One of my favorite things about the Sopranos was how they didn’t mess around when it came to food. Feisty Carmella always served up hearty pasta dishes for the family, even when she and Tony were on limited speaking terms. But I digress.
Tonight I was looking for something similarly no nonsense. So I pulled meatballs out of the fridge, and found marinara sauce and lasagna noodles in the cupboard. Bada boom! Basic ingredients for an easy Italian dinner.
The only curve ball was that I had 6 lasagna noodles. Hardly enough for a typical layered lasagna. So here’s what I did:
-Butter the pan; add three lasagna noodles.
-Pour a layer of marinara sauce, followed by pre-cooked meatballs and spinach leaves. Cover with sauce and a layer of shredded cheese.
-Ideally, here’s where you repeat another layer or two.
-Top with final layer of noodles, sauce and shredded cheese.
-Bake covered at 375 for 45 minutes, or until noodles are tender. Finish by baking uncovered until cheese is adequately melted.
David ate a Tony-size portion, so I’d say it was a success.
Mario Batali’s Basic Tomato Sauce with diced zucchini instead of carrots. Yum!
I can’t read about food without developing a nagging craving for it. Tonight’s spaghetti dinner was the culmination of countless descriptions of guiltless carb-loading in Italy from the pages of Eat, Pray, Love. (And by pages, I mean iPad – which I love reading on so far!)
It was also really important to me to find a tomato sauce recipe that required simmering on the stove. The anticipation of bubbling sounds and aromas coming from the kitchen are part of the experience (and leave me a little time to work out before dinner). I found Mario Batali’s “Basic Tomato Sauce” from the Epicurious iPad app, which I cut in half (and left out the carrot because I didn’t have one).
I also learned from my recent pasta class at Williams-Sonoma that Italians add salt to the water until it tastes “like the sea.” I’ll admit it, I was a little gun shy about adding multiple tablespoons. (The package called for 4 tablespoons but I couldn’t get past 2, which was plenty.) I plated the pasta with a little olive oil and about a half cup of sauce, and the salt brought a nice flavor to it. Buono appetito!
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