10 February 2010

I ♥ ricotta

My cousin, Bridget, and I are both home in Taranaki for a few days, so last night went to our grandparents' to make them dinner.  Fran was interested to try a lasagne dish I'd talked about, using whatever fresh veges one can lay one's hands on and ricotta cheese.  I love this meal 'cause lasagne is always tasty and with ricotta it is sublime.  Using ricotta also has one further advantage - no faffing about with a béchamel sauce.  Happy days. 

I like to start by making my own pasta, if I've the time.  Otherwise dried/fresh from the supermarket is fine (Barilla is the best dried brand I've come across.  If you can find it, trust me, it beats the others hands down).  I use 1 egg for every 100g flour (about 3 eggs/300g flour is plenty for a lasagne).  Put flour onto large flat surface, make a well in centre and crack eggs into well.  With your fingers bring the flour into the eggs, from the outside.  Knead for 15 mins until dough is smooth and elastic.  Cover with clingfilm for 20 mins.  Roll out until sufficiently thin and put aside to use.  If too sticky, dust with a little flour.  I sometimes find I need to add a little olive oil, if getting too dry. 

olive oil
2 cloves garlic
onion, chopped
bacon (2+ rashers, optional), chopped into cm pieces
2 x 400g tins tomatoes
salt & pepper
2 zucchini
aubergine (eggplant) OR 6 portobello mushrooms OR 2 more zucchini
250g ricotta cheese
parmasan cheese

1. If using aubergine - slice and sprinkle both sides with salt.  Leave to sweat.  This takes away the bitterness.  Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees celcius. 
2. Once pasta is sorted make up the tomato sugo - heat olive oil in medium-sized pan and add garlic (don't chop them up, just put them in pan peeled, to flavour the oil).  Add chopped onion and cook slowly until soft and transparent.  Flavour with salt and pepper and add bacon (I will use more than 2 rashers, if I have it).  Add tomatoes and leave to simmer and bubble away until reduced and not too liquidy (you can leave this for a good hour, if the heat isn't too high). 
3. Slice zucchini into thin strips.  Cut aubergine slices into halves (if using portobello mushrooms, leave as is). 
4. Spoon a thin layer of sugo into base of lasagne dish, followed by pasta-veges-sugo-parmasan (not too much)-pasta-veges-sugo-ricotta.  This is a moveable feast, you can layer however you like, depending on how much you have of different things.  Grate layer of parmasan on top and finish with freshly-grated nutmeg. 
5. Cook for about a half hour.  I cook it until the top is golden and you can see the sauce bubbling around the edges.  Serve with a green salad.  This is a wicked meal and, if you remove the bacon, suitable for vegetarians too. 

I usually dress salads with a vinegrette, but Fran always has her homemade mayonnaise on tap, and it is REALLY yum.  So unfashionably hi-GI, but it's good and worth the indulgence.   

juice of 2-3 lemons
1/3 cup vinegar
tsp salt
tsp mustard powder
pinch curry powder
tin condensed milk

Mix all dry ingredients together.  Add lemon juice, stir.  Add vinegar, stir.  Add condensed milk and mix well.  Add milk until the mayonnaise is the consistency you want.  Refridgerate and, each time you use it, add a little milk if thickened too much. 


  1. It is so cool to have these recipes. How long does it take for the aubergine to sweat before it can be cooked/used?

  2. I usually sweat the slices for a half hour. If's it's very cool, place them somewhere warm.

  3. This lasagna is really wonderful - I cooked it with the mushrooms and next time, it will be with the aubergine. Thanks so much, Alana for putting these recipes here for us. :-)