Thousand Layer Lasagna
The minute I heard that magical phrase, I knew it was something I had to eat. The description of ultra thin egg noodles surrounded by tomato sauce, mozzarella and parmesan and the crispy edges it all formed when baked in the oven were burned into my brain and I knew I'd have my day with the multi-layered dish soon.
I decided to do the whole thing by hand- after all, I had purchased a pasta roller almost two years ago and only used it a few times. Every time I'd made homemade pasta before, I remember thinking how easy it was. I decided to make spinach noodles, so I simply blanched a couple of cups of baby spinach, rung it out and blended it with the eggs and olive oil before forming a dough with the flour. I used Mario Batali's egg noodle recipe from the Babbo cookbook, as well as his Basic Tomato Sauce. Let me tell you- that tomato sauce is a keeper. SUPER simple but so well balanced - I'll be making it forever. It's just olive oil, canned whole tomatoes, garlic, thyme, onions and carrots. Pure, simple and lovely.
After I let the pasta dough rest for 30 minutes, I started the process of rolling it. Since the whole point of Thousand Layer Lasagna is to get the pasta as thin as possible, this took a lot of time. That one dough ball was enough to make maybe not a thousand sheets but it certainly felt like I had! I rolled each sheet until it became paper thin, put them in between sheets of moist paper towels and continued this for about 2 hours. Time consuming, yes, but very relaxing too.
When all the pasta was done, I got my little assembly line ready- the vat of tomato sauce, sheet pan of pasta layers, bowl of grated fresh mozzarella, julienned basil and some finely grated parmesan. I stopped counting after fifteen layers but I think I got to about eighteen total. This actually took quite a bit of time as well since the pasta had to be handled with great care. I popped the lasagna in the oven and waited.........
After about 40 minutes, I took out the hunkin' dish of lasagna, let it rest for another 10 minutes and took it out to the patio. J's parents were in town so my parents came and joined us for dinner. I cut everyone a nice, big slice and dug into a corner piece (hey- it was a lot of work so I had dibs on it!) for myself. It was light and rich at the same time- layers and layers of paper-thin pasta oozing with cheese and tomato sauce. I loved it, although I wished I'd baked it a bit longer to get more of a crust on the edges. Still, it was delicious.
I'm glad that I took the time to make this. For one, I discovered the joy of Mario's basic tomato sauce. I also remembered how much I like making homemade pasta- and other than having to roll it on the thinnest setting- it's very easy and pasta dough is quite resilient. Of course the lasagna itself was reward enough!
We enjoyed the lasagna with a multitude of other goodies of which I will post later!
Have a great weekend!