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A (Very) Nice Lasagna

I recently came across food writer Julia Turshen’s simple lasagna — what she calls “a nice lasagna”, and was instantly drawn to its simplicity—there’s no meat, no layers of roasted veg or ricotta, just a rosé tomato sauce and fresh basil, and plenty of cheese. Best of all, it utilizes fresh pasta sheets, which you can mix up and roll with a rolling pin—no pasta machine required! (Though they are a lot of fun.) And then you just go ahead and layer the rolled-out pasta dough directly in the pan with the sauce and cheese, no need to boil it first, which is ridiculously satisfying. You could, of course, add all manner of meat and veg sauce, or ricotta, or anything else you like, but I love that this is not at all over the top- a big spoonful of crème fraîche or sour cream turns the sauce into a rosé that takes care of my craving for tomato and cheese that ricotta usually satisfies.

Julia’s pasta formula is 2 1/4 cups flour with 3 eggs and water as needed, blitzed in the food processor until the dough comes together, but I got into the habit of using a ratio of 1 cup flour to 2 eggs and just stirring it together by hand, which is also ridiculously satisfying, and fun to do with other people (especially kids) around. So I did that, and used a can of crushed tomatoes along with the whole ones just to thicken things up a bit. Despite the fact that this is made with fresh pasta (which seems so fancy! and yes, you can totally pick some up at the Italian market), this is a more streamlined version I can totally make on a regular weekday. (But also at times I want to get just a little fancy.)

A Nice Lasagna

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February 12, 2020

Ingredients

Pasta:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

4 large eggs

The rest:

olive oil, for cooking

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 cans whole or plum tomatoes (I used 1 whole, and 1 puree)

salt

1/2-1 cup crème fraîche or full-fat sour cream

a big handful of fresh basil

grated mozzarella

grated Parmesan

Directions

1In a medium bowl, stir together the flour and salt. Make a well in the middle and crack in the eggs. Stir up the eggs with a fork, and start incorporating the flour until it’s all mixed in, and you have a soft, sticky dough. Knead for a few minutes incorporating more flour on the counter if it’s too sticky to handle, until it’s fairly soft. Wrap in plastic and let rest at room temp or refrigerate for at least half an hour.

2When you’re ready to make the lasagna, heat a generous drizzle of oil in a medium saucepan and add the garlic; cook for a minute, until it starts to sizzle and turn pale golden. Add the tomatoes, squeezing them with your hands into the pot to break them up, and add their juices too, and a big pinch of salt. Simmer for about 20 minutes, until it reduces. (I find when I use some crushed or pureed tomatoes, it doesn’t take as long.) Stir in the crème fraîche or sour cream.

3As it simmers, preheat the oven to 400?F. Divide the pasta dough into 6 pieces and roll each into a rounded square or rectangle about the thickness of a playing card. To assemble the lasagna, ladle some sauce into a 9x13-inch pan and spread it over the bottom. Make a layer of two pasta sheets, however they fit (to make a single layer), and top with another ladle or two of sauce, and scatter with torn basil, mozzarella and Parmesan. Repeat with more pasta, sauce, basil, cheeses, and top with another layer of pasta, sauce and cheese.

4Bake for about 40 minutes, until bubbly and golden. Let stand for at least 10 minutes before serving. Serves 8ish.

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3 comments on “A (Very) Nice Lasagna

  1. Carol S-B
    February 12, 2020 at 11:42 am

    oh, this looks so amazing.
    I think this might be my new favourite “I don’t wanna go grocery shopping: what’s in the cupboard?” kind of meal.

  2. Cory
    February 12, 2020 at 12:34 pm

    This looks like a winner! Making tonight for a pre-valentines day dinner for my husband and kids. To continue with the fancy theme I might make a Baked Alaska for dessert using the double boiler method for the meringue before whipping it and torching the meringue instead of baking it. Maybe starting with a tomato and olive salad. Excited to make it and eat it!! Thanks for the recipe Julie!

  3. Alex
    February 16, 2020 at 7:57 pm

    This is a favourite in our house! If I want something more substantial I brown a pound or so of Italian sausage before adding the tomatoes.

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