20 December 2006
what's cooking wednesday: calabrian stuffed lasagna

Today's featured dish is Calabrian stuffed lasagna made with a meat tomato sauce, ham, eggs, and cheese. My grandmother never made lasagna as she didn't particularly care for it, so I've never developed a taste for the typical Italian-American mozzarella and ricotta concoction. But when P's mom made this "sagne chjine" (pronounced "SAHN-yeh KYEE-neh"), I was hooked.

Incidentally, so is P judging from the fact that I've been making this recipe once a week for the past two months. It'll probably play a part in our Christmas meal as well, so I thought now would be a good time to share.

Notice there's no mozzarella, no ricotta, and no
besciamella, a common ingredient in many Italian lasagna recipes. This dish does take some prep work, but all together--from making the sauce to taking the finished lasagna from the oven--it should take about 2 hours total.

You can (gasp!) use jarred sauce to save time. I also use boxed lasagna noodles that require no pre-cooking. I love these, as it cuts cooking time in half, and the noodles stay
al dente rather than get mushy.

Before you start making the sauce, I recommend putting on 4 eggs to boil; this way, they'll be ready to be chopped while you're waiting for the sauce to finish cooking.

Calabrian Stuffed Lasagna
(serves 6-8)

For sauce:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium sweet onion chopped finely
3 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1 lb. ground meat
1/4 cup red wine
28 oz. can peeled tomatoes, coarsely chopped or passed through grinder
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped finely 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon peperoncino

In a saucepan, add olive oil over medium heat. Sauté onions until translucent (3 to 5 minutes), then add garlic and sauté until just starting to turn light brown (about 2 minutes).

Add ground meat, stirring with a wooden spoon. When the meat is lightly browned with little to no pink remaining, add wine. Let wine cook off for about 3-5 minutes.

Lower the heat and add tomatoes. This is the type of grinder I use:

If you don't have one of these, you need to revise your Christmas list. But for now, just make sure the tomatoes are coarsely chopped.

Add parsley, salt, and peperoncino, and let cook on low to medium heat for about 35 minutes. You'll know when the sauce is ready by taste-testing; the tomatoes should no longer taste "raw."

For the filling:

4 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
1/2 lb. prosciutto cotto (cooked ham), torn into pieces
1 lb. provola (smoked mozzarella), cubed (substitutes include imported extra sharp provolone or Sicilian scamorza provolone)
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
One box of lasagna noodles

While the sauce is cooking, prepare all of the above ingredients. Once the sauce is finished, your working area should look something like this:

To assemble the lasagna, spread a layer of sauce on the bottom of an 8 x 10 inch pan, then place a layer of noodles. Add more sauce to the top of the noodles, making sure to cover them well, then put a third of the egg, ham, and cheese cubes on the layer. It will look like this:

A tip: When layering your lasagna, if your noodles don't exactly fit the pan (like mine don't), alternate the lay-out so that the lasagna stays together better. For instance, if one layer looks like this:

Layer your next level of noodles like this:

Now, after your first layer with all the ingredients, continue layering until you run out of ham and egg. Your top layer will be just sauce and cubed cheese. Then sprinkle the Pecorino Romano on top.

Bake in oven at 400° F for about a half hour. I cover mine with foil for the first 20 minutes, then remove so the top gets a little crispy without drying out.

Note that this recipe can easily be transformed into a vegetarian delight. Leave the meat out of the sauce and add your favorite vegetables to the layers. Slice and sauté mushrooms, artichokes, peas (or whatever you prefer) in olive oil before you layer them into the lasagna.

And remember to check out Shannon's original What's Cooking Wednesday at
Tales from the Fairy Blogmother.

Buon appetito!

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Anonymous J.Doe said...

That looks so good! I prefer lasagna made with becemella, but many people are used to the lasagna made in america with Ricotta.

Blogger Delina said...

Yummmmeeee! Lasagna is a very flexible dish - can be done in so many ways - your way looks perfect!

Blogger sognatrice said...

J, to be honest, I think I'd prefer it with besciamella too, but P is against most dairy (except cheese), not for an allergy, just because he didn't grow up with it. One of these days, I'll sneak it in though ;)

Delina, if you try this out, let me know if I wrote the directions OK. I'm not used to writing recipes yet...I find myself acting like my grandmother: "I don't *know* how much of what goes in!"

Blogger christina said...

That looks fabulous! Thanks for sharing! I still have the family lasagna recipe using ricotta and mozzarella. I'll have to try yours one of these days. :-)


Blogger Elle said...

Ohhh yum - Lidl are doing those grindy things (Sorry Lidl crazy today!)... I wanted to get one. I've only recently been introduced to the kitchen - didn't know what the grindy thing was - but it was so shiny and I just had to have it. I did't get it for fear of being told off for spending too much money - but I may just make a trip back there tomorrow!

Blogger Shan said...

Oh that looks yummy. I'll have to give that a try.

I love to make lasagna. It's of the ricotta/mozzarella variety. I think it's pretty good, but so many ethnic foods we have here are bastardized versions of the original recipe. Maya's Godmother is Italian, her parents immigrated here. I was mortified when she insisted on taking some of my lasagna home with her. I begged her not to let her Mom or worse yet her Nonna eat it. I didn't need that kind of stress, but surprisingly enough they liked it. They may have just been being polite, but whatever, I'll take it.

Blogger sognatrice said...

Christina and Shan, rest assured there is a special place among lasagne for ricotta and mozzarella. Like Delina said above, lasagna is so versatile--you can throw just about anything in that you like. Oh, comfort food :)

Elle, confession: I had no idea what the shiny silver thing was either when P's mom gave me one (she obviously had a feeling I didn't have one b/c she gave me this literally within a week of our relationship starting). It's awesome, really. I hope you got back to Lidl :)

Blogger Tracey said...

I have the same cheese grater! It sits on top of a glass container and has a green lid. I bought it in Rome.

As for the tomato press - that is an absolute must for the Italian kitchen. I am Australian with Italian parents and my mother gave me one of those when I first moved out of home. Now I live in Paris and within 2 days of arriving here - I made my husband take me to the BHV to buy one!

Blogger sognatrice said...

Tracey, sorry I just saw this comment now, many months later, but I definitely agree with you that the tomato grinder is a MUST. I didn't even know how much I needed it until I came here ;)

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