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Lazy lasagne.

LASAGNE AS A MAKE-AHEAD casserole is a long-time winner, but time consuming. We think you'll find it more fun--and more relaxing--to let your guests do the work. No need to worry about taste preferences or portion size; those decisions are made by each person while layering ingredients from the lasagne bar onto his or her own plate. The bar offers pasta, roasted and boiled vegetables, cheeses, meat, and an aromatic tomato sauce.

There's no baking of the lasagne, but you do need to provide a system for keeping most of its components hot, or a way to reheat the assembled lasagne right on the plate.

The challenge is easily met. Keep ingredients hot on electric warming trays, over hot water in chafing dishes, or in an oven at lowest setting.

Exceptions are the pasta and broccoli; they hold best unheated but, swished in hot water, warm quickly.

If you have a microwave oven, you can present all the elements cold and zap portions one at a time (about 3 minutes is adequate for a 2-cup-size serving). Stagger arrival times at the buffet so waiting is minimal.

The lasagne bar makes for dining at a leisurely, flexible pace, and is ideal for informal occasions when guests are apt to show up over a period of time, or when other diversions are scheduled, like a movie or game to watch on TV.

In addition to the following elements for lasagne, you will need about 4 1/2 pounds Italian turkey or pork sausage, crumbled, lightly browned, and drained (if cooked ahead, cover and chill up until next day); 10 cups cooked and chilled broccoli flowerets; and 3 cups grated parmesan cheese.

To reheat pasta and broccoli (if lasagne ingredients are hot), have a large pan of simmering water on the range or on a portable burner. Dunk pasta and broccoli, a portion at a time, in water for about 1/2 minute; use a skimmer ladle, a slotted spoon, or tongs to retrieve.

Round out the menu with crisp salad greens and a selection of dressings. Buy or make your favorite lemon cookies. Offer with coffee.

Lasagne Pasta

2 pounds dried lasagne, broken into 4 to 5-inch lengths

Half-fill a 10- to 12-quart pan with water. Cover and bring to boiling on high heat; add pasta. Cook uncovered, stirring often, until pasta is just tender to bite, 12 to 15 minutes. Drain, and immerse at once in cold water. Drain when cool. Serve or, if made ahead, cover airtight and chill up until the next day.

Present pasta in a large bowl. Reheat in a microwave over or in hot water as directed above. Makes enough for 20 servings.

Per serving: 168 cal.; 5.8 g proten; 0.7 g fat (0.1 g sat.); 34 g carbo.; 3.2 mg sodium; 0 mg chol.

Roasted Vegetables

16 large (about 4 lb. total) carrots, peeled and thinly sliced 4 large (about 2 1/2 lb. total) red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and cut into thin strips 4 large (about 1 3/4 lb. total) onions, thinly sliced 1 1/2 pounds mushrooms, rinsed and thinly sliced 1/3 cup balsamic or red wine vinegar 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or salad oil 1 cup regular-strength chicken broth

In 2 pans (10 to 12 by 15 in. each), divide carrots, peppers, onions, mushrooms, vinegar, and oil evenly; mix well. Roast uncovered in a 450[degrees] oven, stirring often with a wide spatula until vegetables are browned and browned bits stick to pan, 60 to 70 minutes. If using 1 oven, switch pan positions every 20 minutes.

Add 1/2 cup chicken broth to each pan; stir to scrape browned bits free. Roast until the liquid evaporates, stirring often, about 15 minutes more. Serve or, if made ahead, cool, cover airtight, and chill up to 2 days. Makes about 10 cups.

Per 1/2 cup: 88 cal.; 2.5 g protein; 2.8 g fat (0.4 g sat.); 15 g carbo.; 35 mg sodium; 0 mg chol.

Cheeses to Layers

5 1/3 cups (or 3 containers, 15 0z. each) part-skim ricotta cheese 3/4 pound jack or mozzarella cheese, shredded 1 cup (4 to 5 oz.) shredded parmesan cheese 1/2 cup regular-strength chicken broth

In a bowl, mix together ricotta, jack, and parmesan cheese, and broth. If made ahead, cover and chill up until next day. Use cold if warming individual servings of lasagne in a microwave oven (directions on preceding page). Or serve hot, heated by one of the following methods.

To heat in microwave oven, mix cheeses and broth in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat at half power (50 percent) for 3-minute intervals, stirring in between, until mixture is warm, 10 to 14 minutes.

To heat in the oven, mix cheeses and broth in a shallow 2- to 2 1/2-quart pan. Cover with foil and place in a 300[degrees] oven. Stir often until cheese is warm, about 25 minutes.

With either method, the cheese mixture separates and looks curdled if it gets too hot; however, it is still good to eat.

To serve the cheese mixture warm, set on a warming tray, or return, uncovered, to oven at lowest setting. Makes 7 1/2 cups.

Per 1/2 cup: 116 cal.; g protein; 7.8 g fat (2.7 g sat.); 2.4 g carbo.; 175 mg sodium; 26 mg chol.

Herbed Tomato Sauce

4 large cans (28 oz. each) Italian-style tomatoes 1 large can (12 oz.) tomato paste 1 cup dry red wine 1/4 cup minced fresh or 2 tablespoons dried basil leaves 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed 1 tablespoon minced fresh or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves 1 tablespoon minced fresh or 2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves

In a 5- to 6- quart pan, combine tomatoes and their liquid, tomato paste, red wine, basil garlic, rosemary, and oregano. Smash tomatoes into small chunks with a slotted spoon. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

Simmer gently, uncovered, until the sauce is reduced to 12 cups, about 45 minutes; stir occassionally. Serve, or cool, cover, and chill up to 2 days. Makes 12 cups.

Per 1/2 cup: 41 cal.; 1.9 g protein; 0.5 g fat (0.1 g sat.); 8.9 g carbo.; 328 mg sodium; 0 mg chol.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:includes recipes
Author:Weber, Christine B.
Date:Feb 1, 1992
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