Happy New Year; but don't finish celebrating quite yet....
If you're an Italian, then you are still celebrating the Christmas season. If you are an American than you are already on a diet and your full trash can is by the curb. But what do you do when you're both????
In Italy, the festivities begin on Christmas Eve with a family fast, solemn gathering around the nativity set, an evening at church, and fast breaking feast. In the morning, families return to church, and continue to attend for the next twelve days, stretching the holiday well into January. On January 6, the Epiphany, a good witch comes bringing gifts. It is said that "La Befana" lost her way when trying to visit the Christ Child, so instead delivers gifts to well-behaved little children on the very day of the Three Kings. My two little charges are always happy to receive a last little Christmas present from the kind Italian witch, and I'm always happy that I could buy that little Christmas present at an After Christmas Sale.
In our house, we eat Italian food through the holiday season. It looks so festive on the plate to be eating tomato sauces with fresh basil and oregano, deep red and lively green. For Christmas Eve dinner, as I mentioned, we feasted on bruschetta, lasagna, fettucini alfredo, salad and Italian bread. I'm dismayed to realize that I didn't take a single picture. Sometimes as the hostess, all of your time and attention are needed to make the party a success. And sometimes you are a forgetful little twit. What happens when you are both???( I have so many New Year's Resolutions to make this year. I should have saved my last year's list. I'm still working on the same things. )
Thank goodness that I had these lasagna photos in my archives. This is not my grand "Christmas Eve Sausage and Four Cheese" version of lasagna, but my weeknight version of lasagna, a kinder, gentler recipe for January. Let it be known that not many Italians would really be having lasagna for Christmas Eve dinner. Traditional meals center around eel and panettone, but my Italian family-like most Italians I know-have their own ideas about how things should be done. Why let tradition stand in the way? Since there are only four for January weeknight dinners at my house, I make a quickie version of lasagna in a loaf pan. The no cook noodles from Barilla fit perfectly. And while I'm at it, I make another loaf pan to freeze.
Buon Natale and may your holiday season last throughout 2009!
Money Saving Tips: If you have leftover cooked pasta, skip the lasagna noodles and follow the recipe to make a layered pasta dish instead. If you are short on loaf pans, line the pan with tinfoil with a large overhang. Freeze the lasagna, remove it from the pan and wrap it tightly in foil. Make a big batch of your own marinara from the big economical cans of tomatoes and freeze it in zip top bags for future dinners.
Make one Freeze One Lower-Fat Weeknight Lasagna
Estimated Cost for 2 loaf pans: $7.50
Tips: Add cooked, crumbled sausage to the top of ricotta layers, if desired, for a heartier dish.
2 cups part skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon each dried basil and pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 and 1/2 cups part skim mozzarella, divided
4 cups Tomato and Basil Marinara Sauce, from a jar or your favorite recipe
6 no boil lasagna noodles, (I use Barilla)
In a small bowl, combine ricotta, parmesan, egg, basil, salt and pepper. Coat a loaf pan with no stick cooking spray. Spread bottom with 1/2 cup marinara sauce. Top with one noodle. Spread thinly with heaping 1/2 cup ricotta mixture. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup mozzarella. Top with 1/2 cup marinara sauce, another noodles, 1/2 cup ricotta mixture and 1/2 cup mozzarella. Top with 1/2 cup marinara sauce, another noodle and 1/2 cup more marinara sauce. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup mozzarella. Coat a sheet of tin foil with no stick cooking spray. Place on top of pan. Repeat process for another lasagna. Bake for 40 minutes at 400 degrees. Remove foil and bake an additional ten minutes. (Thaw frozen lasagna completely before baking.)
Tuesdays with Dorie FANTASTIC Pear and Almond Cream Tart