It’s been a few days. I’ve been in a food coma, and I’ve just woken up for a brief spell to tell you all about it before I dive back into another round tonight.
Birthdays were always about food. Just like most holidays around the world, at least part of the celebration is centered on food. Cake is usually enough for most, maybe a backyard BBQ with hotdogs and hamburgers. Me? No way.
When I was a child, my mother always asked me what I wanted for my birthday dinner. Inevitably I would answer with, “Ummm, uhhhh, lasagna? Oh! and garlic bread too!” Yeah, now that’s a combination. My mom makes THE BEST lasagna on the planet and I could not resist it’s temptation around my birthday. Strangely, some friends of ours invited us over for dinner last night and when we were discussing what to make, the subject of lasagna came up. I jumped on my chance to make it for my own birthday. Such comforting, savory and delicious a dish, it is usually something I don’t make. It is gargantuan (at least my recipe is) and the leftovers scream at me from the fridge until I consume every last bite, so something I usually reserve in my adult life for get togethers and gatherings. I don’t give this recipe to many people, but I think the time has come for The World’s Best Lasagna recipe to have some spotlight. Seriously, it’s good. You will never make another.
2 Tbsp canola oil
1/2 lb. brown crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 small yellow onion
2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
1.5lb extra lean ground beef (or a combination of beef, veal [humanely raised of course] and pork)
1 5 1/2 oz (156ml) can tomato paste
1 15-19 oz can tomato sauce, puréed tomatoes or diced tomatoes and juice
At least 2 Tbsp of a combination of Oregano, Basil, Marjoram, Thyme, Sage, Rosemary (Heavy on the Oregano and Basil)
1 tsp salt
fresh ground pepper to taste
1-2 tsp ground cinnamon (do not leave out!)
1 box lasagna noodles (preferably whole wheat)
2 bunches fresh spinach, ripped in pieces (about 6 cups loosely packed)
750g cottage cheese (1%)
1 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
3-4 cups mozzarella cheese, grated
1. In large sauté pan, heat oil, mushrooms, garlic and onions. Sauté until softened and onions are translucent.
2. Add in ground beef and continue to cook until all beef is browned.
3. Add in tomato paste, tomato sauce (or diced), herbs, cinnamon and salt and pepper. Continue to cook for a few minutes and adjust seasonings as needed.
4. Set pan aside.
5. In large stock pot, boil sufficient water for noodles and allow for 1tbsp salt per quart of water. Cook noodles until just al dente. Drain and run under cool water immediately.
6. Crack one of the eggs into a small bowl, and mix. Once noodles are cool, mix the egg into the noodles and allow to sit for a minute while you finish prepping.
7. In yet another pan or pot, cook the spinach with a small amount of butter until it is thoroughly cooked down. Set aside to cool for a minute.
8. In another small bowl, pour cottage cheese. Mix in 1/2 cup Parmesan, remaining 1 egg and some generous portions of salt and pepper, add spinach. Mix well. Set that aside.
9. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a greased 9 x 13 glass baking dish, pour in 1/2 of the meat mixture. Pat it down and spread it out until even and flat. Lay lasagne noodles across the meat mixture, overlapping each noodle by half until all the meat is covered.
10. Pour cottage cheese/spinach mix over the noodles and spread evenly. Layer another round of noodles exactly the same as before on top of that.
11. Pour remaining meat mixture on top of the last layer of noodles and top with all remaining Parmesan and mozzarella mixture.
12. Place baking dish on top of a baking sheet (to catch drips) and place in preheated oven for 45 minutes. When done, allow to cool for 10 minutes or so before serving.
And that’s the best lasagna you will ever make. I guarantee it!
On a completely different note, I would like to let you in on my birthday dinner as well.
We made it down to the harbour front of Victoria in time to see the sun begin to set, which made for some fantastic lighting. We ordered our tuna tacones (a grilled tortilla hand roll), oyster tacones and a fabulous order of my favourite fries, kennebec with malt vinegar.
These dishes are a specialty of Red Fish, Blue Fish, a great little restaurant in the heart of Victoria. It is housed inside an old shipping container located on the waterfront and only serves sustainable seafood as well as serving it with sustainable, recyclable utensils and dishes. To quote the restaurant themselves “we serve Sustainable 100% Ocean Wise seafood
and an Earth friendly Reuse and Recycle system.”
I LOVE this place. I will order these tuna tacones until I couldn’t possibly eat another, they are that good. Grill seared Albacore tuna, spicy spot prawn mayo, pea shoots, and lemon pickled onions all wrapped up in a soft taco shell and served with a delightful side of delicious coleslaw. At two for $10, they cannot be beat. If you live in Victoia or are planning a visit, make your way down to Red Fish, Blue Fish, it’s a must see!
After that, we made our way uptown for a ridiculously expensive ice cream at Marble Slab Creamery. I will spare you the details, but at 2 adult cones and a small cup for our son, the total was $18. CRAZY! It wasn’t even organic. I would have much preferred a treat at a local ice creamery, but March is too early for most to be open. Oh well, it was still good.
And that is my birthday celebrations so far. Tonight we are having yet another get together at home and then tomorrow, more dinner out! See you soon!