Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Day 129: Fresh Mozzarella

Workouts. . .
30 min. run (hooray!), plus 40 min. walk with the dog

I am pleased to announce the end of my lethargy (note the above-logged run). I went pretty far, and I didn’t die. I had to remind myself that it has only been a week, but still. I felt plenty slow and started panting earlier than I like. So today I loaded this “Lollipop” song from Mika onto my iPod and I am totally motivated. Also, I had movies to grab at the library and, barring rain, I will attempt to ride my bike. It’s a whole mile.

So I made a special dinner today, for really no reason, but I was inspired by a fantastic deal I found at Sam’s Club. Those little tubs of fresh mozzarella, swimming in their own chemical juices, are usually $5 for 4 ounces at the grocery. Well, at Sam’s last week, I scored 10 oz for $5, so I decided to go all out and make a “real” lasagna with old-school ingredients. As lasagna’s usually go, it doesn’t look like a model, but it tastes grand. I tried not to pick the gooey cheese off the top, and used my walk with Poppy to rein myself in from seconds. It worked!

Spinach Lasagna with Fresh Mozzarella
6 oz. fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
1/4 c. grated parmesan
16 oz marinara sauce
4 oz tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz ricotta cheese
1 egg
salt & pepper
4 T basil, minced
4 cups spinach, chopped
8 sheets of no-bake lasagna noodles

Use an 8” square lasagna dish to assemble this, and you should be right on for the amount of ingredients I’ve given here. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray the baking dish with nonstick stuff. (If you have extra time, you can actually double the amount of spinach by wilting 6 or 8 cups of chopped spinach with the minced garlic in a frying pan with a teaspoon of olive oil. It gets the flavors extra strong and makes the spinach nice and dark, same as if you’d used frozen. If you don’t have extra time, like me, skip this and read on. . . ) Mix the marinara with tomato paste and garlic in a small bowl. In a second bowl, whisk the egg to break, then add ricotta, salt & pepper to taste, and the basil. Mix well. Drop a spoonful of marinara on the bottom of your baking dish and spread around (this keeps the pasta sheet on the bottom from burning). Layer two sheets of pasta over the sauce, dollop with ricotta mix and spread evenly. Sprinkle spinach (or wilted spinach mixture) over the ricotta, then spoon marinara on top. Spread a layer of sliced mozzarella across the sauce. Add two more pasta sheets and press slightly to compress the first layer. Continue to build the lasagna in this sequence until you have four layers. Make sure to leave enough mozzarella to cover the top well, then sprinkle the whole thing with the parmesan cheese. Bake for 45 minutes, or until bubbly at the sides with browned cheese on the top.

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