Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Gluten Free No-Boil Lasagna

I am a huge fan of cooking once, eating two nights in a row. Lasagna is definitely one of my favorites- not exactly simple, but well worth it.
When I first found out I had Celiac Disease, giving up pasta was the hardest part for me. I love pasta in all shapes and sizes and my new diet had me depressed. Naturally, I quickly learned how to replicate most recipes I loved. One thing that gave me a hard time was making lasagna. All noodles I was able to find required pre-boiling, which took a crazy amount of time and never really worked out the way I wanted (picture me trying to separate big lumps of pasta that formed because I was too lazy to cook the noodles separately; it was not pretty…)
And then, one fine day, I stumbled upon a gluten free no-boil lasagna noodle. I was so happy! However, knowing that gluten free noodles don’t act the same as their wheaty counterparts, I had to find a recipe that was relatively simple and delicious. I think I was able to do just that by experimenting.
You do not have to make this recipe gluten free- it works just as well with semolina pasta. I sometimes make it as a meat lasagna and sometimes a veggie one, depending on my mood and what’s available. I will mostly be referencing the meat in this recipe- just replace it with whatever veggies you prefer. I’ve tried making gluten free bĂ©chamel sauce, which I will post the recipe for in the near future, but I also like this simpler method of adding creaminess to the dish.

The ingredients:
1 box of no boil lasagna noodles (I used the De Boles brand ones)
1 lb ground beef and/or veggies of your choice (I like zucchini, bell pepper, mushrooms, and tomatoes)
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ an onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic
1 1/2 – 2 jars of pasta sauce of your choice, depending on how saucy you like it
½ cup water
1 15oz container of ricotta
2-3 cups of shredded Italian cheese blend
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 egg
Salt & pepper (and any other herbs you like) to taste

The instructions:
·         Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C)
·         In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat
·         When hot, add the onion and garlic until they soften
·         Add the meat and brown thoroughly (or add veggies and sautĂ©), adding salt and pepper to taste (in the lasagna I took the pictures of, I used meat and mushrooms- delish!)
·         Drain any excess fat, then add pasta sauce and water; let simmer
·         In a bowl, combine ricotta, egg, 1 cup of the Italian cheese and parmesan; if the mixture seems too thick to spread, add a little of the sauce and stir it in
·         Take the sauce off the heat; in a 13x9x2 dish, spread ¼ of the sauce
·         Make one noodle layer with the uncooked noodles ( I usually do three next to each other- they expand when they cook)
·         Spread ½ of the ricotta mixture onto the pasta
·         Add ¼ of the sauce
·         Make another noodle layer
·         Spread the remainder of the ricotta mixture
·         Add ¼ of the sauce
·         Make the final pasta layer
·         Add the remaining sauce; be sure to cover all of the pasta so that it cooks evenly
·         Top with 1 – 2 cups of Italian cheese, depending on how cheesy you like it (I like it very cheesy)
·         Cover the dish with aluminum foil and cook for 50 minutes
·         Remove the foil; turn on the broiler and cook until cheese is golden brown

I hope you enjoy! Please excuse my terrible attempts at taking nice pictures of the food- I still have lots to learn…

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