Thursday, November 2, 2006

A Classic

This past Sunday for company dinner I chose an old reliable. There is nothing more classic or more homey than a pan of lasagne. Sauce, meat, cheeses, and sheets of noodles all layered together in the ultimate Italian inspired casserole. Lasagne can seem daunting to some people, but really, once you have the ingredients, it's easier than it seems. And one of these ingredients has gotten easier over time. The noodles.

I used to hate assembling lasagne specifically because of the noodles. I hated working with those long skinny curly-edged noodles. They never came out of the pot cooked and in one piece, and they would get sticky in-between layering. Just plain annoying to work with, and for me, they were a deterrent to making lasagne very often. Then one day I discovered that Barilla lasagne noodles needed no precooking. Ah! A savior to lasagne cooks everywhere!

These noodles are a different shape than the standard lasagne noodle. These are smaller and wider rectangles- and fit perfectly in a 9 x 13 pan. I mean, perfectly. And they don't' require pre-cooking. The only trick to them is to make sure that the edges overlap the tiniest bit. Otherwise, they make lasagne assembly a snap. It's so much easier to spread a creamy cheese blend on hard noodles, and the lasagne turns out perfectly every time. This time around, I actually followed the recipe on the back of the Barilla box, using Mario Batali's simple tomato sauce as amy sauce. I actually wouldn't use that sauce again for lasagne. It was a nice sauce, nice and light, and full of fresh flavor, but I think I like my lasage sauce to be more robust and hearty. Overall the lasagne was wonderful.

Another benefit to these noodles is that they are freezable. (No, I promise, there are no kickbacks from Barilla here.) You can assemble your lasagne and pop it into the freezer unbaked. The lasagne then needs to thaw for 24 hours in the fridge before baking, but what a thing to have on hand! A delicious homemade lasagne at the ready. This would make an excellent dish to prepare ahead of time for when you know company is coming. You can have it all prepared as far in advance as you want, and dinner is ready for your guests, while you spend time visiting with them. Gotta love that. Lasagne also has endless variations. You can change up the cheeses, add vegetables, change the meats from beef to turkey to sausage, there are endless possibilities to lasagne. A family favorite around here. And a big thank you to Barilla for sensing my endless frustration with the lasagne noodle.

1 comment:

Brilynn said...

Lasagna is such a comfort food.