links of hot turkey sausage to the sauce, which was a nice twist. To add some extra vegetables, I included a layer of baby spinach and a layer of eggplant. (Art didn't notice the eggplant. So, if you are generally not a fan, don't be afraid to go ahead and add it.) The spinach cooked in the lasagna and needed no preparation. I peeled and thinly sliced a small eggplant. I sprinkled each piece with salt and pepper and sauteed in olive oil about 1 minute per side.
Instead of using store bought spaghetti sauce, I made my own.

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 oz tomato paste (put the other half of the can in a container and freeze for another use)
3 15oz cans tomato sauce
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

In a medium pot, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onion and stir until soft, 8-10 minutes. Add garlic and stir 1 minute. Add tomato paste and stir 1 minute. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Remove the bay leaf. I also use this sauce in other pasta dishes.

For a side dish, I roasted green beans in the oven. This has been our favorite side dish for a while.

green beans, washed and trimmed (snap off the ends)
drizzle of olive oil
pinch of salt and pepper

Lightly grease a metal pan. Spread beans in a single layer over pan and drizzle with oil. Shake to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake in oven preheated to whatever temperature the main dish is cooking- in this case, 375 degrees- until tender, about 20 minutes.

1 comment:

  1. I have to comment. This was probably the best lasagna I've ever had. The turkey sausage really added a lot, it was clear that the beef was of very high quality, and I didn't notice the eggplant at all (which was surprising because I like eggplant).

    I also have to say something about the green beans. First, they go well with everything. Second, they're a lot like a much healthier version of french fries. They have everything you want in a good fry with the added taste of olive oil and the sasifaction of knowing that they're much better for you.