So that pizza I made the other day without the dough...
...ya, allll that dough showed up here today.
There is a new show on TV called The Taste, all about the perfect bite. I had the pleasure of meeting one of the successful contestants on the show at a food blogging conference last year and even though we only shared a brief conversation over lunch one day, seeing her present her "one bite" to the greats such as Bordain & Nigella, I felt personally & genuinely proud for her success. It got me thinking, what would I make as my perfect bite?
Fast forward to late January, cold and rainy and basically the perfect petri dish for bold red wine comfort food. Sounds like pasta making to me. (why can't white flour pasta be a super food????)
So the math went like this: "Inspired by the Taste" + "Desire for comfort food" * "I like mini versions of things" = Individual & Bite Size Lasagna.
Sidebar to tell my (sorta) funny lasagna story. First time meeting Mr's parents, they have me over for dinner. A naive 20-something I was & unfamiliar with the whole primo/secondo courses of the Italians. Growing up in my culture, (exotic canadiana) lasagna WAS the meal. So I graciously accept the first offer of lasagna. And (of course only to be polite) accept a second. THEN, ma-in-law-to-be takes away the lasagna, and I am ready to start clearing plates but nooooo, because THEN the steak & ribs & 4 side dishes come out. Nice. Anyways....
Every time I make pasta I am reminded of how ridiculously easy it is. Seriously easy. Big ol' pile of flour. Make a hole. Add eggs. Maybe a pinch of salt. Done. Well, almost done. But really pretty much done. And lasagna is the ultimate in easy. Goodness, it's even only one attachment on the pasta maker. Saying I enjoy lasagna is kinda like saying "I like breathing, how about you?" Who doesn't enjoy the baked cheesy layers? You don't really know anyone who ever passes on it. Tomato or cream based, veggie or meat, lotsa layers or lotsa filling...everyone has their preference but no matter what the diet of your guests, you can probably accommodate it a lasagna.
The best part of this meal was that the worlds greatest gramma was my sous chef. My mom is a natural cook AND baker. It was super fun to be able to come up with this together. (not to mention having someone come behind you with a dish cloth and broom!) So we made two dishes here. I would so do this next time we are having friends (spoiler alert to my four readers of this blog) But you could easily make the bites for guests coming that night, and then save the individual lasagnas for the next days dinner. These were rolled with a spinach and ricotta mixture and just topped with homemade sauce and mozza, finished with parm and cracked pepper. I would add a little sauce into the layers next time and maybe a little more on top. Otherwise, wouldn't change a thing.
So the next time you want to eat a whole lasagna...
...go for it.
Fresh Pasta Lasagna: Individual & Bite Size
Tomato Sauce 2 Tbsp Olive Oil 1/2 white onion, chopped fine 2 garlic cloves, minced 1 large can of tomatoes, diced 1 Tbsp Agave 1 Tbsp dark balsamic vinegar 2 tsp salt 2 T dried oregano
Fresh Lasagna Sheets 1 and 1/2 cups of all purpose flour 2 large eggs plus one extra yolk, beaten 1/2 tsp salt 1 - 2 Tbsp of water
Ricotta Filling 1 and 1/2 cups of whole milk ricotta 1 pack of frozen spinach, thawed and copped (or 3 cups fresh, chopped, cooked and cooled) 1/2 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
Topping mozzarella & parmesan to preference (see end instructions)
1. In a heavy enameled cast iron pot or saucepan, heat the olive oil to med. Add chopped onion and garlic. Saute until on medium until onions are clear. 2. Add tomatoes, agave, vinegar salt and oregano. Stir, reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes.
Lasagna Sheets * There are a lot of instructions here, but its really simple. I suggest reading through all the instructions first just to get a feel for it. Again, wordy but really easy.
1. Fill a large pot of with water and generously salt (should taste like the ocean) Turn on high and have ready to cook noodles if you are cooking them right away. 2. On a clean counter top, measure out the flour. Make a little mountain and then hollow out the inside like a little bowl or cave or well. 3. Add the beaten eggs and salt into the well. Using your fingers, start incorporating bits of the flour into the egg mixture and working together until the dough starts to form. Now the next bits will be by feel. You will need to knead the mixture into a dough and add small (very small) amounts of water if its not holding together. Do not add the water too early. (if its too wet, you may need a titch of flour too) Give it some time to come together. I like the press and fold technique. Using the heel of my palm I press into the middle of the dough, turn it a couple inches, fold the outside in and again with the heel of my hand. Depending on your counter height you may want to stand on a small stool for leverage. Keep working the dough until it becomes smooth and elastic. 4. When the dough is the right consistency, put aside and let it rest under a clean tea towel for five minutes. While its resting you can set up your pasta roller and set the dial to the widest setting. 5. When you are ready to roll the dough, simply cut off a piece (about a third or a quarter of the dough) flatten out slightly with your hands so it will fit into the machine and begin rolling. On my machine, I go as thin as #8 (there are nine settings). Your call depending on how thick you like your pasta noodles. Once each strip is the desired thickness, drape over the back of a chair or lay out flat in preparation for cooking. 6. By now, your pasta water should be boiling. Beside the pot of water, set up two pans. One with cold water and ice (such as a large lasagna pan) and a cookie sheet that has been oiled with olive oil. Drop your noodles, a few at a time, into the boiling water for 2 minutes. Scoop them out and then drop them into the ice bath, then lay them out on the oiled cookie sheet. Repeat the process until all the sheets are cooked. You can pile them on top of each other if you are going to be rolling them within the hour and they should not stick to each other.
1. Put ricotta and spinach and nutmeg in a food processor and combine until smooth. Alternatively you can hand mix in a bowl for a bit more rustic texture.
The width of your sheets depends on if you are doing bite size or individual portions. Everything else is the same.
1. Using a knife or a pizza cutter, slice lasagna sheets to desired widths. 2. Spoon a thin layer of tomato sauce (very thin) followed by an equally thin layer of the ricotta mixture. 3. Roll the sheets to desired size. 2 and 1/2 times for bite size and maybe 4 to 6 times for individual size. 4. Bite Size: place each one on a parchment lined cookie sheet and top with a dollop of sauce and sprinkle of mozza. 5. Individual: Scoop a few spoons of sauce into the bottom of the individual pans, place the lasagna rolls in, top with more sauce and mozza cheese. 6. Bake for 10 - 15 minutes until cheese is brown and bubbly. 7. Top with parmesan cheese.