Weekend Cooking: Lasagna alla Mamma

Before I get into my recipe, I have to confess that I really tried to take my own photos this time. I made a special effort to take during, before, and after shots of my lasagna, despite the fact that I am a pretty lousy photographer. Then, I sent them from my phone to my email, and finally I deleted them from my phone. Whoops. I think I must have deleted them a little too quickly, because only one (very blurry) shot actually made it to my inbox. So I’m stuck using creative commons photos again. Oh, well. On to the important part–the food!

A few weekends ago we ended up with a crate of ripe tomatoes, so I made three jars of homemade sauce.  A need to use said sauce while it’s still good inspired me to make a lasagna, which is one of my fallback dinner choices as I can generally make one successful without using a specific recipe, and it gives me the chance to find creative ways to get my children to ingest more vegetables.  This time I decided to use spinach and carrots, and the lasagna alla mamma was born.

Lasagna Alla Mamma

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
1/2 lb ground beef (or meat substitute)
Italian seasoning
salt & pepper
1 jar tomato sauce
1/2 cup frozen spinach, thawed
no-cook lasagna noodles
1/2 cup grated Italian cheese of choice

For Béchamel Sauce:
2 large pats of butter
1 heaping tablespoon of flour
2 cups of milk (approx.)

Directions:
Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat.  Add the chopped onion, garlic, and diced carrot and cook until soft.  Add in the ground beef and season to taste with the Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. When the meat is done, turn off the burner and set to the side. Thaw spinach in the microwave and stir in to the filling mixture.

In another pan, melt the butter and stir in the flour to create a roux.  Slowly add in the milk, stirring constantly, until your béchamel is the right consistency (thicker than gravy, thinner than pudding). Stir the jar of tomato sauce into the béchamel.

In a square glass dish, spoon a bit of the tomato-cream sauce on the bottom, just enough to cover the bottom so the noodles don’t stick. Add in your first layer of noodles, followed by a layer of the filling mixture, topped with the tomato-cream sauce. Continue alternating layers until you run out of ingredients. Top the last layer of noodle with tomato-cream sauce and cover that with the grated cheese.

Bake on 220°C/425°F for 20 minutes, or until the top is brown and bubbly. Enjoy!

Note: If you’re like me and you use homemade tomato sauce, you may find the the noodles soak up too much of the sauce.  If that’s the case, you can always add some extra sauce on top to give extra moisture to your lasagna.

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs…

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20 thoughts on “Weekend Cooking: Lasagna alla Mamma

  1. Beth F

    I love that’s getting cool enough to make lasagna again. The addition of spinach and carrots sounds really good.

    BTW: I did a quick search and seems that you can substitute farmer’s cheese or ricotta cheese for cottage cheese.

    Reply
    1. Beth Post author

      Carol, me too! I used to make it with cottage cheese when I lived in the U.S., but there’s something about the béchamel that keeps it from getting dried out.

      Reply
  2. tinabakesbread

    I do that all the time, take photos with my phone! Sometimes I have better results with the phone instead of using the camera. One thong, don’t delete your photos before posting!
    Lasagna is a comfort food for me. Love the spinach and it sounds good as well ad healthy.

    Reply
  3. Carole

    I relate to your photo issues. Almost always your own photo no matter how blurry is better, though than the other ones – gives your post character – that’s what I like to tell myself anyway. Like your lasagne description. Have a good weekend.

    Reply
  4. Cecelia Larsen

    My mother used to add extra carrots and zucchini to pasta recipes as well – some times to more success than others. This sounds delicious – thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  5. Fay

    This looks great, but my mother-in-law was Italian-American, and if I tried to deviate from her methods, my husband would not be happy. Funny how conservative people are about their childhood food memories. In his mind, nobody is ever going to make better lasagna than his mother did. Case closed.

    Reply
    1. Beth Post author

      Ha–I think a lot of men are like that about their mother’s cooking! 🙂 My own is the same way about certain foods, but I still do them my way. Otherwise, he’s welcome to take over the cooking!

      Reply
  6. Trish

    I’ve never heard of adding Béchamel Sauce to lasagne. Although after reviewing the recipe again I wonder if this might be the equivalent to me adding ricotta. Sounds deliciously creamy!

    I’m going to make your zucchini boats for dinner. Is this the Béchamel Sauce you recommended?

    Reply
  7. Chinoiseries

    It’s so cute that your children call it lasagna alla mamma 🙂 If you lived nearer, I’d live to have a slice as well. Homemade tomato sauce and bechamel (I know too many people who use powdered formulas instead of whipping it up themselves) and lots of veggies… yum 🙂 Are there any vegetables that your girls don’t like and that you have to be extra crafty about?

    Ps. about photos: Beth F said on Twitter that she uses photos of ingredients instead of the final result, if the latter is not very pretty. I hadn’t thought of stock photos myself 🙂 great idea!

    Reply
    1. Beth Post author

      To me homemade béchamel is so easy that I can’t imagine not making it that way. But I’ve been making it for a long time, too–once you get the hang of it it’s a no-brainer. My girls will eat almost any veggie, with a few exceptions, but my rule is they have to try everything whether they like it or not.

      For the photos, I figured out that you can do an advanced search of flickr for creative commons license photos and I find a lot of good stuff that way. But I do need to make more of an effort to take my own!

      Reply
      1. Chinoiseries

        That sounds like a good rule to me 🙂 Veggies may look icky the first time, but they may taste pretty good once you try! I’m really going to try that creative commons licensee search on Flickr, thanks 🙂

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