About this project
This meatless version of a traditional lasagna recipe** is completely and totally mine. I started with the Betty Crocker Cookbook meat lasagna in 1988 and ended up with this 20 years later.
**It's really less of a recipe than a list of my secrets. It's meant for people who have more than a passing familiarity with their kitchen - new cooks might be frustrated by the vagueness of my directions.
- Reasonably Priced
STEP ONE: THE SAUCE
Use whole, peeled italian tomatoes (and get rid of as many seeds as you can while preserving the juice). Blend to chunky consistency with a hand blender. Add organic "strained" tomatoes. USE NO TOMATO SAUCE OR PASTE. I use fresh garlic & basil (I prefer not to use onion) and dried organic oregano & a spicy italian herb mix. I add salt only about an hour before it has reached the desired consistency.
My biggest "secret" is Guinness. I used to use wine, but it's too acidic when mixed with the tomatoes. I tried other beers, but Guinness gives the sauce a certain body and "heft" you can't get with regular beer and that is missing in a lot of meatless lasagnas. Depending on the size of the batch, I use 1 to 2 bottles (about a bottle per big-ass lasagna).
Cook that sauce down, uncovered, all day today and all day tomorrow, stirring at regular intervals (refrig overnight) until it has a nice thick, pizza sauce consistency. Let sauce cool before assembling casserole.
STEP 2: CASSEROLE INGREDIENTS & ASSEMBLY
Use the freshest ingredients you can find. I purchase all of my canned goods, cheese (ricotta and mozzerella - the super squishy balls) and pasta at Mama Ann's Deli in Folsom, California (there's another in El Dorado Hills). There are great Italian delis all over the place (even in Oxford, UK when I was there in the 80s!) Find your local Italian Mama & Papa store!
Don't overcook the pasta - leave it a little more than al dente (just cooked enough to be flexible) since it will finish cooking and soak up extra liquid in the sauce when you bake it. For pasta that calls for 9 min, I usually cook it for 6.
STEP 3: COOK
Assemble and bake @ 375 for about 30 minutes the day BEFORE you want to serve (another of my secrets). Cool, wrap loosely in foil & refrig for about 24 hours. Bake 30 min @ 375 with foil. Remove foil and bake 25-40 minutes until top has achieved your desired crispiness.
Oh, and watch out for the inevitable carb coma.