Filed under: Main Course, Soups | Tags: Lasagna, Parmigiano-Reggiano, tortellini
Once again my husband was away on business and I’ve mentioned before that when he’s gone I take the opportunity to try a recipe that I know he would not want to try. When I saw this recipe for lasanga soup by Liz on Blog is the New Black, I knew I had to try it! I did want to make it for my husband as well, after all, lasagna is one of his favorite meals, but when I mentioned it to him, I think his exact words were, “Don’t go messing up something that’s already good. If you want to make lasagna, make lasagna. If you want to make soup, make soup, but please don’t try to mix them.” Well, he missed out because it was soooo good.
I took a bit of a short cut by using store bought stuffed tortellini, but it was worth it. I suppose every country/region has their take on other international cuisines. Like, if you get Chinese food from the States, it may not taste like what you would get in China. Well, I have to admit, I’m not a big fan of the Italian food here. Now, I could eat buckets of hummus all day long, but the pizzas and pastas aren’t usually to my liking. Beef pepperoni just isn’t the same. But there is one grocery store that carries lots of European brands and they have a great cheese and fresh pasta counter. So, long story short, that’s why I used the store, bought tortellini, because it was the good stuff.
I also made a bit of a mistake in cooking my stew. You see, it was supposed to be a soup, but I put it in the electric pressure cooker for too long because it got very thick and the parmesan rind I threw in for extra flavor still had a bit of cheese on it and it stuck to the bottom and burned. At first I thought I’d have to toss it and order kabobs (for the fifth time this week) but when I tasted it, it was rich and the burned cheese was just like the crispy brown cheese on top of lasagna. It was a mistake I was glad I made! The stew was like if a hearty tomato soup and lasagna had a love child, this would have been said child.
After two bowls (what, I had no one to share it with, my husband was gone and my kids were already in bed by the time I sat down to eat) I decided that I would make this again for my husband, but just not tell him it’s Lasagna Stew, so then he will eat it (and I know love it too!) This was a great make ahead meal because you let the soup base simmer for hours (or one hour if you used an electric pressure cooker like me) and then throw in the tortellini at the end and it was so much easier than all of the work of lasagna, but still had the entire flavor.
4 cups chicken stock
8 oz. tomato sauce
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 parmesan rind
1 10 oz package ricotta and spinach tortellini
Combine the first five ingredients in a heavy bottomed pot or electric pressure cooker. Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmering. Allow soup to simmer, covered, for 4-5 hours in a pot, one hour in the pressure cooker. Right before serving, remove the parmesan rind and add the tortellini. If you didn’t already make my mistake, add some freshly grated parmesan cheese to the top of each bowl and brown the cheese under the broiler.
p.s. one of these days, I will actually be able to post this on a Monday, but life happens 🙂
Filed under: Main Course | Tags: Italian sausage, Lasagna, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Ricotta, Tomato sauce
I mentioned in my previous post that this weekend is my husband’s birthday. I asked him weeks ago what he wanted me to make, and I shouldn’t have been surprised by his request: lasagna and a lemon cake with chocolate frosting. Ordinarily, this is a simple request. I should have known after the last three months in our host country that I wouldn’t be able to make a quick trip to the grocery store to get all the ingredients. It took me 6 trips to 5 different stores to get everything I needed. First, it started with the pork sausage. In the States, getting pork sausage, of many varieties is no big deal. In a country where most of its residents don’t eat pork…..let’s just say it was tricky. I tried 3 different kinds, from three different stores and still wasn’t totally satisfied. Oh, and then there was the cheese. Two stores looked at me like I was crazy when I asked if they carried ricotta. When I did find it, the price was staggering, but what is money when it comes to love?
However, once I finally got everything together, my little sous chefs and I had a nice morning putting together the lasagna. If nothing else, it was a labor of love.
I did have grand plans for the cake. My husband asks for a lemon cake with chocolate frosting every year, as it was what his mother made for him as a child. I was going to make the best lemony layer cake with rich butter cream frosting. But that darn lasagna took so much out of me, that I just didn’t have the energy. As much as I love to cook and spend time in the kitchen, I didn’t want to spend the whole day devoted to this meal and neglecting the birthday boy. So once I got the lasagna in the oven, I thought, I’ll just dress up a box cake mix. Of course, that was easier said than done. Three trips to two stores to find a simple lemon cake mix and chocolate frosting. Needless to say, the cake fell way short of what I had envisioned, but my husband still enjoyed it and the effort that was put forth (I think!)
Manly, Meaty, Birthday Lasagna
1 pound Italian sausage, casings removed
4 cups tomato sauce (I used the same recipe from my chicken meatballs)
1 cup mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1/4 cup black olives
1 package oven ready lasagna noodles
14 oz. part skim ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded parmesan cheese, divided
1 tablespoon each basil, oregano, thyme
1 cup mozzarella cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brown and crumble the sausage over medium high heat. Drain grease and stir in tomato sauce, mushrooms and olives.
In a bowl, mix ricotta, parmesan, herbs, and egg. Add salt and pepper to taste.
To assemble the lasagna: place a small layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of lasagna pan. Add an even layer of noodles. Spread a thick layer of tomato and sausage. Add another even layer of noodles. Spread cheese mixture, then noodles. Repeat until all the sauce and cheese are used. Top with mozzarella cheese and parmesan.
Cover and bake 45 minutes, or until lasagna is set. Remove cover and bake an additional 15 minutes, or until cheese on top is browned and slightly crispy.
Remove the lasagna from the oven and rest for 15 minutes before serving.