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.

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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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.


Finla said...

Wow that is long long ago you have posted. Love all the pics :-)

Lavanya said...

Finally!!!!!!!!!! It looks great! Remember we went shopping for those flowers? Brought back memories:)

Savithri said...

The food looks delicious!! Miss you guys! Glad to see you blogging again:)

amna said...

Look who's back!!! Wheee :D

Priya said...

oooh, welcome back! It's soo good to see you back Kanchana :) And yes, home made sauce rules. Never used bay leaf though. With sweet, fresh tomatoes almost flooding the stores, its a perfect time to try this I guess. so better now than later :D

Aarti said...

Wow, the meal looks simply sinful and yummmy!!! :)

Lovely pics ofcourse :)
Glad i stumbled upon ur blog.. mind if i blogroll u?

TBC said...

Some sign of life on this blog... finally! :D

Aparna Balasubramanian said...

Looks gorgeous. Nothing quite like food that's cooked at home.

Priya said...

Sooooo glad u are back!!! Love your recipes, your pictures and your posts. Have tried so many of ur recipes while you've been away - they've turned out awesome. Thanks!

nandita said...

I'm dying to straight dig into the lovely Italian baking dish - the colours are gorgeous - I've got some packs of Lasagna verde and regular ones, and this recipe is ideal for us.
I;m so glad you are back to blogging, I'm planning to get back soon too.