When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie
This Sunday I went to my Nonna's house (yes, I really do call my grandmother Nonna. It's my Italian half), and we made lasagna.
There is no better lasagna to be found anywhere in the world, than that made by the hands of an Italian grandmother, in her own kitchen, for her own family. I am totally biased here.
When the stars make you drool just like pasta fagiole
If we were not limited by dietary needs, we would have made the pasta sheets by hand (seriously, we do that. My Nonna has this cool little gadget...anyway).
We used two and half boxes worth to make plenty for dinner, plus some for lunch the next day (about 7 serves).
We threw a few sheets into salted boiling water and left them for about 3-5 minutes (it's casual here, we didn't time anything).
It was scooped straight out of the pot into cold water in the sink, and more sheets thrown into the boiling water (too many sheets boiling at one time equals a big wad of uncooked pasta. Gross)
Note: the sheets are not actually cooked at this point - just softened.
We laid them out to dry a little on a clean tea towel.
I found out that when Nonna was still living in the village in Italy, her family would never ever have lasagna. Why? Too expensive. They were living in post-war Italy which was not a nice place. There was nothing to buy, no work, no money, no nothing except for what could be grown in the small patch of land outside the back door. Wheat, potatoes, tomatoes, olives. Everything was saved and stretched, because there was nothing in the shops, and no money to buy it with anyway.
It was only when she hit the shores of Australia in the 1950s, that Nonna had all the ingredients for lasagna at her fingertips.
Now, our family has it every Christmas and on birthdays. It's still for special occasions. Thankfully, we seems to have lots of birthdays nicely spread out through the year.
Anyway, our sheets have dried enough now...
Time to spread some plain tomato sauce onto the bottom of our baking dish. The tomato-less dish just had some meat juice spread across the bottom (see on the left?).
Then the fun part. Press down the first layer of pasta. This reminds me of doing a puzzle, especially when the dish is round and the pasta is square.
Now is probably a good time to talk about our filling. Nonna made it the day before, and it is easy and smells great.
She simply fried some garlic and onion in olive oil and added some fresh minced meat (can't remember what type, sorry), and tossed it around for a few minutes until it lost it pinkness and was cooked. I'd say she added salt, because she puts salt in everything.
This mix above is the tomato-less version, and so my ingenious Nonna replaced that vital ingredient with three orange vegetables: carrot, sweet potato and pumpkin. (Well-watered to be nice and mooshy)
Now some of the filling is spooned generously onto the pasta sheets, covering as much ground as possible. On top of the filling, exercise your wrist muscles and sprinkle grated mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Get decadent and spoon a little plain cream over the whole thing...this makes it extra soft and creamy. We also beat one egg and poured a smidgen across the top to hold it all together.
Now...Repeat! Until you have at least four layers.
Finish the top layer off with everything you have, and voila! Ready for the oven.
I don't think I forgot anything.
Cook for about 45 minutes and it should look something like this:
The SMELL is heavenly! But don't take my word for it - you have to make it yourself!