Lasagna is normally a dish many people throw together with a few ingredients and don’t give it too much thought. I’m somewhat of a detail nut as a simple perusal through my blog will display, so lasagna is a an event when I make it. I usually break it up over the course of two days because I like to make my own ricotta cheese (here), my own meat sauce (in this case a Roasted Tomato-Spicy Meatball Sauce and homemade pasta sheets. Like I said any of these individual steps can be done on one day, then another step another day to lighten the load. An it makes A LOT, so I like to use little foil roasting pans to make a bunch of individual sized ones that freeze beautifully so I’m well stocked for awhile.
SPICY MEATBALL LASAGNA
For the Heritage Wheat Blend Pasta:
2 cups Gold Forest Grains spelt flour, sifted after measuring
1-1/2 cups Gold Forest Grains Park wheat flour, sifted after measuring (keep 2 Tbsp of the sifted bran and add it back to the flour. It adds a coarse texture much like how semolina works in traditional Italian pasta)
4 Sunshine Organic large eggs
1/4 cup Mighty Trio Organics cold pressed canola oil
Water as needed
In a medium bowl, combine the spelt and Park wheat flour (with bran). Make a well in the middle of the flour, add the eggs and oil. Beat the eggs and oil together in the middle of the depression in the flour, then gradually start to work it into the flour mixture. If the mixture is still too dry after pinching the mixture together, add a tablespoon or two of water to tighten up the dough. Turn the dough out on to the counter and knead until smooth (about 7-10 minutes). Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour (or leave until you are ready to assemble if you are doing it ahead by a day or two).
To roll (done when ready to assemble):
Split the dough into 8 pieces. Form one piece into a rough rectangle with a short width no wider than a countertop pasta roller (if using. If you are rolling by hand with a rolling pin, just use your pan as a guide for width). Roll the dough through the pasta roller on the lowest setting. Turn the rolling mechanism knob to one step higher (making the rolling mechanisms just a bit tighter together). Roll the dough through again. Repeat until you turn the knob tightening to one setting shy of the highest (my roller goes to a setting of 8. Others go to 10. Just go one number shy of the highest).
Cut into lengths suitable for the length of your lasagna pan. Lay out on a lightly floured sheet of wax paper. Repeat with remaining dough. Proceed after other components are done.
For the ricotta filling:
2 cups Whole Milk Ricotta
1 cup, each, shredded Sylvan Star Cheese gruyere and Italian Herb Gouda
2 Sunshine Organic large eggs, beaten
4 Tbsp August Organics dry oregano
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp crushed dried chilli
In a medium bowl, combine, the ricotta, cheeses, eggs, oregano, salt, pepper and dried chilli. Set aside until ready to assemble (can be done the day before).
Roasted Tomato-Spicy Meatball Sauce:
For the Spicy Meatballs:
450g/1 lb Sunshine Organic lean ground beef
450g/1 lb Sunshine Organic ground pork
450g/1 lb Sunshine Organic spicy Italian sausage meat
2 slices whole wheat bread
1/4 cup chicken stock (I use homemade)
2 Tbsp August Organics dry oregano
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs (I grind my own in a food processor from whole wheat bread crusts I leave in my cold oven overnight to dry)
Preheat oven to 210C/425F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Place the bread and stock in a small bowl and allow to soak for 10 minutes.
In a medium bowl, combine the ground beef, sausage meat, eggs, and oregano. Squeeze out the excess broth that absorbed into the bread slices and add the soaked bread into the mix with the dry breadcrumbs. Blend together with your hands until uniformly combined.
Form the mixture into small 1 tsp-sized meatballs. Place them on the prepared baking sheets. They can be placed very close together on the pan. When all the mixture is formed into meatballs, roast in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes or until golden on the outside.
To prepare the sauce:
Prepared Spicy Meatballs
2 tsp Mighty Trio Organics cold pressed canola oil
1 Doef’s Greenhouses fresh red chilli, finely chopped
10 cups Roasted Tomato Sauce (or your favourite tomato sauce, or Italian passata)
In a large pot over medium high heat, sauté the garlic and chilli in oil for 2 minutes until fragrant but not browned. Immediately add the tomato sauce and meatballs. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium low, cover with a lid and simmer for 25-30 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature (can be done a day before assembly).
To assemble the Spicy Meatball Lasagna:
Prepared Roasted Tomato-Spicy Meatball Sauce
Prepared Ricotta Filling
Prepared and rolled Heritage Wheat Blend Pasta
3-4 cups Roasted Tomato Sauce (or your favourite tomato sauce or Italian passata)
2 cups shredded Sylvan Star Cheese gruyere
In a large pot of boiling water, cook the pasta sheets, a few sheets at a time, for 60-90 seconds.
In a lasagna pan (or a series of small foil roasting pans, if using), add enough Roasted Tomato Sauce to just cover the bottom of the pan. Place a cooked pasta sheet on the sauce. Spread with enough ricotta filling to cover the cooked pasta sheet.
Ladle a bit of Roasted Tomato Sauce over the ricotta. Top with another cooked pasta sheet.
Ladle some of the Roasted Tomato-Spicy Meatball Sauce over the top of the pasta sheet, ensuring there is ample meatballs over the entire layer.
Sprinkle with some of the shredded gruyere cheese and another cooked pasta sheet. Spread more Roasted Tomato Sauce over the top and finish with more shredded gruyere cheese.
Bake in a preheated 180C/350F oven for 55-60 minutes or until deeply golden on top.
Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before cutting. Makes enough for 10-12 individual foil baking pans of lasagna (about 6cm/3″ x 24cm/8″ pans) with some meatballs leftover for another use (I like a good meatball sandwich for lunch from time to time).