Saturday, February 26, 2011

A Tale of Two Lasagnas

It was the best of lasagnas, it was the worst of lasagnas.  In all honesty, it’s not really fair to call a lasagna bad when it wasn’t even really a lasagna. If you take out all the cheese, what is it? Probably not a lasagna. Probably something more like baked ziti. 

My cousin and her family stopped by our house for the weekend on a whirlwind winter break “visit the relatives” tour. So I decided to make lasagna. It would be easy. The kids would probably eat it. Since I didn’t want to subject my loved ones, especially young children, to the world of GF cooking, I did something I haven’t done in years: I cooked against my diet.

I sent Eric to the store for cheeses and real lasagna noodles chock full of processed wheat. Sweetheart that he is, he drove all the way to Mustard Seed to buy some fake mozzarella cheese for my own lasagna, which he encouraged me to try for my blog.

It was the fake mozzarella that was my undoing. I had planned on making something else for myself, like spaghetti with meat sauce from the lasagna mixture. That would have been safe. That would have been simple. But Eric encouraged me not only to try to make the lasagna, but also to make my own lasagna noodles with the pasta maker Hilarie bought me for my birthday. I’d had tremendous success making stuffed ravioli last weekend. I should have blogged about that. That would have saved me from trying to make GF DF lasagna in a hurry while vacuuming and doing the laundry.

My lasagna maker must be pretty spoiled, because it only cooks well when I pay attention to it. It knew I was busy cleaning and not giving it the proper amount of love, so it produced a less-than-satisfactory noodle. I could have worked on adjusting the consistency by adding more flour or more water, but I just didn’t have time, so I laid the thin, stringy sheets of pasta over the tomato sauce anyway. When it came out of the oven, I couldn’t even find the pasta. The sheets had actually baked into the meat/veggie mixture and had disappeared.

It wasn’t bad, but it really wasn’t that good. I think that it would have been much, much better without the cheeze.

Eric tasted a mouthful of his real lasagna. I asked him how it was, even though I knew the answer.

He paused. "Now, this isn't a comment on your cooking," he said, looking down at his plate. "Or your gluten-free lifestyle. But it's really, really good."

Next time, no cheeze.

There's only one recipe posted because it's the only one worth cooking again. I didn’t have any recipes for real lasagna anymore, so I re-adapted a GF recipe from Gluten-Free Quick & Easy: From Prep to Plate Without the Fuss - 200+ Recipes for People with Food Sensitivities to be non GF, which was pretty easy because I only had to change the noodles back to regular ones, then added some veggies to make it at least a little bit healthy. 

Lasagna (for people without dietary restrictions)

1 lb. turkey
8 oz. mozzarella cheese
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 large tub of small curd cottage cheese
1 egg
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
2 medium zucchinis
1 white onion
1 jar spaghetti sauce
lasagna noodles   

Cook the turkey until browned. Blend the vegetables in a food processor in batches. Add to turkey mixture.

In a separate bowl, stir the ½ cup of the mozzarella, the other cheeses and egg together.

Grease a 9X11 baking dish. Spread some of the marinara sauce on the bottom to cover it. Lay the noodles on the bottom, then the beef mexture, then the cottage cheese mixture. Add another noodle layer. Keep layering until you don’t have any more to add. Cover the top with mozzarella cheese. Bake, covered, about 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 15-20 minutes, or until cheese is browned.

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