Monday, June 16, 2014

Clean out the Fridge Lasagna

I have a small problem when I go to the grocery store.  See, what happens is I walk in and think "OMG I need to buy food for my Duggar sized family.  Yes, I will get a 4 pound box of spinach, I will eat all of that before it goes bad in 4 days, because I'm a health nut and there are multiple other people in my home".  Funnily enough, this is not actually what happens.  I know, I know, it's really shocking.  So, about once a month (sometimes more or less depending on my current level of grocery shopping fervor), I try to make things that incorporate all the things in my fridge.  Usually, it's boring and/or weird (like this veggie casserole mess I made last summer), but sometimes I shock myself and I make something delightful, like this lasagna.

There are many lovely things about this lasagna.  First and foremost, lasagna in any form is freaking delicious. I love to try new kinds of this magical dish, so if you have recipes, please send them my way.  I mean, how could you not like bubbly, melty cheese with a rich and comforting sauce, all encased in layers of delicious, delicious carbs?  Seriously, I just finished my lunch (guess what, it was lasagna) and I'm hungry again writing about it.

The second best thing about lasagna, is that it's nearly impossible to make it taste bad, therefore, you can use up whatever it is you have when you make it.  I had some bell peppers, celery, carrots, ground turkey, and spinach.  Now all those things are snuggled up in my fridge, positively contributing to the goodness and beauty that is lasagna.

Ok, now that I've waxed poetic about this stuff, I will give you a recipe.  Sorry, I just really freaking love lasagna.



Clean Out the Fridge Lasagna:

For the Sauce:
2-3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Bell Peppers
3 Stalks Celery
3 Carrots, Peeled
2 Small Onions (or one regular sized one)
4 Cloves of Garlic
2 28 Oz Cans Crushed Tomatoes
1 Lb Ground Turkey
2 Bay Leaves
Salt, Pepper, and Italian Seasoning
Red Wine

For the Ricotta:
1 15 Oz Container Ricotta (I used whole milk because I think the low fat kind is gross, but it doesn't make much difference)
5-6 Cups Spinach
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

The Rest:
Lasagna Noodles (I get the no boil, because I'm lazy)
Shredded Mozzarella

I decided to try a new technique and food processor the veggies first.  I think it was a good decision; the sauce came out as a cross between my regular marinara and turkey bolognase.  This whole process is fairly time consuming, but it's good, so it's worth it.  Also, this makes a TON of sauce, I used some for this lasagna and I think I could make another 2 with the leftovers.  So, it's sitting in the freezer now, waiting for inspiration.

So, throw all the veggies into the food processor and let it go until they're the size you want.  I definitely erred on the side of more chopped, but be careful not to just pulverize it into baby food.  Unless you're going to feed it to a baby.



Heat up the olive oil in a large pot.  Add the chopped veggies and season with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning.  Don't hold back with the seasonings, it makes a huge difference and since this is a massive amount of food, it's going to be fairly difficult to over-do it.

Once the veggies have softened, add in the turkey.  It's highly recommended that you defrost it first; however, I did not and it was fine.  It just takes a lot more elbow grease to break it up.

Brown the turkey, then season a bit more.  I think next time I'd brown the turkey first, because it was a little hard to see with it mixed in with the veggies, but it doesn't really matter.  You're going to cook this for a good. long while, so it's going to get cooked.

Then, add in the tomatoes, bay leaves, and wine.  I guess I used around a half a cup of wine?  I would have skipped it, but there was some open already.  Season some more and stir it all up.

Then, let it come to a simmer and simmer for 30-40 minutes.  You want for everything to have a long time to get all flavorified.  Taste occasionally and adjust seasonings as you think appropriate. 



While this is happening, steam the spinach.  This is way easy, just put about a half a cup of water into a large pan, then, when it's about to boil, add the spinach.  Throw a lid on and let it cook for 2-3 minutes.  You might want to give it a stir or two, so that the top part actually reaches the heat.  Remove from pan and let cool.

Once it's cool, stir it in with the ricotta.  Add a little bit of oil and some seasonings.  Now you're done.



Now, the actual lasagna making part.  Pre-heat the oven to 350.  In a baking dish, layer her up.  I used a small one because I only had a few lasagna noodles and didn't want to get more (remember, cleaning out, not adding in).

Put a layer of sauce on the bottom, then some noodles.  Add more sauce.

Then about half the ricotta mixture and a few handfuls of the mozz.



Noodles, sauce, ricotta, mozz.



You could keep going if you had more noodles or wanted to feed a bigger crowd, but I ran out of noodles.

Bake at 350 for about 45 min, until the cheese is bubbly and brown on top.  Allow to cool for at least 5 minutes before digging in, I think it makes it hold together better.

Slice yourself a big ole piece and dig in, you've earned it!



I know this seems like a fairly involved project, and in some ways it is, but it's not overly complicated.  Just time consuming.  I did this on a Sunday afternoon and it was perfect, but I definitely would't recommend that you start this at 8pm on a Tuesday when you're already hungry, because the whole process ends up taking 2-3 hours.  That being said, it's delicious and completely worth it!

Question of the Day:

What's your favorite way to clear out the fridge? 

1 comment:

  1. I love this! I definitely have those days where I need to use up everything in the fridge. I'll absolutely make this soon! :)

    ReplyDelete