Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Blue Ribbon Lasagna [Mike]

Rhonda and I were one of 12 couples in the South Salem gourmet dinner club. Each month, one couple would host a themed dinner party. The host couple was responsible for the main course. The 11 other couples would bring an appetizer, salad, or dessert. Tex-Mex night, Southern cooking, BBQ, etc. The one I liked best was a lasagna cook-off. Each couple had to bring their own favorite lasagna dish, which would be sampled and voted on. Since Italian food was my thing, I would do our entry. My main competition: Wayne Coluccini. This guy could cook. For several days before the big night, Wayne and I talked garbage. “My lasagna will destroy yours…” Well, I had a plan up my sleeve. I would make my mom’s traditional lasagna recipe, but add a special blended ingredient that would take it over the top.

• 2 cans of Progresso whole Italian tomatoes
• 1 can of Contadina tomato paste
• 1 lb. of Italian sausage, hot or sweet
• 1 lb. of ground beef
• 2 slices of Italian bread
• 1 egg
• 4 to 6 garlic cloves
• Italian virgin olive oil
• 24 ounces ricotta
• 1 box of Ronzoni lasagna pasta

In a mixing bowl, season the ricotta with salt and fresh ground pepper. Add a fresh egg, and several tablespoons of freshly grated parmesan cheese. Blend together.

• 2 cups fresh basil leaves
• ½ cup each olive oil, Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
• 2 tablespoons each pine nuts, Romano pecorino cheese, freshly grated
• 2 cloves crushed garlic
• 1-teaspoon salt
• 3 tablespoons softened butter

Mix basil, oil, pine nuts, garlic and salt in blender at high speed. When evenly blended, pour into bowl and beat in grated cheeses by hand. Then beat in softened butter.

When the lasagna has finished baking, add spoonfuls of pesto on the top layer.

I was voted best in show!

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