This is my dish for the I Heart Cooking Clubs October Potluck. Who doesn't love a lasagna at a potluck? This is a basic lasagna with a tomato sauce and bechamel sauce sandwiched between layers of noodles, simple and delicious. I made this for our unofficial monthly lasagna night, usually a weekend day when there is nothing planned, and I have plenty of time to make picky husband's favorite meat lasagna and a vegetarian friendly lasagna. The kids get to pick whichever lasagna they want, and we always have enough leftovers for a few quick lunches during the busy week.
This is the second Tessa Kiros recipe I've try (thank you, IHCC) and another good one! Here is what Tessa has to say about her Tomato Lasagne in the book Apples for Jam...
"This is a straightforward recipe to which you can add a few blobs of goat's cheese, some dollops of pesto, a little cooked spinach, or broiled long slices of zucchini between the layers. This is just lasagne noodles, a good tomato sauce, and bechamel, and my children love it..." I love all of Tessa's suggestions for add-ins and was planning to use a special limited batch goat's cheese I have in the cheese drawer, but I completely forgot to add it in while making this, so this is the plain and simple version...
Tessa Kiros -- Apples for Jam
1/2 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled but left whole
3 (14-ounce) cans diced tomatoes -- I used two cans of whole San Marzanos and one can of regular diced tomatoes
About 12 basil leaves, torn
1 cup hot water -- I only used about 1/2 cup
1/4 lb butter
2/3 cup all purpose flour
4 cups milk, warmed -- I used skim
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg -- I used ground, about 1/4 teaspoon
3/4 (16 ounce) package lasagne noodles
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
For the tomato sauce, heat the oil and garlic in a large pan. When you begin to smell the garlic, add the tomatoes and a good pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook uncovered for about 20 to 25 minutes, until it has all merged into a sauce. Add the basil and 1 cup of hot water toward the end of the cooking time. Puree until smooth, minus the garlic if you'd prefer. (I didn't puree, just mashed with a potato masher, garlic and all)
To make the bechamel, melt the butter in a small (I'd say medium) saucepan over lower heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly, then begin adding the warm milk. It will be immediately absorbed, so work quickly, whisking with one hand while adding ladlefuls of milk with the other. When the sauce seems to be smooth and not too stiff, add salt, pepper, and a grating of nutmeg and continue cooking, even after it comes to a boil, for five minutes or so, mixing all the time. It should be a very thick and smooth sauce.
Preheat the oven to 350 and grease a deep 8 1/2 by 12 inch baking dish. Drizzle some bechamel over the bottom of the dish to cover it very thinly. Put a slightly overlapping layer of lasagne noodles on top. Dollop a thin layer of tomato sauce over that, spreading it with the back of the ladle. Add about two ladlefuls of bechamel in long drizzles, and the cover with a sprinkling of parmesan. Add another layer of lasagne noodles, then tomato, bechamel, and parmesan as before, and then repeat the layers one more time. I just repeated until I was at the top of my baking dish and out of bechamel, I did have about 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce left. You should have about 4 tablespoons of tomato sauce and a good amount of bechamel left. Make a final layer of lasagna noodles and cover with all the remaining bechamel. Dollop the tomato sauce here and there and sprinkle with and remaining parmesan.
Bake for about 30 minutes, or until it is bubbling and golden on top. Serves 6 to 8.
This was a delicious dinner. The bechamel was so rich and creamy, one small serving of this lasagna was very filling. My two oldest wanted meat lasagna, so only my youngest, who is four, and I ate this one but we both liked it. I wouldn't hesitate to make it again, and definitely think Tessa's add-in suggestions would be fabulous. The leftovers were great reheated in the microwave, and I think that it tasted even better the second day :)