Meatless Lasagna Arrabbiata




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Meatless Lasagna Arrabiata ~ arrabiata, meaning angry, is a classic spicy hot Roman pasta sauce, and my version here is full of fiery chili pepper flakes, scorched roasted tomatoes, and garlic.  


This particular lasagna also has a kinder, gentler side to it, made with delicate fresh sheets of pasta, ricotta scooped and drained just moments before baking, milky white shards of mozzarella so fresh it’s impossible to slice, and basil leaves pinched and placed as needed right from the bouquet.

I made this entire dish, including the fresh ricotta, while talking long distance to my sister in California, with the phone balanced in the crook of my neck.  Like most lasagnas, it’s not difficult, just time consuming, so the conversation was a good distraction.

As lasagnas go, this one is very simple.  No meat, no veggies.  I wanted the focus to be on the contrast between the spicy sauce and the delicate freshness of the pasta noodles and cheeses.  I found the fresh frozen pasta sheets at Terra Cotta, a small New England chain that specializes in artisan pasta.  If you can’t find fresh, use no-boil noodles instead.

It was too late in the day to get much in the way of photos, but I wanted to post this anyway because, since we’re inching towards spring, it could be a while before I make another lasagna.

Leftovers?  Even better.

Meatless Lasagna Arrabbiata
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Ingredients

    For the fresh ricotta
  • 1/2 gallon whole milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • the juice of 1 lemon (1/4 cup)
    For the lasagna
  • 4 full sheets of fresh pasta, cut, if necessary, to fit your baking pan (You can also use no-boil noodles)
  • 1 batch fresh ricotta (see recipe below)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 10-12 plum tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
  • 4-5 cloves garlic
  • olive oil
  • Italian seasoning
  • salt and fresh pepper
  • 1 large jar of plain tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp hot red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup red wine
  • 2 balls of fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced or shredded
  • 1 large bunch fresh basil
  • Freshly grated Parmesan

Instructions

    For the fresh ricotta
  1. Put the milk and salt in a heavy bottomed pot and heat until almost boiling over medium heat.  You will see bubbles starting to roil under the surface.  If your milk actually boils, that's ok, just take it off the heat and continue.
  2. Stir in the lemon juice and set the pan off the heat.  Let it sit for a minute; the curds will start to form immediately.
  3. Gently scoop out the curds into a cheesecloth lined strainer set over a bowl to catch the excess liquid.  As you scoop, more curds will be forming.  Be sure to get all the curds...the remaining liquid will be thin and watery.
  4. Turn the drained ricotta out from the cheesecloth into a bowl, and it's ready to use or store.
    For the lasagna
  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. If you are using frozen pasta sheets, open them and let them thaw on the counter, they thaw quickly.
  3. Put the cloves of garlic (skin on) and the tomatoes cut side up on an oiled baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with Italian seasoning.  Roast them in the hot oven for about 1/2 hour or until they are shrunken and well roasted.  When done, turn the oven down to 350.
  4. Put the tomatoes in a blender or food processor.  Squeeze the pulp out of the garlic cloves and add them to the tomatoes.  Pulse the mixture until roughly pureed.
  5. Pour the bottled  tomato sauce into a bowl and add the roasted tomato mixture, the hot pepper flakes, and wine to it.  Stir to blend and salt to taste.  Set aside.
  6. Take the ricotta and blend it with the beaten egg and 1 tsp salt.  Set aside.
  7. Ladle a little of the sauce on the bottom of your lasagna baker and spread it out.  Lay 1 pasta sheet on top.  Spread or dollop 1/3 of the ricotta mixture over the pasta and lay out basil leaves to cover the layer.  Ladle sauce on top, covering the entire layer.  Add 1/4 of the mozzerella, and spread out evenly.
  8. Top with the second sheet of pasta and, using a spatula, press it down evenly so it is as flat as possible.  Layer it the same way, starting with the ricotta and basil, then sauce, then mozzerella. Remember to flatten out each pasta sheet as you go.
  9. Layer the third sheet and finally top the lasagna with the fourth sheet of pasta.  Ladle a layer of sauce over the entire top, add the last 1/4 of mozzerella, and top liberally with grated Parmesan.  You want this to be fairly 'saucy', but not drowning in it.  I had a bit leftover.  Cover loosely with non-stick foil and put in a 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes.  Take off the foil and bake another 10 minutes until bubbling throughout.

 

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10 Comments

  • Reply
    Magnolia Verandah
    February 24, 2012 at 12:14 am

    I wish I had read this last night when I wanted ricotta for my 3 cheese, egg and bacon peasant pie. Never knew it could be so simple to make.

  • Reply
    Claudia
    February 23, 2012 at 11:50 pm

    I love the creamy-smooth mixed with fiery red spices. And that you made your own ricotta! It looks wonderful and am bookmarking it – because in MN – spring is at least 2 months away!

  • Reply
    Anonymous
    February 24, 2012 at 2:35 am

    I’ve been making homemade ricotta for the last 2 years – you will never want to buy from the store again.
    You can use the whey to cook the pasta, make risotto or added to whipped potatoes. If you make the pasta risotto ala Mark Bittman – the whey can be used instead of water- makes it very creamy. Can’t attest to this but wikipedia says Dairy whey remaining from home-made cheesemaking has many uses. It is a flour conditioner and can be substituted for milk in most baked good recipes that require milk (bread, pancakes, muffins, etc). Whey is also good to add protein to breakfast smoothies. If you have no use for it in the kitchen, you can pour it on acid-loving plants in your yard, such as azaleas, raspberries, rhododendrons and strawberries.
    Love your blog!!

  • Reply
    Sulpicia (III)
    February 24, 2012 at 1:35 am

    I love homemade lasagne! One of my favorite things, although I’ve never made the ricotta myself. Looks delicious.

  • Reply
    Amy
    February 23, 2012 at 11:58 pm

    Woah! Bookmarking this one, it looks (and sounds) absolutely fantastic.

  • Reply
    mr. pineapple man
    February 23, 2012 at 11:34 pm

    Your blog is torture!!! Making me hungry all over again (by the way I just finished dinner) :)

  • Reply
    yummychunklet
    February 23, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    What a delicious sounding lasagna recipe. Looks great!

  • Reply
    Stephanie
    February 23, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    I too need to get on board with the homemade cheese…the lasagna looks killer!

  • Reply
    Mary
    February 23, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    Love this. I’ve been wanting to make cheese for ages, but it always seems ridiculously complicated. This is about as simple as it gets and I have a ton of extra milk in the fridge this week! I think I’ll try it today. Thanks, Sue!

    Your lasagna looks awesome. I haven’t made a lasagna in years and yours is very tempting. Oh, and by the way, my bluetooth earbud totally rocks when I’m working in the kitchen. ;)

  • Reply
    From Beyond My Kitchen Window
    February 23, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    I have to make the ricotta. It couldn’t be easier, wow I never knew!!! The whole dish actually is fantastic.

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