Mushroom, Turkey and Hot Italian Sausage Lasagna, lactose-free

Lasagna is such a great dish for a dinner party – throw it in the oven before the guests arrive and you’ve got time to do a few last-minute things, and then sit down and relax a little while dinner cooks.

This recipe can be made lactose-free or lactose-full, depending on which way you lean.  For me soy and lactose-free cheese are revolutionary.  For cheesy/dairy people, just substitute with the real thing.  One product I never use is soy cheese; they don’t taste very good, and they stick to your teeth like melted plastic might.  Ick!  Instead I use lactose-free L’Ancetre cheeses, which tastes fabulous!

What you need:

1 recipe homemade pasta OR store-bought lasagna noodles

1 recipe Turkey & Hot Italian Sausage Tomato Sauce

1 recipe mushroom cream sauce

2-3 cups mozzarella cheese

What you do:

You have prepared all of your ingredients, and are now ready to put the lasagna together!  I used a 9×11 deep-dish pan for this recipe.  My homemade noodles were quite thin, so I was able to do 4 layers of pasta; if you are using store-bought noodles you might not be able to fit that many layer into your pan.  If this is the case you could assemble it in two pans, or save the extra sauce for another use.  (You can use the mushrooms to stuff some crepes!  And the tomato sauce could be served over pasta!)

1.  Spread a little tomato sauce on the bottom of the pan, about 1/3 of it.

2.  Lay out the noodles on top of the sauce.  If you are using homemade pasta you don’t need to cook it first.

3.  Now add a layer of the mushroom sauce, about half of it, then put some more noodles on top.  (Or, if you’re really into your cheese, you can add some extra mozzarella on top of the mushroom sauce.)

4.  Add another third of the tomato sauce, then more noodles.

5.  Now add the remaining mushroom sauce, then another layer of noodles.

6.  Final layer: the last of the tomato sauce.  The mozzarella cheese will go on half way through the baking.

So now you’ve got:

tomato, noodle, mushroom

noodle, tomato, noodle,

mushroom, noodle, tomato

7.  Cover the lasagna with foil and bake for 30 minutes at 350F.

8.  Remove the foil and sprinkle on the cheese.  Bake for another 30 minutes, then check to see if it has browned.  If not, then pop on the broiler for a minute, watching carefully so it doesn’t burn, until it’s browning and bubbly.

9.  Remove the lasagna from the oven and let it rest for about 20 minutes before cutting.  Letting it rest helps the pieces will stay together when you serve them.

Butternut Squash and Roasted Garlic Ravioli or deconstructed ravioli

I was so excited to use my pasta machine and ravioli press, so I came up with this recipe for the filling.  I’m in love with the filling!  But. . .

In the end I realized that I’m not very good at rolling the pasta into rectangles, and that it’s hard to seal the ravioli properly.  So I ended up with a few tortellini that lost their filling.  After making a bunch of difficult and misshapen ravioli I gave up and made a sort of deconstructed ravioli dish – I just put some hot filling on the plate, then topped it with some long strands of pasta, salt and pepper and a bit of butter.  Same amazing flavour, way less work!  You could just make the filling and use some store-bought pasta – much much simpler!

What you need:

1 recipe of homemade pasta

1 smallish butternut squash

sage

3 cloves garlic

optional: a splash of brandy

salt and pepper

butter or olive oil

What you do:

1.  Prepare pasta dough ahead of time; if you refrigerated it, make sure it come out of the fridge at least an hour before you want to roll it so it’s not too firm.

2.  Cut the squash in half and remove seeds.  Place cut side down on a baking pan.  Bake at 375F for 40-45 minutes. Wrap the garlic, in their papery covers, in a small piece of tin foil and place on the same baking sheet.

3.  Test for doneness by inserting a sharp knife into the flesh of the squash, at the thickest part.  If it goes in easily, the squash is done.

4.  Allow squash to cool before making the filling.  Then scoop it out into a bowl and mix in the garlic with a fork, along with a crumbling of sage and some salt and pepper and the optional brandy.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  They will vary according to the size of the squash and your preference.  I could eat a bowl of the filling alone – it’s soooo good!

5.  With a large pot of water on to boil, roll out the dough.  If you have a machine set it to the thinnest possible.  When you have rectangular shapes, place on top of ravioli press and add a dollop of filling.  Place the top layer of dough on it, and press the shapes out.

6.  If you can’t cook the pasta right away, place a cloth on top to keep it from drying out.  Add the pasta to a large pot of boiling water and cook for only a few minutes.

7.  Drain pasta, then plate it and drizzle a little olive oil on top (or a little butter) and some freshly cracked pepper and salt.  Enjoy!

Homemade Pasta

This is a basic pasta recipe that you can use for lasagna, ravioli, spaghetti, and any number of other noodle types.

What you need:

3 cups all-purpose flour

4 large eggs

1 teaspoon salt

up to 4 tablespoon water

What you do:

1.  Place the flour mixed with salt on the clean counter and make a well in the centre.

2.  Add the eggs to the well and mix them up with the fork.  Gradually incorporate some of the flour into the egg until it is combined.  Add a little water at a time as needed.  The dough should not be so sticky that it sticks to the counter, but you should be able to form it into a ball.  Knead for 7-8 minutes.

3.  Let the dough rest under a bowl for about an hour.  Alternately, you can refrigerate it, removing it from the fridge about an hour before you need it so it’s not too firm.

4.  Roll the dough using a pasta machine or rolling-pin and cut into your desired shapes.  If you’re not going to cook it right away, place a towel over the top of the pasta.

5.  Use a large pot to boil water to cook the pasta – it doesn’t need very long, only a minute or two for the thinnest pasta.  Lasagna noodles don’t need to be cooked before assembling your dish.

6.  Dry extra pasta by draping over a coat hook for a few days.