06 Feb Basil Lasagna Extraordinaire
|Serves 6 to 10
1 large bunch of basil (rinsed, leaves removed, and dried)
|Preheat oven to 375°F
Half fill a bowl with cold water and set it aside. Bring 4 quarts of salted water to boil in a large pot. Stirring gently, add a few pieces of lasagne and cook until tender (the goal is to have it undercooked or “al dente”). With a sieve, remove the pasta and place it in the bowl of cold water. All the remaining pasta must be cooked and treated the same way. As all the pasta is cooling, lay out a “lint-free” kitchen towel (do not use terry cloth) on the counter. Once the pasta is cool, place each piece flat on the towel. Most likely, several towels will be needed, for the lasagna may be stacked with a towel between each layer.
In a separate bowl, beat the ricotta with salt and pepper (to taste).
In a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan, spread a thin layer of the meat sauce. Then, place as many pieces of lasagna (slightly overlapping them) as needed to form a single layer in the pan. Now, evenly spread approximately 1/3 of the ricotta mixture on top of the pasta. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the grated cheese. Place a layer of basil leaves down next and then cover the leaves with a layer of mozzarella slices. Continue this same process in order to make 2 more layers. The top of the final layer of lasagna should have meat sauce and the remaining grated cheese. If the lasagna is being made in advance, the pan should be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.
When cooking, the pan should be placed on a center rack in the oven.
Baking time is 40 to 45 minutes. If it appears the lasagne is becoming too brown, loosely cover it with foil. However, the goal is to have the top browned and the meat sauce bubbling around the edges. Add 15 minutes to the baking time if the lasagne had been refrigerated.
Cut the lasagne into squares and serve.