This is a story of new beginnings, unexpected surprises in life, and the power of love.
As I write this blog post, I am sitting in our newly purchased apartment – a West Village loft that is cozy, majestic and perfect in every way (at least in our eyes). I stretched out many a brain cell trying to determine which dish I should make for the new kitchen’s maiden voyage, and it finally hit me – I am making the dish that started it all.
What is “IT” you ask? Is IT the love Brian and I have found in each other? Is IT the exhilaration and fulfillment I have discovered in this blog? Is IT what started my Experimental Culinary Pursuits? IT is all of the above. You see, on the Valentine’s Day of 2008 I decided to surprise Brian with a homemade lasagna. It was our first Vday together as a couple and I told him that I was going to introduce him to the yummiest food he’s ever had in his life. I guess he agreed, because he said “Wow, this is so good that we should just cook EVERY weekend!” Except for by “we”, he really meant “me”. And so the experiments began. We discovered that shopping the aisles of Food Emporium and Trader Joe was as thrilling as shopping in Bloomingdales & Sephora, that kitchen gadgets could be just as addictively collectible as cosmetics and Wii games, and that Irma Rombauer wasn’t kidding about the Joy of Cooking. All this, culminating into one fateful day in August of 2009, when Experimental Culinary Pursuits (the blog) came to life, bringing me joy and satisfaction I never knew I could feel, introducing me to an amazing community of foodie friends, and challenging me to be a better cook every single day.
So here it is, no bells & whistles; just one simple delicious dish that changed my life.
- 1 box of Lasagna Sheets
- 1 pkg of Baby Spinach (or 10oz frozen spinach)
- 1/2 cup-1 cup of Ricotta Cheese
- 8oz Mozzarella or Italian Cheese blend
- 1 handful of Parmesan Cheese
- Marinara Sauce (1 chopped tomato, 1tbsp tomato paste, 1 can of diced tomatoes, 1-2 tbsp chopped fresh basil, 1 cup red wine, 3-5 tbsp red pepper flakes, 1/2 stick of finely chopped carrots, garlic, onion, dash of tarragon, squeeze of lemon, pinch of salt & pepper, pinch of sugar – all simmered and pureed to smooth or chunky perfection, depending on your taste)
- 1/2 Eggplant, sliced 1/8 inch
- 1-2 Zucchinis, sliced 1/8 inch
- 1 Squash (I used Delicata this time), sliced 1/8 inch
- 1/2 – 1 Bell Pepper cut into french fry sized pieces
- Dried Basil Flakes
- Oil for cooking
- Salt & pepper to taste
Love (and the oven) Makes the Lasagna Go Steamy & Tasty
- Saute all the following veggies (Eggplant, Zucchini, Squash, Bell Pepper) in oil, salt & pepper and some Dried Basil Flakes until cooked. Set aside.
- In separate pan, saute Spinach in oil & salt & pepper until wilted and mix with the Ricotta Cheese. Set aside.
- Make the Marinara Sauce while you’re at it (see above).
- Layer the Lasagna – Sauce, Lasagna Pasta Sheets, Ricotta/Spinach Mix, Lasagna Sheets, Sauce, Veggies, Mozzarella Cheese, Lasagna Sheets, Sauce, Cheese, and finish off with a sprinkling Parmesan Cheese)
- Stick it in the Oven and bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes, until cheese is bubbly.
And a Bonus Picture: