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I’m so happy to have my best friend (and her Ma!) come and visit me, even though she’s a Bears fan.  (Go Packers!)  Since her and I graduated from high school a few years back, we haven’t ever lived within 500 miles of each other. Luckily, we love to travel and plan trips to visit one another or go somewhere new together.  Our most notable adventure was certainly a very sweaty backpacking trip through Italy in August.  Also, thanks to her, I got to go to Boston last year and see Harvard (where she’s a neuroscience researcher! I love to brag about my genius friend.) and devour a lobster on the harbor.

Lob-stah! She made me wear the bib, I acquiesced only for the photo…

My friend has been a vegetarian since before we met, she’s not a health food nut or animal rights activist, but she simply doesn’t enjoy eating meat.  I think that’s really unique, and I really love how she doesn’t try to play it any other way.  It has always been fun for me to come up with yummy, meat-free dishes for us to share whenever we get the chance to spend time together.

Since I’m cooking for a varied crowd, for her visit I made two versions of a pesto lasagna:  one had shredded chicken and the other had fava beans and roasted red peppers instead.  Dry lasagna pasta is more expensive than other pasta, and because I had the time, I made the pasta my self.  If you don’t have the time, this dish would be excellent as a baked pasta with any sort of dried pasta, like penne or rigatoni, instead.  This recipe could make two large thin pans of lasagna or two smaller and taller pans; I ended up making one 9″ x 9″ pan of vegetarian lasagna and one 9″ x 13″ pan of chicken lasagna and feeding three people dinner with the large one, and three people lunch from the small one.  There’s no limit on what you can or can’t put in this dish based on what you have on hand, what’s on sale and who you’re cooking for, it’s the very picture of versatility!

Tre Colore Lasagne – it’s the colors of the Italian flag, green pesto, white sauce and pasta with red onions and red peppers!

Serves six – approx $1.37 per serving

Ingredients

Home Made Pasta

  • 3 cups All Purpose Flour ($.50)
  • 3 eggs ($.30)
  • 3 Tbs olive oil
  • salt
  • water

Mix about a tsp of salt in with the flour and make a well.  Put the eggs and olive oil in the middle with about 3 Tbs water.  Mix with a fork until it starts to come together.  You may need to add more water, just remember that it’s a lot easier to add a little more than take some out.  Knead for 15 – 25 minutes or until smooth.  Let rest, covered in plastic, for 1 hour or up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.  If you’ve never done this before, I would recommend watching some youtube videos or a TV chef do it first.  Roll out into very thin sheets with a pasta machine or rolling pin and boil in salted water for about a minute.  Now it’s ready to be layered up as delicious lasagna!

If you don’t want to bother with it, I don’t blame you, it’s really time consuming!  Substitute 1-2 lb of whatever sort of pasta tickles your fancy.  In my case, when making my own pasta, the ratio of 1 cup all purpose flour to one egg to one tbs of olive oil works well for me.  Would you all like to see a photo tutorial in the future on making pasta from scratch?

Beschamiela – Italian beschamel sauce, very traditional in Northern Italian lasagnas

  • 2 oz butter ($.12)
  • 2 oz flour
  • 2 cups milk ($.37)
  • bay leaf
  • salt/ pepper
  • pinch nutmeg
  • Parmigiano Reggiano rind (optional) – my work throws these away, so I give them a good home instead…
  • 2 cups pasta water

Brown the butter in a small sauce pan, whisk in the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes.  Add the milk and let the sauce thicken.  Add the bay leaf, salt and pepper to taste and nutmeg and Parmigiano rind.  Whisk in the pasta water to loosen up sauce if it gets too thick.

Mix-ins

  • 12 oz mozzarella, shredded ($2.25)
  • 2 red onions, thinly sliced and caramelized ($.40)
  • 1 cup pesto ($2)
  • 1 cup favas (or lima beans) -for vegetarian version only ($.50)
  • 1 lb shredded chicken, cooked – for meat eaters version only ($1)
  • 1 cup roasted red peppers – I used my peppers I canned earlier in the summer ($.50)

Assemblage: Put a little of the beschamiela sauce on the bottom of the pans (to lessen any sticking to the pan) and layer up the pasta with your desired mix ins, making sure you add a little more beschamiela sauce and a couple spoonfuls of pesto in every layer.  After you put the last sheets of your pasta down, pour over any remaining beschamiela and pesto sauce.  Bake covered at 350 F for 30 minutes to 1 hour depending on the thickness of your lasagna.  Maybe serve with some fresh bread and vino, if you’re feeling frisky 🙂

Lasagna and good friends = lunch time heaven! A couple of rum runners by the lake doesn’t hurt either…

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