Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sunday Dinner

Tonight's dinner started with me trying to figure out a way to use up ingredients in the refrigerator, before heading away to see family for the holidays.  I opened the fridge door and began looking for ways to use all of the cheese I had on hand.  (More on my cheese addiction in a future post!)  What better way to use mascarpone, ricotta, mozzerella, parmagiano, goat cheese and cream cheese than a lasagna?  I also had some shrimp in the freezer and pancetta from the farmer's market, which started to make my mouth water for a lasagna with a twist.

This would not be a traditional Italian lasagna like my Mom would make for a Sunday family dinner, but the beauty of cooking is to create your own versions of your favourite dishes.  In the end, some will become classics in my own family, and some I will never make again.  The experience of trying new things and learning from them is part of why I have such a passion for cooking.

Following are steps I followed in making this lasagna (sauce, shrimp, filling and assembly). 

For the sauce:
  • 1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Approx. 1 cup thinly sliced pancetta - diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion - diced
  • 2 cloves garlic - finely chopped
  • 1 ounce vodka
  • 2 jars of strained tomatoes / homemade tomato sauce
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • salt and pepper to taste
    • Heat olive oil and once hot, add pancetta.  When pancetta is almost crispy, add onions and sautee for 3-5 minutes.  Add vodka and continue to cook.  Once alcohol is burned off, add garlic.  After another 2 minutes, add tomato, salt and pepper.  After sauce has simmered for 15 minutes, add cream.  Turn off sauce and set aside.
For the shrimp:
  • 1 tbsp of garlic butter
  • 3/4 pound of 70/90 shrimp
  • salt and pepper
    • Heat pan and add garlic butter.  When melted, add shrimp and sautee on high heat until shrimp changes colour (1-2 minutes max.)  Season and set aside.
For the cheese filling:
  • 2 cups ricotta
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella
  • 1 cup grated parmagiano
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone
  • 1 tbsp goat cheese and 1 tbsp cream cheese (These are optional.  I had them in my fridge so I figured, why not throw them in as well?)
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 6 cups of fresh baby spinach
    • Combine all ingredients in food processor until smooth.  Set aside until assembly.
Finally, the assembly:
  • 500 grams of lasagna noodles (I made my own, but store bought fresh or dried noodles will work.) 
  • 1 cup mozzarella (for the top of the lasagna)
  • 1/2 cup parmagiano (for the top of the lasagna) 
    • Ladle sauce to cover the bottom of the lasagna pan.  Place one layer of lasagna noodles in pan.  Spread a thick layer of cheese mixture over noodles.  Add another layer of noodles and cover in sauce.  Add shrimp to this layer and repeat previous steps until you reach the top of the pan.  Add mozzarella and parmagiano to the top of the lasagna, cover with foil and place in a 350 degree oven.  After 30 minutes, remove foil and cook for another 15 minutes.  Remove when lasagna is bubbling, cheese is golden and you just cannot resist another minute.  If you can restrain yourself, let the lasagna rest for 15 minutes prior to cutting.  This will help the pieces stay together in neat squares when you plate it. 

Buon Appetito


  1. Mmmmm....
    I like to add or substitute things in my cooking too. It does make it your own and sometimes it's good and sometimes you decide that is one to never make again! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thanks for the post...happy cooking!