Tag Archives: italian

Kids in the Kitchen: Lasagna, Two Ways

Gluten-Free Lasagna
Gluten-Free Lasagna

lasagna bakedWhen Matt decided he wanted to make lasagna for his turn in the kitchen, I happily agreed. I love lasagna. I knew that gluten-free lasagna noodles existed, so I figured this would be a wonderful dish for the family. I started to make a grocery list, and went shopping.

Only to find out that my “regular” grocery stops (SuperTarget and Sprouts) did not carry gluten-free lasagna noodles. Gluten-free shells, spaghetti, linguine? Yes. Lasagna? Nope. So I begrudgingly purchased regular lasagna noodles, and accepted that I wouldn’t be eating lasagna that night.

But as today drew closer, I didn’t accept it. (Why should I be unable to enjoy kids’ creations?) And although I knew another grocery, such as Whole Foods, would possibly carry the pasta, a busy week kept me from making that extra trip. I had to come up with a way to make a “psuedo-lasagna” that would satisfy me, sans gluten-free noodles. Suddenly I remembered that my brother (also gluten-intolerant) insisted that corn tortillas made a great substitute for lasagna noodles. Since corn tortillas are always in our house, I figured, why not?

And so it began. When Matt and I were preparing our mise en place, he was already imagining how wonderful the lasagna would taste. I have to admit, so was I. Lasagna is the ultimate comfort food, with its cheesy layers, and bursts of flavor from the tomato sauce and fillings. I’ll have to admit, as we browned the sausage and simmered the sauce, lots of “taste tests” occurred. (It’s actually amazing that there was anything left to put into the lasagna!) And the 45-minute wait while the lasagna baked seemed like an eternity.

lasagna 007

Once the lasagna emerged from the oven, though, it was well worth the wait. While not photo-friendly (the lasagnas did not cut into nice, neat squares for photographs…), the kids devoured most of the “gluten-y” lasagna (Matt had 3 helpings!), while I happily chowed down on my corn tortilla lasagna. It was nice and light, (I added a thinly sliced zucchini in my layers, just because I happened to have some that needed to be eaten) but plenty flavorful enough. So much, in fact, I felt satisfied. Who says living gluten-free has to mean deprivation? It doesn’t mean that I won’t try to look for gluten-free lasagna noodles in the future (I plan to ask Sprouts to see if they’ll start carrying it), but this version definitely hit the spot.

To make both gluten-free (2 servings) and regular lasagna (6 servings):

1 1/2 lb hot Italian sausage, crumbled

1/2 medium sweet onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 28-oz can crushed tomatoes

2 t dried oregano

1/2 t crushed red pepper

1/2 t anchovy paste

1 1/2 T fresh basil, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

8 oz oven-ready lasagna noodles

3 corn tortillas, cut into 1 inch strips

1/2 lb ricotta cheese

4-5 c shredded mozzarella cheese

1/2 c Parmesan cheese, finely grated

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Brown the sausage, crumbling with spatula. Add onions and garlic, and cook for 4-5 minutes or until soft.

Meanwhile, open crushed tomatoes and pour into a medium saucepan. Add oregano, crushed red pepper, and anchovy paste and stir. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add basil and stir, simmer for 2-3 minutes more.

For the regular lasagna, use a 13X9 glass baking dish. For the gluten-free lasagna, I used a 8-inch round baking dish. Pour a bit of sauce in the bottom of each dish and spread around. Add a single layer of noodles to the regular lasagna, and a layer of corn tortillas to the gluten-free lasagna. Top the gluten-free lasagna with a layer of zucchini. Top both with a layer of sausage, followed by a thin layer of ricotta. Sprinkle a layer of mozzarella on top. Pour another spoonful or two of sauce, and repeat with the noodles/tortillas, zucchini, sausage, and cheeses. Top with a bit more sauce, and sprinkle the remainder of mozzarella on top of both lasagnas. Sprinkle parmesan evenly on top of both as well.

Bake in the oven for 45 minutes, tented with foil, until the noodles on the regular lasagna are tender. Remove and allow to cool for a few minutes, and serve.

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Filed under Beef, Gluten-Free, Main Dishes, Pasta

Kids in the Kitchen: Spaghetti and (Gluten-Free) Meatballs

spaghetti and meatballsTonight was Matt’s night in the kitchen. Matt has somewhat picky tastes, but he’ll eat just about anything if it involves pasta or wrapped in a tortilla. So it was no surprise to any of us that spaghetti and meatballs was his first choice. He could eat spaghetti every day, if allowed. So spaghetti it was.

Of course, with my recent decision to go gluten-free, I knew that I would have to make some modifications. Gluten-free spaghetti is easy – Glutino sells some brown rice pasta. (Of course, brown rice works just as well in a pinch.) However, my usual meatball recipe calls for bread crumbs. I could omit them, but I was afraid the meatballs would be soggy and dense. I had some Glutino Flax Seed Bread, (which makes really good toast!) so I figured, why not make bread crumbs from this? Blitzed 4 slices in the food processor, and ta-da, gluten-free bread crumbs! We were in business.

Matt was a fast learner in the kitchen. Good thing, because his dish called for more ingredients than the dishes his siblings prepared. His favorite part, obviously, was making the meatballs. (He kept rolling HUGE meatballs, and telling his brother that they were his “dream” meatballs.) With the laughing and joking around, the preparation went by rather quickly. We had those meatballs in the oven in what seemed like a matter of minutes.

Matt mixing the meat for meatballs

Matt mixing the meat for meatballs

Speaking of a matter of minutes, this tomato sauce recipe takes less than 10 minutes to prepare. Who needs 15-plus ingredients and a long simmer time to make a great tomato sauce? As I’ve found out recently, not I! This sauce is so tasty and bright, with a good kick from the red pepper, and only uses 7 ingredients (if you count salt as an ingredient).

All in all, this turned out to be a satisfying meal. After tonight, the first round of “Kids in the Kitchen” is complete. I couldn’t be more pleased. I think we’re beginning something that will continue to be a source of fun and education for a long while to come.

 

Gluten-Free Meatballs (adapted from Cuisine At Home)

1 1/2 c gluten-free breadcrumbs

3/4 c parmesan cheese, finely grated

1/2 c milk

1/2 c vegetable broth

1/2 c fresh parsley, chopped

3 eggs, beaten

2 T dried oregano

1 T garlic, minced

1 1/2 t salt

1 T ground black pepper

2 t dried basil

1 t crushed red pepper flakes

pinch nutmeg

2 lbs lean ground beef

1 c vegetable or chicken broth

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Stir together first 13 ingredients (through nutmeg) in a large mixing bowl. Add ground beef and mix together thoroughly. (We used our hands – clean, of course.) Take a portion of meat (about 1 1/2 oz each, or nearly 2 inches in diameter) and roll into a ball with your palms. (Alternatively, you can use a portioning scoop or two spoons.) Place the meatballs on a baking sheet or shallow roasting pan, evenly spaced.

 chicken curry 042

Cover the bottom of the pan wiht the remaining 1 cup of broth. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the meatballs are just cooked through.

While the meatballs are baking, you can prepare the pasta according to package directions, and start the sauce.

Quick and Easy Tomato Sauce

3 T olive oil

2 t crushed red pepper flakes

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 28-0z cans crushed tomatoes

salt to taste

2 T basil leaves, julienned

1 t oregano leaves, chopped

Combine olive oil, red pepper and garlic in cold saucepan. Heat to medium, stirring while heating. Cook for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and stir to heat. Add salt to taste, and let simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in basil and oregano, and add meatballs (once baked).

Serve meatballs and sauce over pasta. Sprinkle with parmesan if desired. Serves 6.

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Filed under Beef, Gluten-Free, Main Dishes, Pasta