This meal was just pure fun. Creativity, experimentation, flavor explosions all rolled up into one delicious birthday celebration.
My youngest nephew was celebrating his first birthday, so I offered to help my sister-in-law with the celebratory meal. She decided to serve a meat lasagna and a vegetarian lasagna. I found some recipes and viola! A fabulous meal!
The most intense and amazing dish on the menu was the 1,000 Layer Lasagna (thanks 101 Cookbooks!). This dish contains many layers of the thinest fresh pasta with a kiss of perfectly seasoned tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. The sauce and the cheese, I can handle. The fresh pasta was a challenge.
My plan was to purchase fresh pasta and then roll it out to be super thin. I went to several grocery and specialty stores in my area (one, Local D'Lish, even called around for me!). But alas. I found plenty of frozen fresh pasta, but none that I could roll out thinner. This unfortunate set-back became the perfect excuse to purchase a pasta maker! I was so excited I could hardly contain myself.
Making pasta isn't all that difficult, but it is time consuming. It took me 15 minutes to make the dough and 1 hour to roll it out. I began rolling it out on the widest setting and incrementally made it thinner until I reached the thinnest setting. The pieces got really long! So, I had to cut them into smaller pieces to make them more manageable. By the time I was done, my sister-in-law's kitchen was covered in thin sheets of fresh pasta.
Once the pasta sheets had dried enough to not stick to each other too badly, I cut them into 4 inch squares and cooked them for just 20 seconds in salted, boiling water. Once they were cooked, I dipped them into cold water that had some olive oil in it and laid them out on a towel where they sat until I was ready to assemble the lasagna.
I added chunks of goat cheese since we had some leftover from the Roasted Pear Salad. The tangy flavor was nice, but not necessary.
I loved the texture of the tender layers of pasta, but my lasagna needed more sauce and cheese. When I make this again, I will double both the sauce and cheese amounts while leaving the noodle amount the same. Because this lasagna is all about the noodles, keeping the cheese simple is important. I was tempted to add some ricotta and other cheeses, but I'm glad I didn't. The mozzarella was perfect in its simplicity.
How did this lasagna stand up to the World's Best Lasagna (meat version)? The noodles were the star of the show (next to the birthday boy, of course!). Next time, we'll use them in both versions.
Labels: Cheese, Pasta, Tomato