Saturday, July 11, 2009

White Lasagna

To tell you the truth, I just sort of made up this recipe on the go. I had family in and one of them was a vegetarian (poor girl, I don't know where she went wrong). I was told I had to fix dinner for about a dozen people and I wanted something that I could actually talk to my family while they were visiting. I was thinking of a spinach lasagna with a cream sauce. Then I thought mushrooms would be better. Then I had an epiphany. I could make a little lasagna that was vegetarian and a big lasagna that was meat-a-licious. Or Seafood-a-licious. What about shrimp? Genius, I say. And a delicious recipe was born.

10 oz of ricotta cheese
1 handful of fresh parsley plus extra for garnish
1 egg
2 packages of frozen spinach (thawed and drained)
1 medium onion
5 cloves of garlic
12 oz of mushrooms
1.5 lbs of shrimp (I used 36-40 count, it's cheaper and we don't need huge shrimp in the lasagna)
1 lb of lasagna noodles
3 cups of mozarella cheese
3/4 lb of Pecorino Romano cheese
6 tablespoons All purpose flour
6 cups of milk
2 tablespoons of italian seasoning
2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper
an utterly unhealthy amount of butter
old bay seasoning
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper

First up, the ricotta cheese mixture. Dump the ricotta in a bowl with the egg and a couple grinds of black bepper. Remember I was making two lasagnas here, so you don't need two eggs. Hopefully, it won't confuse you too much.

Chop up your handful of parsley.

Now add it to the ricotta and egg and stir it all up. Set aside in the refrigerator for later.

Chop up 3 cloves of garlic.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a pan.

Once melted, add the mushrooms, a generous amount of kosher salt and ground pepper. Stir and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes.

After the five minutes are up, add the garlic and keep on cooking.

Once most of the moisture is out of the mushrooms, remove from heat and set in refrigerator while we get everything else ready.

Take your shrimp and remove the shells, tails and 'vein' if they are there. Lay them out on a large cutting board and sprinkle with kosher salt, ground pepper and Old Bay seasoning. In Maryland, this is a must on our seafood (and fries, and corn, and everything else). If you don't know what Old Bay is, slap yourself and then slap your momma for not raising you right.

Once again, get your pan searing hot. Add a little olive oil and toss the shrimp in batches. Once again, we are just trying to carmelize the outside a little. Shrimp cook very fast (especially smaller ones), so keep your eye on them. Once done, set aside in refrigerator.

Take an onion and give it a rough dice.

Throw the chopped onion in a pan with two tablespoons of butter and cook for 4-5 minutes. Of course, we add some salt and pepper as well.

While it's cooking, chop up two cloves of garlic.

Add that to the pan with the onion and cook for 3 minutes.

Add your spinach and the crushed red pepper flake and cook for a few minutes. Stir to combine. Set this mixture aside in the refrigerator as well.

Get a giant sauce pan so we can build our sauce. I used my wok here because it's big. Melt seven (yes, 7!!) tablespoons of butter in the pan. I never promised this was a healthy dish.

Once melted, add the flour.

Stir to combine. Coook this for 6 or 7 minutes, until the flour has darkened to a sandy beach sort of color. During this 6-7 minutes, get out your 6 cups of milk and start to heat it in another pan. We want to add the milk warm here so it doesn't solidify all the butter.

I added 2 tablespoons of Italian Seasoning to give the sauce a little extra flavor.

Now add your warm milk and bring to a slow boil. Then cook for 10 minutes. This is the perfect time to start cooking your noodles.

Get out your shredder and go to town on the pecorino romano cheese. It might crumble more than shred, but that's OK as long as it get's smaller.

Now we get to add our cheeses. First we will go with half a pound of pecorino romano.

Then follow it with a cup of mozzarella.

And a bunch of ground pepper.

Our noodles are now cooked to a perfect al dente.

Now, we have all our ingredients prepped, we can start making the lasagna. Start with a layer of our cheesy and creamy sauce.

Follow with a layer of noodles and the spinach mixture.

Then comes some more sauce.

Another layer of noodles comes on top of the sauce. Followed by the ricotta mixture. I was about 30 minutes late for my dinner party at this point and forgot to take a picture of the ricotta but you can imagine what it looks like. On top of the ricotta comes the noodles followed by the shrimp.

Add some sauce on top of the shrimp, another set of noodles, and then our mushroom mixture. Another layer of sauce goes on the mushrooms.

Follow with some more noodles, more sauce and then 2 cups of mozarella cheese and the last 1/4 lb of pecorino romano. Sprinkle with a little of that left over parsley to make it look pretty and congratulate yourself for making my longest post ever. Seriously, this was a little in depth. I have 32 pictures here. Is that too many for one post? Just for clarification lasagna order is as follows; sauce, noodles, spinach mix, sauce, noodles, ricotta mix, noodles, shrimp, sauce, noodles, mushrooms, sauce, noodles, sauce, cheese, parsley. 16 remarkable layers combine for deliciousness.

Cover with foil and bake this at 375° for 30 minutes. Take off the foil and bake for another 15 minutes until all the cheese is melted and it's a little bubbly. My entire family thoroughly enjoyed this dish and raved about how delicious the shrimp were (Thank you, Old Bay!). It is a time consuming dish, however I wouldn't hesitate to make it again. I'd just plan on giving myself a little more time.

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