Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Gluten-Free Lasagna: Worth the work!

I was so excited to make my husband's favorite meal last weekend but forgot how much work it can be!  Definitely worth the effort though, because this dish was truly delicious and fulfilling, despite my error on the no-boil GF noodles!

I usually use the DeBoles no-boil GF lasagna noodles but they tend to be broken in the box and are pretty brittle.  I heard of a trick where you soak the noodles briefly in water prior to layering them in the casserole dish.  However I wound up soaking them too long resulting in a messy pot of broken noodles.  After careful work, we were able to lift each part of the noodle out of the pan and layer it in the dish as the recipe calls for this.

My lesson learned from this experience is that the noodles are the least important part of the dish...they cook beautifully in the oven and as long as your cheese/sauce come out good, it's a hit!  Recipe below:


Tomato-Meat Sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion , chopped fine (about 1 cup)
6 medium cloves garlic , pressed through garlic press or minced (about 2 tablespoons)
1 pound meatloaf mix or 1/3 pound each ground beef chuck, ground veal, and ground pork (see note)
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 can (28 ounces) tomato puree
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes , drained

Ricotta, Mozzarella, and Pasta Layers
15 ounces ricotta cheese (whole milk or part skim), 1 3/4 cups)
2 1/2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (1 1/4 cups)
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1 large egg , lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 box no-boil GF lasagna noodles (DeBoles is a great choice)
16 ounces whole milk mozzarella , shredded (4 cups)

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Heat oil in large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking, about 2 minutes; add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and add ground meats, salt, and pepper; cook, breaking meat into small pieces with wooden spoon, until meat loses its raw color but has not browned, about 4 minutes. Add cream and simmer, stirring occasionally, until liquid evaporates and only fat remains, about 4 minutes. Add pureed and drained diced tomatoes and bring to simmer; reduce heat to low and simmer slowly until flavors are blended, about 3 minutes; set sauce aside. (Sauce can be cooled, covered, and refrigerated for up to 2 days; reheat before assembling lasagna.)

3. Mix ricotta, 1 cup Parmesan, basil, egg, salt, and pepper in medium bowl with fork until well-combined and creamy; set aside.

4. Soak the GF no-boil noodles in water in the casserole dish for 3-4 minutes.  Remove noodles when they are soft enough to layer.  Please note they make stick together and begin to crumble if left too long in water.  May be best to lay them all out on a plate prior to layering in casserole dish.

5. Coat the bottom of a casserole dish with 1/4 cup of sauce.  Assemble first layer of noodles (you may need to break into pieces to cover the dish as GF noodles are thinner than others.) Add a tablespoon of the ricotta mixture throughout the the dish (approximately three scoops on each row).  Cover with shredded mozzarella, and then cover with meat sauce.

6. Repeat layering of noodles, ricotta, mozzarella, and sauce two more times. Place 3 remaining noodles on top of sauce, spread remaining sauce over noodles, sprinkle with remaining cup mozzarella, then with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan. Lightly spray a large sheet of foil with nonstick cooking spray and cover lasagna. Bake 15 minutes, then remove foil. Return lasagna to oven and continue to bake until cheese is spotty brown and sauce is bubbling, about 25- 40 minutes longer or until you see the cheese browned on top. Cool lasagna about 10 minutes; cut into pieces and serve.

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