Tag Archives: ricotta cheese

Deep Dish Lasagna

I love lasagna but I have found that making it in a traditional rectangular lasagna pan limits the amount of layers and fillings I can add. So I decided to try something different this time around and made my lasagna in a dutch oven. For those who do not have a dutch oven you could also use the ceramic pot of your crock pot as the vessel for this classic dish.

I started off by making my fillings for the lasagna. First I sauteed some onions and mushrooms and set those aside.

Another filler I typically add is sausage. For this dish I used hot Italian Sausage.

I just cook it up and try to break it down into small bite size pieces. Once it’s cooked through I drain it and set it aside as well.

The next filler is one of the most important- the ricotta cheese. To the ricotta I add an egg, freshly minced garlic, and my dried spices- typically salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and crushed red pepper.

Once all the fillers are set it’s time to assemble everything. I cooked the pasta as the directions on the box specified (I used Dreamfields low carb pasta) and gathered tomato sauce and shredded mozzarella as well.

Then it’s really up to you how you want to layer everything. I always start of with a layer of sauce and then noodles.

Here you get a sense of the depth of this pot.

I trimmed my pasta so it would fit in here. Obviously with the round dish it’s a bit more challenging, but it worked out just fine.

I sort of freestyle the rest of the layers- ricotta, sauce, pasta. Sausage, sauce, pasta. Mushrooms and onions, sauce, pasta… you get the idea. Go until you reach the top or you run out of ingredients! I topped it all with some shredded mozzarella.

The next step is to bake it. What I also loved about using the dutch oven was that I could cover it using the lid. In the past when I used the lasagna pan I would cover it with tin foil and since I would fill the pan to the top the cheese would always melt and stick to the tin foil. When I would take the foil off, half of the cheese would come off too. By using the lid here I was able to avoid that mess.

I baked it for about 35-40 minutes at 375 degrees and took the lid off for the last 5 minutes of cooking. Once the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is melted it’s done. Its tough to do this, but if you can let it rest for a good 15 minutes before you cut it. Easier said than done though! 

It came out great. You can see all the layers below.

It takes a while to prep this dish but as you can probably guess you will have leftovers for days. Leftover Italian dishes always taste better than the first night too! I hope you like this one.

– Eileen

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Tomato Panzanella Salad

Greg and I were invited to a family BBQ and knew we wanted to bring something good for a side dish. We remembered a great dish that Ash brought over one time, tomato panzanella salad, and decided it would be the perfect thing to make. You can find the recipe here on Ash’s site (I didn’t alter it much as you will see).

We bought the tomatoes at a local farmer’s market. Obviously for this dish the quality of the tomatoes can make or break it. I was so happy to get these tomatoes. As imperfect as they look, they tasted great!

I cut the tomatoes and added some thinly sliced red onion. I actually completed this step the night before the BBQ, as I knew I would be facing some time restrictions the following day.

Similar to the importance of using good tomatoes for this dish, the quality of the bread is also something to be mindful of. We picked up a french baguette from our favorite place on Earth, Pittsburgh’s strip district (wahoo!), the day before the BBQ. On the day of the BBQ I cut the bread into bite-sized cubes (slightly larger than croutons) and baked them for 20 minutes. 20 minutes was about 2-3 minutes too long and some of the pieces were a little too baked for my liking. I recommend keeping an eye on them after the 15 minute mark.

Sorry for the blurry pic! You can get a sense of the size though.

While the bread was baking I assembled the rest of the dish by adding fresh basil, olive oil, red wine vinegar, and salt and pepper to the tomatoes and red onion.

I just love all the colors in this dish!

Once the bread is done baking it gets added to the salad. You want it to absorb moisture from the dressing and tomatoes while still maintaining some of it’s crunch.

The final step in making this salad is to top it with ricotta cheese and a little olive oil. Since we were transporting this dish to another house I felt it would be best to keep the ricotta and olive oil in a separate container prior to serving. Before dinner was served the ricotta was placed on top of the salad.

Overall, this was a true crowd pleaser! I received several compliments on the dish and answered some questions about it too. People seemed to really enjoy it and want to recreate it themselves.

Take advantage of the Summer tomatoes while they last! Hope you like this one.

-Eileen 8)