Sunday, July 20, 2008
Is it Spagana or Laghetti? You decide
We spent the weekend in Payson with my very, very best friend in the whole world, and her husband and young son. We had such a great time, and getting out of the heat was magnificent. It rained most of the time, but a chilly rain that was a welcome relief. My daughter took this photo on a walk one afternoon. I have no idea what it is, but it was so beautiful and elegant. I just wanted to take it home with me. Perhaps I can plant one if I find out what it is. Anybody know?
When I got home, I was in the mood to cook. I've been craving lasagna for a long time. I used to eat it just once a year, usually when the bug hit me around Christmas time when comfort food hits the spot. But lately, since I haven't had it for years, the bug has hit me extra hard...which means I've been experimenting with all kinds of tasty, and not-so-tasty, ways to prepare it gluten free.
One attempt was found in a cookbook and I thought it sounded great. Instead of using pasta, you just use a thin layer of potatoes instead. Sounds great, right? Well...I did something wrong and after cooking it for more than two hours, the potatoes were still raw inside. I now know that the potatoes should be pre-cooked, but at the time, I figured they would cook with all that moisture in there, wouldn't you think? Well, I'm here to tell you--they don't. But, I knew I was on to something because my daughter and her friends stood in the kitchen with forks, picking away at the pan to eat the cheese and sauce. They loved it, except of course for the uncooked spuds inside.
My latest experiment is a big success. I decided today to give this another try, but I realized that pasta is my best bet. But since I don't have gf lasagna noodles, I decided to use my favorite gf pasta from Trader Joe's. I still believe that TJ's brown rice pasta is the best I've tried. And I've tried many kinds, even the more expensive versions, and they don't taste too great and they get too mushy too fast.
Anyway, it turned out fabulous! Layering the creamy ricotta cheese and tomato sauce with cooked spaghetti noodles. I suppose it's baked spaghetti, but to me, it's heaven. And to my daughter, and to my ultimate surprise--my husband--it was the lasagna that we've been missing. My daughter and I had two helpings, and my husband, who never eats my GF creations on principle, ate a huge piece for dinner. Now that's a compliment. Since I eat GF and vegetarian, and he doesn't like veggies and prefers a burger, this was a surprise.
It's actually a little less heavy than traditional lasagna since the spaghetti gets a little more air in it. And I used just two layers of pasta. Yum... Try it yourself and let me know. I'm going to try and make a vegetable lasagna next time. I'll let you know how that turns out.
Spagana/Laghette using Trader Joe's brown rice spaghetti
1 package TJ's brown rice spaghetti
2 cups spaghetti sauce (use your own, or store-bought gf sauce)
2 8 oz packages gf ricotta cheese
1 cup mozzarella cheese (shredded)
1/4 cup shredded Romano cheese
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried basil
Preheat oven to 375 degree. Spray a lasagna pan and set aside.
1. Cook pasta as directed on package. Remove from water just a minute or two before they are done since they'll cook more in the oven. Very al dente...
2. Rinse pasta with cold water for a second.
3. Mix ricotta cheese with Romano cheese, garlic, basil, salt and pepper.
4. Assemble the lasagna as follows:
* Put a little tomato sauce on the bottom of the pan to keep it from sticking.
* Next place a layer of spaghetting (about 1/2) in the pan.
* Place a little less than 1/2 of the ricotta in the pan over the spaghetti.
* Sprinkle 1/2 of the mozzarella over the top.
* Place more sauce over the cheese to cover.
* Place the rest of the pasta on top and spread evenly to cover.
* Place the rest of the ricotta dotted on top of the sauce.
* Place the rest of the sauce over the top and spread evenly, making sure no spaghetti is uncovered.
* Cover the top with the rest of the mozzarella.
5. Bake for 35 minutes with a foil tent to keep the cheese from burning.
6. Remove foil and bake another 10 minutes.
7. Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes to set.