My good friend AB decided to have a last minute Shabbat dinner and make lasagna for a couple of her friends - her boyfriend BS and her friends G & R. I offered to share a recipe and a hand. Nothing like a good Italian-style, comfort food dinner to begin a long weekend!
Main course: Spinach Lasagna adjusted from a recipe by EcoAmanda.
1 jar (26 Oz. Jar) Pasta Sauce (or whatever type of tomato sauce you have - we used 2 "half jars" of pasta sauce and a half jar of pizza sauce)
1 box no-boil lasagna noodles
1 pound Ricotta
½ cups Grated Parmesan
20 ounces, fluid Frozen Spinach, Thawed And Drained
1 cup Shredded Monterey Jack
1 Japanese Eggplant
Spread a layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of the pan (next time I may use more than this.)
Combine ricotta, parmesan and spinach and spoon ½ of the mixture over the noodles.
Put a second layer of noodles over the cheese mixture, then the rest of the cheese mixture. Cover with the remaining sauce. Top with the Monterey Jack.
Cover with foil, domed so that the cheese doesn’t stick to the top.
Bake 45 minutes at 375 degrees.
Remove foil and bake 20 minutes more.
Allow to set for ½ hour before cutting to serve.
Review: This was a very easy lasagna recipe and came out great. I would add an extra layer of lasagna to make it go to the top of the pan. The spinach and ricotta go great together and the monterey jack cheese on top became bubbly and crispy and delicious. This was my first time trying no boil noodles - I heard they were way easier and I was trying to make it simple to teach AB, I know from experience that boiling lasagna noodles is difficult. I found that they were a little bit gummy and not as al dente as real lasagna noodles. BS and others seemed to think they were just as good and both the boys and girls really enjoyed it! The Japanese eggplant was also my own addition, simply because AB had it in the house and wasn't sure what to do with it, and I enjoyed the texture added to the dish. Lasagna is such an easy dish and with noodles, sauce, and cheese - well you can't really mess it up! I would love to add other veggies next time like summer squash or zucchini.
Rating: 4 - pretty jammy
And then a dish I'd be dying to try ever since I encountered it on Tasty Kitchen....
Garlic Butter Crusty Bubble Bread (Everyone one of those words makes my heart skip a beat) by Rebecca
1 stick Unsalted Butter, (or 1/4 Lb.)
4 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Minced Fresh Garlic
¾ teaspoons Italian Seasonings
½ teaspoons Granulated Dried Garlic
½ teaspoons Kosher Salt, Plus An Additional 1/2 Teaspoon For Sprinkling
¼ teaspoons Freshly Ground Black Pepper
3 Tablespoons Instant Yeast
3 Tablespoons Kosher Salt
6 cups Lukewarm Water
13 cups All-purpose Flour
Master Bread Dough Recipe:
Mix water, yeast and salt together in the bowl of a large stand mixer or in a 10 quart food-safe container. Add flour and stir until the mixture is uniform. You don’t have to knead, but you want everything uniformly moist, without dry patches. The dough will be wet and will conform to the shape of its container.
Cover with a lid that fits well, but is not airtight (will a towel work?) and allow to rise at room temperature for about 2 hours or until the dough collapses back in on itself. You can now refrigerate the dough for up to two weeks, using the dough whenever you need it, or you may use it immediately.
To assemble the Garlic Butter Crusty Bubble Bread:
Unwrap butter and place in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in the microwave until the butter is fully melted. Stir olive oil, garlic, Italian seasoning, granulated garlic, the 1/2 teaspoon of Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper into the melted butter. Set next to you on the countertop and turn your attention to the dough.
Dust the refrigerated dough in the bucket with a generous amount of flour.
Pull dough up from the center and use a sharp knife to cut off a portion that is between the size of a golf ball and plum. Pull the sides down and under while rotating the dough to form a smooth ball. (there are no pictures of this because I couldn't do it...)
On a clean counter, place the dough ball, seam side down, and gently cup the dough with your hand. Rotate it in one direction on the counter while providing gentle and steady downward pressure. This will smooth the surface of the dough ball and make it tight. (I am not sure I did this part right either...)
Carefully deposit the dough ball into the butter mixture and turn to coat completely. Use a fork to transfer the dough to a 9″ x 13″ pan. Repeat until you have at least four rows of three dough balls. If you want very crusty bubbles of bread, stop here. If you prefer crusty tops with softer sides, cut off and roll six more dough balls and place them in the open spaces between rows. Do not crowd the pan to the point where you have to shove or mash the dough balls. Drizzle any remaining garlic butter mixture over the top of the balls and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of Kosher salt.
Allow the dough to rest while preheating the oven to 450°F (230°C or 8 Gas Mark). When oven is hot, place the pan on a center rack and bake for 25 minutes, or until the top of the bread is deep brown. There will still be quite a bit of bubbling butter around the edges of the bread. This is a good thing. Allow the pan to stand on the stovetop until the remaining butter is absorbed.
Serve warm, as-is, or topped with a generous amount of freshly grated hard Italian cheese and a bowl of warm marinara sauce for dipping.
Review: I'm a little disappointed that they didn't turn out as good as they looked on the Tasty Kitchen site. I also split the bread dough recipe in half and still had a good amount left over. I was a bit lazy in measuring the flour (it was a lot of measuring to do!) so I think I ended up adding too much and they were a little bit too dense. Also, the recipe made it sound as if there would be butter bubbling out of the pan when they came out of the oven and there was definitely not - I even ended up pouring more butter on top and they soaked it right up. I was entirely unable to create the dough balls - that was far too difficult. Still, they tasted very good and everyone enjoyed them. I think if I followed the recipe in a more exact manner they would have been better. I think I'd skip them for real garlic bread though.