Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Lasagna, pig style.

A few years ago, back when we had just started living together, Hubby-then-boyfriend decided to buy a pig. Well, a third of a pig, to be exact. This was at the tale-end (tail-end?) of my semi-vegetarianism, so this was absolutely not my idea—I'm pretty sure the convo went something like this:

Boyfriend: So, my dad wants to buy a pig from the fair this year, and I think we should go in on it with him.
Pammy: eat?
BF: well, yeah. We'd split it with him and a friend.
Pammy:'d split it. You do realize I don't eat pig...
BF: Oh, you'll eat this. Fresh pork is different...
Pammy: (roll-eyed smell-poo face)

He was right, of course, I ate it—but it wasn't for the was out of absolute necessity, seeing that a third of a pig is approximately 6 million pounds of meat. In my freezer. Leaving zero room for ANYTHING else.

It's...interesting. You pick a pig, they load it on a truck, and it comes back to you in about 68 wrapped parcels, with everything from chops to sausage (plain and Italian seasoned!) to bacon to ribs to rump roasts. So we got creative looking for ways to get me to eat some. (He ate most of it like some sort of caveman, but I still had to help.) And I still don't love pig, let's be clear here. But I'll eat pork chops now, and I do have him and that damn pig to thank/blame for that.

The point, however, is that the best creation was the Italian sausage and veggie lasagna we came up with one night. Seriously, it's fantastic. And it popped into my head for some reason when my girlfriend Dr. N. (our first official Docta in the 'family'!) asked me to show her how to cook something new this weekend.

I think she was surprised by how easy this was...yeah, it takes a little while to cook and to sit, but that's the most time consuming part. If you want to substitute ground Italian-seasoned turkey or plain sausage, go for it. We also used the no-cook lasagna noodles from Trader Joe's, which saved us from having to wash another pot. If you don't have those, cook lasagna noodles according to package directions-you'll want them a little undercooked so they don't get too soggy.

Oh, and hubby made the sauce. Lucky us! (and lucky you, cause he told me what he put in-recipe for that is below)

Sausage & Veggie Lasagna
1 package spicy Italian sausage, casings removed (about 6 sausages)
1 package sliced mushrooms (I used brown)
1 package frozen artichoke hearts
About a half cup frozen chopped spinach
One tub low-fat ricotta cheese
1 egg
1 package pre-shredded low-fat mozzarella (2 cups)
Prepared lasagna noodles
Hubby's Marinara (or about 6 cups of store bought)
Parsley and/or Parmesan, to top

Brown the sausage over medium high heat, breaking into chunks/pieces as you cook it. When it's close to cooked through, drain out the fat, and add the mushrooms. Cook a couple of minutes, then add the artichokes. When all is cooked through (about 5-10 minutes), remove from heat.

In a bowl, combine ricotta, egg, a dash of nutmeg, and some salt and pepper (is it too Rachael Ray to say S&P?). Add mozzarella, mix well.

In casserole dish, cover bottom with thin layer of sauce. Fit noodles across in a layer, overlapping if you need to to cover. Spread about 1/3 of the sausage mix across noodles. Spread 1/3 cheese mixture across that. Add another layer of noodles, then a layer of sauce. Repeat til gone-the layers should be*(bottom to top):
(*If it doesn't work out exactly, or you switch it up, it really doesn't matter. Don't stress about it)

If you use the no-bake noodles, let the thing sit at this point for about 20 minutes before continuing.

Cook at about 375-400 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until bubbly. Let sit about 15 minutes to cool before serving. Top with parsley or cheese.

Hubby's Marinara
This is still better when he makes it.

Olive oil
One onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
Large jar of plain marinara sauce
1 can tomato sauce
oregano to taste
basil to taste
red pepper flakes to taste
good pour red wine

Saute the onion and garlic in olive oil. Add remaining ingredients, bring to boil. Reduce and simmer for at least 45 minutes, more is fine.

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