Grandma’s Italiano Lasagna with Béchamel Sauce

January 26, 2016
Celiac Disease
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This was a video demonstration I did for a Cook Book contest.  And I decided to publish it here on my blog!

Prep time: 60 minutes or less (not a quick prep but well worth it)
Serves 6 people
Cook time:  60 minutes  @ 350 degrees.  Then an additional 15 minutes to brown the top

Note:  To save time on prep, I often don’t boil the noodles first.  Instead I just layer them right out of the box, and when you’re layering is finished , just add 1 cup of water around the corners of the pan distributed evenly .  And while cooking the lasagna,  the noodles will have enough liquid to cook them as if you boiled them.  Also if you use left over grilled or baked chicken from the day before, that is also a time saver!  Complicated recipe, but as I said, well worth the time.  Your Gluten free family or crowd will love it, and it goes a long way!

Ingredients:
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup gluten-free flour mix*
4 cups of whole milk (or almond milk)at room temperature
Rice or almond milk can be substituted if lactose intolerant. (I use Almond milk; it has a good flavor and texture.)
Pinch of packaged or grated, fresh nutmeg (fresh best captures the full essence and flavor)
1½ cups tomato sauce (see recipe below)
1 small can of tomato paste
Salt and white pepper
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 pound ground turkey(optional – my grandmother would sometimes add cooked dark
chicken meat, cooked spare ribs, or cooked sausage to the ground turkey.  But the meat mixture I recommend!  It is great)
1½ pounds ricotta cheese or cottage cheese (if you can’t find a gluten free ricotta)
3 large eggs (raw or boiled for extra flavor and texture)
1 pound gluten-free lasagna sheets, cooked al dente/ or to save time you don’t have to boil them first.  See above instructions!
2 packages (10 ounces each) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Prepare the Béchamel Sauce (Besciamella Salsa, in Italian):
In a 2-quart pot, melt butter over medium heat. When completely melted, add flour. Stir until smooth using a wisk (about 2 minutes). Gradually add milk, whisking constantly to prevent lumps from forming. Simmer and whisk over medium heat until the sauce is thick, smooth, and creamy (about 10 minutes). The sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of wooden spoon. Remove from heat and add a 1/4 teasp00n of  nutmeg, ( tomato sauce 1 can 14 oz.  (optional). Traditionally the sauce is a white sauce, but sometimes I add a little tomato sauce just to spice it up a little.  Anyway  Stir until well combined.   Add salt and pepper if needed.  Set aside; cool completely.

Meanwhile, In a sauté pan, heat olive oil. When hot enough to be almost smoking, add the ground turkey and then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Brown the meat, breaking up any large lumps and until no longer pink. Remove from heat and drain excess fat. Set aside; cool completely.

3. In a medium sized bowl, thoroughly mix ricotta cheese and eggs. Lightly salt and pepper and set aside. If desired, mix some shredded mozzarella in the ricotta and egg mixture for cheesier flavor and zest.
4. In bottom of 13” x 9” baking dish arrange each of the following layers in this order:
• Spread 1/3 of Béchamel sauce on bottom of pan
• Lay pasta sheets side by side, covering sauce
• Evenly spread all of the ricotta mixture on pasta
• Spread all of the spinach on ricotta
• Add another layer of pasta sheets on the spinach
• Spread all the ground beef on top of pasta sheets
• Spread ½ of the mozzarella on top of ground beef
• Spread 1/3 of the Béchamel sauce over the mozzarella
• Add last layer of pasta sheets
• Add remaining Béchamel

Note:  At this point you can spread a layer of pasta sauce or omit if you just want it white sauce only!
• Add remaining mozzarella
• Top with remaining parmesan cheese
5. Cut the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter into ¼-inch cubes and spread across top of the lasagna. Cover with foil. Then, line a large cookie sheet with aluminum foil and place lasagna dish on that. Place on the middle rack in oven and bake until top is bubbling, about 60 minutes covered, then an additional 15 – 30 minutes uncovered to make the top cheese cripsy. Remove from oven and let it set for about 15 minutes before serving!

Also Note:  If you have trouble finding Gluten Free Ricotta, I substitute with same amounts of Gluten free cottage cheese!  Spice it up with a little oregano, egg,  garlic powder, and pepper and you won’t know the difference!

Simple Tomato Sauce Recipe:

Ingredients:
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 – 32 ounce cans crushed tomatoes
1 dried bay leaf
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, optional

Directions:
1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until soft and translucent, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add celery and carrots and season with salt and pepper. Sauté until all the vegetables are soft, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add tomatoes and bay leaves and simmer uncovered on low heat for one hour or until thick.
2. Remove bay leaves and add salt and pepper if needed. If sauce still tastes acidic, add unsalted butter (1 tablespoon at a time to round out the flavors).
3. Add ½ the tomato sauce into the bowl of a food processor. Process the tomato sauce until smooth. Continue adding remaining sauce.

Note: If not using all the sauce, allow it to cool completely and freeze for up to 6 months.

*Tom Sawyer flour mixes are a close substitute to white flour that mix as well as white or wheat flour. You can purchase these products locally. For more information go to: http://www.glutenfreeflour.com/ or contact them at: Sawyer & Associates, LLC, 2155 West Highway 89A, Suite 106, Sedona, Arizona 86336 (877-372-8800).

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