Buongiorno everyone! Your favorite Italian blogger is here and I have a recipe for you that will help make your quarantine Sunday so much more enjoyable. Growing up in my house, Sunday was a big day of eating, fresh Italian bread, cutlets, gravy and deserts from the best bakery in upstate New York, Bella Napoli and to top it all off, Frank Sinatra and Jimmy Roselli on the record player. The best part about those days was that I learned to cook at a very young age, no recipes, no writing it down, you learned by matching and slowly you would begin to catch on and learn how to make the variety of Italian food that would grace our dinner table every Sunday.
In today’s edition of quarantine cooking, I am going to give you guys my recipe and a little insight into making the perfect Sunday gravy and lasagna for you and your quarantine crew.
First up is the sauce, otherwise known as the gravy. You are going to want to get two cans of crushed tomatoes, one can of tomato paste, onion, garlic, olive oil, grated cheese and seasonings that most will have in their spice rack or kitchen closet. You will need a generous size sauce pot, add olive oil to coat the bottom of the pot and turn the heat on low. While the oil is heating up, finely chop garlic and onion and fry it up once the oil comes to a boil, do not let it burn, you are looking for a yellow/brown coloring. When that gets fried up, add your tomato paste to the hot oil and let it dissolve, once that has occurred you can add your two cans of crushed tomatoes. Continue cooking on low, and stir your sauce, not letting the sauce stick, this is important, never let the sauce stick, you are going to want to let this sauce breath and cook for a while, after about 45 seconds of stirring the sauce you will want to add garlic powder, parsley, pepper, salt and a dash of grated cheese, season to your own liking. I know a lot of people add some red wine and some sugar, I do not, nothing wrong with it, every Italian has their own way of making gravy. Let this sauce cook for a 3-4 hours, again, do not let it stick and if you have meatballs and sausage that you cooked up, add it to the sauce and let it cook in the sauce all day, nothing better. Making sauce is so simple and so delicious, if you are buying sauce out of a jar, I feel sorry for you, no need to do that, take the time to make the sauce and you can freeze what’s leftover or use it for a pizza or a pasta dish the next day or two.
Moving onto lasagna. I shiver at the thought of people who buy the ready baked lasagna, I can’t allow that, if you aren’t going to make your own pasta then please buy the lasagna and boil it, it tastes so much better. For a tray of lasagna get one pack of lasagna, ricotta cheese, sour cream, grated cheese, shredded mozzarella, salt, pepper, parsley and one pack of spicy Italian sausage. Let the debate begin, what meat do you put into lasagna, for me, it’s always spicy sausage, i think the ground beef is a non traditional Italian way of making lasagna, I am for the combo of the beef and sausage but it cannot just be beef. The sausage is easy to cook up, get a large frying pan, coat with cooking spray and brown the sausage and while it is cooking, chop it up with a metal spatula so that the sausage is in little pieces, when it is browned, you want to remove from the pan and place on a plate with paper towels to soak up the oil from the fats, too much oil in the lasagna can be a downer.
Making the mixture is simple, add a generous portion of ricotta, with sour cream, grated cheese, salt, pepper and parsley and a dash of garlic powder and mix together. Again, season to your taste, try it as you go along so you know what to add. Once it is mixed, place into the refrigerator to get chilled. At any time, place your lasagna into a pot with boiling water, add some salt and get those cooked up, drain into a strainer and let cool for a little bit.
Now, let’s form our tray of delicious lasagna. Coat the bottom of the pan with sauce, then lay your lasagna down and coat with the ricotta mixture, add sausage on top and then apply more sauce over the top, sprinkle shredded mozzarella on top and repeat the process until you get to the top of the tray a.k.a. the last layer. When you get to the last layer, you want to seal it up with the lasagna and add only sauce and shredded cheese, creating a cheesy top of the tray. Set your oven to 375 and cook until the cheese is melted or begins to brown and boil, whatever you prefer.
Pair this dish with a salad, green beans or asparagus and add some Italian bread with cut fresh cheese, oil and balsamic vinaigrette mixture and peppers as an appetizer. Enjoy!