The Big Family party is just few hours away and I still have post-vacation debris strewn around the house. Margaret calls. So what’s on the menu?
I start listing what I know for sure. Um. Coke and chips.
Coke and chips? Margaret laughs.
Well, so far. I open the freezer. I have a vague memory of there being something in there I can thaw. Last month’s Shepherd’s Pie? I spy some frost-bitten meat patties from Trader Joe’s. Maybe hamburgers! I look at the expiration date: 2004. Hmmmm. Maybe not. I pick through the back of the freezer. Don’t have buns anyways.
I’ll make something, says Margaret.
After a Oh, don’t do that! It’s the default setting of the middle child, right? A middle child who’s the hostess? (What was I thinking! Refusing help when I so obviously needed it.) To defend my insincere and foolish protest: Margaret was already bringing her Famous—very famous–Chocolate Chip Cookies—see next week’s blog for our Great Chocolate Chip Cookie Contest, otherwise known as the GCCCC around here.
But Margaret interrupts, Nope, Nope. I’m making something.
I stop protesting. I mean, in an hour I’ll have 15 people here. But I just can’t agree without laying down some conditions that keep her from working too hard on my account. So I say, Don’t go out shopping for ingredients. I’ve got a ton of chips. Just make something from what you’ve got on hand. This last statement, by the way, is a mutation of Patty’s Supper Protocol: Open the frig. Rub my chin and say, ‘So what’s for supper?’ And then make a dish that comes from ingredients that hibernate on the shelves.
Margaret says, No problem, I’ve got everything I need right here.
And she does. While I think bread would have been better than chips as a side, the lasagna was inhaled by all our eaters. Everyone went home with copies of the recipe. Here it is all neatened up.
LASAGNA A LA MARGARET
|Ingredients and a Bit of TalkThis recipe tolerates ingredient substitution, but the one Must Have is the No-cook noodle. Here goes.||What to do with it all and a Bit of Talk too.|
|Assembly is important in lasagna. You’re building it. Use of the no-cook lasagne pasta removes a real hassle. You don’t need to cook anything before you pop it in the oven! It’s truly a five minute gourmet dish, unlike some of our others… ||A 9 by 15 pan works great if you don’t overlap, but the no-cook box says overlap. We’ve experimented and no-overlap works just as well as overlap.|
|Shopping list: (although with this story, Margaret couldn’t break the don’t shop for heavens sake rule) one box of no cook Barilli is Absolutely Essential. A sauce could include one 24 oz jar of spaghetti sauce doctored with one 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes; one pint of ricotta; small bag of shredded, part-skim mozzarella (about 2 cups); one cup part-skim parmesan cheese (to make it the best grate your own or buy it grated, the jarred parmesean has “stuff” in it.); chicken sausage—the kind that’s cooked already—one package—any flavor, except for blueberry that probably won’t be good, but hey, who knows); half a bag of spinach, like about as much as a box of spinach, the steam-fresh bag of spinach is best, don’t need to cook, chopped;|
|Open box and begin layering||When layering lasagna, slightly overlap sheets|
|1st layer||Spread one cup of sauce on bottom|
|Put four sheets, overlapping|
|On the noodles put spoonfuls of ricotta|
|Sprinkle shredded cheeses on top|
|Put slices of the chicken sausage|
|Put a little more sauce|
|2nd layer||Put more noodles|
|Colorful!||Put all of the spinach|
|3rd layer||More noodles|
|4th and final||Noodles sauce and cheeses|
|Noodles are thirsty so don’t skimp on the sauce|
|Bake covered for 50 to 60 minutes at 375. Cover very tightly.|
|Do the listen-for-the-bubble thing|
|Uncover for about 5 minutes. Continue cooking until the cheese is all melted and browned. Let it stand for 10 minutes or so. The resting is important. This helps the whole thing solidify, firm up so it doesn’t slip off the spatula when serving.|