Italian Sunday Meal: No Fuss Lasagna

Who are we kidding- when is lasagna, no fuss?

And then, yet…if you prepare some of it in advance, there’s hope!  For instance, your sauce need not be prepared the day of.  Prepare it up to a few days before.

Cheese?  Grate that mozzarella the night before (or better yet, buy the pre-grated in-a-bag-mozzarella).  Same goes for the actual pasta used; you can buy the oven-ready kind.  It’s just as good.  All I do is pass it under hot water and then place directly in pan over first layer of sauce. Easy peasy.

As for the beschamel…well, that one you gotta do on the spot.  Unless you can prep this too the night before?  Never tried it- but if you have, let me know.

Note: For Beschamel sauce: melt about 2 tbsp of butter and 2 tbsp of flour on low heat. Gradually pour in milk. Stir on low to med heat until thickens. Pour as much milk as needed until you get the right consistency.

Alternate layers between beschamel and sauce.

All that’s left to do is put it in the oven for about 45 minutes covered at 200 c. Then uncover for another 15 minutes of cooking. Et voila!  Serve with a side dish of cauliflower and another of coleslaw.  Simple!

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And there you have it:  No-fuss Lasagna.  Enjoy!

 

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The Greeks Call it Yemista- Healthy Comfort Food

Deliciously filled baked vegetables that hit the spot! Yemista as the Greeks call this rich and satisfying meal is perfect for these nippy cold autumn days. For the record, Italians make this too- they call it, Verdura Ripiena (thought I’d add that in, since today’s cook, yours truly, is Italian;)

On that note, my recipe is a mix of both cultures: A Greek delicacy with an Italian flare. I have to warn you, this dish does take a bit of time to make. Here’s my way:

About 12 vegetables

3/4lb minced meat (I use a blend of veal, pork and beef)

2 onions

1 cup rice

salt, pepper, dill to taste, chilli flakes

Pam, a tiny bit of olive oil to drizzle

You can use a variety of different vegetables such as: Zucchini, eggplant, red, green, orange..peppers, yellow zucchini squash, potatoes , tomatoes- basically any vegetable that can easily be hollowed. Today, all I had on hand were tomatoes, red peppers and potatoes.

I usually begin by scraping out the vegetables, while keeping the top for a cap (you’ll see later). Then, all the scrapings are finely chopped and lightly salted.

If you clean out the potatoes first, as I did, you will need to place them in a bowl filled with cold water. This way they won’t turn brown while you work on the other vegetables.

Mix meat, scrapings, rice and onions together. Then, in a large pan, cook the mixture. Add salt, pepper and dill to your liking. If you prefer your dishes on the spicy side (Italian touch), add some chilli flakes, or peperoncino. Keep adding water as the rice swells.

When the whole mixture is consistently cooked (rice should be almost semi cooked), just go ahead and fill up the vegetables.

Place them neatly in a greased pan (I use Pam, but you can also use olive oil). Top them with their caps (helps keep them moist and cook evenly). Add about a ½ cup of water at the bottom of pan. Drizzle a few drops of olive oil.

Cover with aluminium foil and bake at 175C (325F) for about an hour. The last few minutes, uncover and set on broil – just long enough to get them nicely roasted.

Et voila! Or as the Greeks say: Etima!

Kali Orexi! Buon Appetito!

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