Lasagna, Bruschetta, and Basil Oil

A little over a year ago our friends Karthik and Lavanya came to visit us in Ann Arbor with high expectations for us to fill their stomachs with some of the delicious food they kept seeing on Married to a Desi. After much thought, Shankar suggested making a rich lasagna, one thing led to another and a full Italian Meal was planned.

Lavanya decided if the food was made then the pictures must be taken, and a follow up to put on the blog. We went out and bought square black plates to highlight the food, then set up the cameras which delayed the start of the meal by a good 45 minutes. That delay is now looking a lot shorter than the year it has taken me to post the follow up - but as they say, better late than never.

Cooking and entertaining friends is a big part of building lasting relationships with our friends. Our love of cooking has helped us save money by eating out less at restaurants. Instead of meeting friends at restaurants and bars we have a dinners and snacks at our place for a fraction of the cost. Our date nights have even changed from eating out at fancy places to seeking out new ethnic neighborhoods, and bringing home exotic spices to cook up interesting dinners.

The crux of the Italian meal is a good sauce, which Shankar always makes at home, and which I am now addicted to. Once you start making your own sauce, you will never go back to the jar. All it takes is a quick saute of diced onion in olive oil. Then the addition of garlic, a can of crushed tomatoes, oregano, basil, thyme, a bay leaf, crushed red chili flakes, salt and pepper to taste. Bring all of this to a boil and then simmer it on low until the tomatoes taste cooked.

Looking back at these pictures, I miss all the flowers I used to buy in Ann Arbor. Flowers are a luxury that I have cut down on now that we live in downtown Chicago. As are most of the menus we plan at home, these recipes are very economical, and are a great cost effective way to entertain a large group of your friends. We made this for four, and enjoyed it for a few days after!



Basil Oil
1 cup of fresh basil leaves
1 cup Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Grind all of the ingredients together, and serve as a dipping sauce with bread.

Bruschetta
1 store bought baguette
1 cup of chopped fresh tomatoes
1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese
Basil oil (see above for recipe)
1 clove garlic
2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

Mix together the balsamic vinegar, basil oil, salt and pepper together. Add the tomatoes and toss. Rub the clove of garlic over slices of the baguette. Top with the tomato mixture and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.


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Lasagna
1 package of lasagna noodles
1 quart of tomato sauce (see recipe above).
4 cups of diced vegetables for example but not limited to green peppers, red peppers, yellow peppers, mushrooms, red onion, yellow squash, zucchini, eggplant
Mozzarella Cheese (either the balls, or shredded)
1 egg
1 tub ricotta cheese 250g
1 cup finely minced onion

1. Place the vegetables in a oven proof dish or pan, and drizzle olive oil over them. Salt and pepper the vegetables, and bake at 400 degrees F for approximately 30-40 minutes until the vegetables are nicely cooked and could be slightly blackened at the edges. This will give it an added taste that you will like, I promise.

2. Whisk the egg, and then add in the ricotta cheese, with the onion, salt, pepper.

3. Next, spray a large baking pan with some kind of vegetable oil based cooking spray to prevent the lasagna from sticking. Create the layers in the following suggested order:
  • Sauce
  • Noodles
  • Ricotta cheese mixture
  • Roasted Vegetables
  • Sauce
  • Noodles
  • Sauce
  • Mozzarella Cheese
If you have fresh basil left over, you can tear pieces of it and nestle it in between layers for additional flavor. Bake covered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes covered with aluminum. Then remove the aluminum and cook for 10 minutes or until the cheese on top browns.

Serve this with a salad of fresh mesclun greens lightly dressed with the same dressing as used for the bruschetta.






Weekend Breakfast Blogging Event: OMELETTE

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The month of October brings me the pleasure of hosting Weekend Breakfast Blogging. This event has been created by the lovely Dr.Nandita Iyer of Saffrron Trail. Weekend Breakfast Blogging #16 will feature Omelette's. I figured since all you bloggers will be CLICKing away at Eggs this month, there will certainly be some left for making omelette's.

My entry for this event will be Bread Omelette! I will be posting the recipe this week.

RULES:

1. Make an omelette this month. The recipe can be any variation of an omelette.
2. Take a picture of it.
3. Blog about it, and post the recipe and picture.
4. Make sure you add links to this post, and to Nandita's site.
5. Send it to me (kanchana AT marriedtoadesi DOT com) by November 1, 2007.

I encourage you all to be really creative, see the article below from Wikipedia for more ideas on omelettes.

"An omelette or omlet is a preparation of beaten egg cooked with butter or oil in a frying pan, usually folded around a filling such as cheese, vegetables, meat, or some combination of the above. Gourmet cook Julia Child famously described an omelette as soft-cooked scrambled eggs wrapped in an envelope of firmly-cooked scrambled eggs. Many variations exist.

  • The French Omelette is smoothly and briskly cooked in a very, very hot pan specially made for the purpose. The technique relies on clarified butter (to ensure a high smoke point) in relatively great ratio to the eggs (prevents sticking and cooks the eggs more quickly). Good with just salt and pepper, this omelette is often flavored with tomatoes and mint, finely chopped herbs (often tarragon, chervil, rosemary and thyme) or chopped onions.
  • A Western omelette, also known as a Denver omelette, is an omelette sometimes filled with diced ham, onions, and green bell peppers, though there are many variations on fillings. Often served in the midwestern United States and sometimes has a topping of cheese and a sidedish of hashbrowns or fried potatoes.
  • An egg white omelette is a variation which does not include the yolks to remove fat and cholesterol, which reside exclusively in the yolk-portion of an egg.
  • In the United States, a Spanish omelette is an omelette served with an often spicy sauce of tomatoes, onions, and bell peppers.
  • Frittata is a kind of open-faced Italian omelette that can contain cheese, vegetables, or even leftover pasta. Frittate are cooked slowly. Except for the cooking fat, all ingredients are fully mixed with the eggs before cooking starts.
  • In Japan, omelette (pronounced omuretsu) can mean a western omelette but also omuraisu (from the English words "omelette" and "rice"). It is a fried ketchup-flavored rice sandwiched with a thinly spread beaten egg or covered with a plain egg omelette. Omu-soba is an omelette with yakisoba as its filling. This is also known in Tokyo as the "Gunshot Omelette." Okonomiyaki is a Japanese pancake which is often compared to an omelette.
  • In India an omelette is usually made with the addition of spices which vary by region. Most commonly used are finely chopped green chillies, chopped onions, coriander leaf and powder and a pinch of turmeric all of which are added to the egg before it is whisked."