Lasagna is one of the most popular pasta dishes in America. We even have a cartoon dedicated to an orange cat that can't get enough of the stuff. Just because people like to make it, doesn't mean they are doing it right. I am think of numerous times of seeing lasagna sitting in a pile of red liquid. That doesn't look very appetizing. Alton Brown has come up with a recipe to prevent you from meeting the same fate. He also has a sweet version of a classic Jewish pasta dish.
Slow Cooker Lasagna | Click here for the recipe
Alton takes a very different approach to cooking his lasagna. Instead of the standard oven, he uses a slow cooker. He offered a cool tip. If your slow cooker doesn't have a timer setting or it's not for the amount of hours you want, you can just plug the slow cooker into a lamp timer and set it for your desired amount of cook time and when that cook time should start.
I mentioned that one of the issues with lasagna is it sitting in a pile of liquid. Alton looks for ways to cut down on moisture. He uses 3 vegetables: eggplant, mushrooms, and zucchini. The eggplant and zucchini are full of water, so he uses kosher salt to pull moisture from the veggies and then spins them dry in a salad spinner. He also uses goat milk powder to add protein and flavor but not more liquid.
As for the meat, he uses beef sausage and ground pork. You can change that up if you like. For additional seasoning, he uses a homemade Italian herb blend. It contains dried oregano, thyme, marjoram, rosemary, sage, and basil.
For assembly, he piles some lasagna noodles around the edge of the slow cooker and then piles the ingredients in the middle forming 3 layers. Alton likes to use Italian lasagna. He thinks most American versions are too thick, so you end up with a chewy product in the end. To prepare the pasta for the dish, he just soaks them in hot tap water for about 15 minutes. You only need the pasta to be flexible.
Lasagna Noodle Kugel | Click here for the recipe
I have made a noodle kugel dish in the past for a Seder dinner. It is a traditional Jewish pasta dish, that often is made to be sweet. Alton's version contains lasagna noodles that he cooks and then slices into 1 inch pieces with a pizza cutter. These noodles are combined with a custard containing cream cheese, sour cream, vanilla extract, salt, sugar, butter, and eggs. Not exactly fat free! Then he adds in some dried fruit and finely grated nutmeg. Then it is baked until the custard sets and the noodles are browned.
If you are tired of the same old lasagna or want to be freed from the frozen box, give these recipes a try.