This lasagna is inspired by one my mother-in-law typically serves as a first course. Mrs. Monaco makes this with ground beef and capicola, but I’ve taken some liberties. My husband loves veal, so I've used it instead of beef. Veal lasagna is typically made with a white sauce, such as bechamel, but I prefer the red sauce. The capicola adds just a touch of spicy heat to this dish.
1 ½ pounds/680 grams ground, lean veal
4.4 ounces/125 grams hot capicola ham
1 yellow onion
2 garlic cloves
3.5 ounces/100 grams carrots
10 fresh basil leaves (plus more for optional garnish)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
22.8 ounces/675 milliliters passata (strained tomatoes, tomato puree)
Pinch of black pepper
12 whole-wheat, oven-ready lasagna noodles
15 ounces/425 grams whole milk ricotta cheese, room temperature
8 ounces/226 grams (ball) of fresh mozzarella, sliced
2 small handfuls of grated Romano cheese
Brown the veal over medium heat in a large pot. Drain and reserve the excess oil. Set aside the cooked veal.
In a food processor, pulse the ham, onion, garlic, carrots, and basil until finely chopped or do it by hand with a knife.
In the same pot, sauté the ham mixture over medium heat for 5 minutes, to soften. Add the tablespoon of olive oil if needed or use some of the oil from the veal. Pour in the passata and add a pinch of black pepper. Stir well to combine and heat the entire mixture.
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
In a 9x13 lasagna dish, layer the ingredients by spreading a large spoonful of the sauce on the bottom. Place 4 lasagna noodles side by side on top of the sauce. Dollop the ricotta over the noodles and spread evenly. Add a layer of sauce, then noodles, then ricotta, sauce, and noodles. Finish with remaining sauce and top with the sliced mozzarella and the handfuls of Romano.
Cover the dish with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Uncover the lasagna in the last 10 minutes of cooking to brown/melt the cheese.
Optional: Garnish with fresh basil leaves before serving.
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