How many times have you wondered what to do with those leftover items in your refrigerator or freezer?  Take stock of what you have and imagine what you could do with them.  My latest creation was Lasagna, and delicious Lasagna it was.  The following is what I had in my refrigerator, freezer and cupboard.

  • ½ lb. Lasagna Noodles –left over from a previous larger lasagna dinner
  • 2/3 can Crushed Tomatoes – left over from Pizza Night
  • Sliced, cooked Italian Sausage & Bell Peppers (frozen) – left over from Italian Pizza Rolls
  • Minced Basil in Olive Oil – mincing and mixing with Olive Oil will lengthen the life of the Basil – it will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.  You can also add minced Garlic  and Balsamic Vinegar – it will be ready to use for salads, sautéing or as a marinade for    meat.
  • Butter, Flour and Milk

Not to let anything go to waste, I decided to incorporate these leftover ingredients into a small lasagna dinner for 4 people.  The items I needed to buy were:

  • 1 lb. each Mozzarella and Ricotta Cheese
  • Sliced Mushrooms

The other items that I used and did have on hand were an Onion, some Garlic and Olive Oil and Marsala Wine and dried Oregano.

Here is the sequential order  preparing the Lasagna:

Cook the Noodles in Boiling Salted Water in a 3 quart saucepan  for 4 minutes; drained in a colander and arranged on plastic wrap in a single layer to keep them from sticking together.

Heat Olive Oil in a 10″ saute pan;   sauté the  minced Onion and Mushrooms along with 1 tsp. of Salt and then add the minced Garlic.  Once the Vegetables are cooked  (just starting to caramelize)  add some Wine and let that cook down.  Next came the crushed Tomatoes, sliced cooked Sausage and Peppers and some dried Oregano and ½ tsp.  Black Pepper I let the mixture simmer while I prepared the rest of the ingredients and added 2 Tbsps. of the Basil/Olive Oil mixture at the end of the cooking sequence.  Fresh Herbs should always be added at the end, so that you do not lose their flavor.  Dried Herbs can be added at the beginning or during the cooking process.

Shred the Mozzarella Cheese and set aside.  Melt 1 Tbsp. Butter in a small saucepan  and then add the 1 Tbsp. Flour.  Stir until a paste forms.  Stir in 1 cup of Milk and cook until the mixture thickens.  Add ½ tsp. Salt and ¼ tsp. White Pepper and 1-2 Tbsps. of the Basil/Olive oil mixture.  Stir in 1 cup of Ricotta Cheese.  Refrigerate the remaining Ricotta for another use.

To assemble the Lasagna, spread a small amount of Olive Oil in the bottom of a  9×9 or 10x 10 inch baking dish and add 1 layer of Lasagna Noodles.  Spread a small amount of the Ricotta mixture over the Noodles; add a small amount of the sauce mixture and then some Mozzarella Cheese.  (I used the whole pound of mozzarella for the lasagna because we like it cheesy, however half pound would have been sufficient.

Add another layer of Noodles, but lay them in the opposite direction of the first layer.  (This will make it easier to cut and serve the lasagna without having it fall apart) Repeat the sequence as described in the previous paragraph.  You should end up with about 3 layers with the top layer being the Mozzarella Cheese.  At this point you can cover and refrigerate until you are ready to cook and serve.

To cook, remove the Lasagna from the refrigerator about ½ hour before you plan to start baking it.  If your baking pan is glass or ceramic, place the Lasagna in a cold oven, turn it on to 350 degrees and bake for approximately half hour or until the ingredients are all hot and the cheese on top is melted and just starting to brown.  (You will know when the lasagna is hot as steam will start coming up from it).

Allow the Lasagna to sit at least five minutes before cutting and serving so that it will set up and not fall apart when served.  Complete the meal with a green salad dressed with Italian Dressing and some fresh Ciabatta Bread and perhaps a glass of Pinot Grigio.

If you would like a complete Lasagna Recipe, please send an e-mail to [email protected]

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