Lesson #1: Heed smudged recipe cards with extreme caution! Water droplets seem to enjoy erasing key elements, such as the first digit in the number of lasagna noodles needed to feed four people.
Lesson #2: If at first you don’t succeed…unravel those dang noodles and start again!
Lesson #3: Lasagna may not be the best thing to eat when you’re feeling down. Try something light, like a lemon soufflé instead.
As you can see, last night was quite eventful. First, I misread the recipe, thinking it called for 2 lasagna noodles. Yes I know now that lasagna noodles aren’t that big, but at the time I was a young, naïve little noodle novice. I assumed they would grow larger while boiling. This is where lesson #1 comes in to play. Unbeknownst to me, a rogue water drop decided to land right where an important number happened to be written. Any guesses as to the magic numeral? No? Well, it was a 1 meaning my recipe required not 2 but 12 lasagna noodles! Luckily, my water hadn’t reached a boil yet.
Once the appropriate number of noodles reached al dente status, I moved on to the filling. Things were going well…until I ran out of my ricotta/spinach mixture after 6 noodles. This is the moment where I said a few bad words after realizing another smudge had erased another important bit of information: I needed 1 and 1/3 cups ricotta cheese, not just 1/3 cup. What does water have against the number one? And furthermore, what does water have against me?!
I, however, was not in the mood to be defeated by a recipe from Sunset Magazine circa 1980something. This girl does not take a near failed attempt lying down! (Cue Lesson #2) So what did I do? Well, I unraveled all my prepared lasagna swirls, scraped the filling back into the bowl, added the additional cup of ricotta and filled the (not nice words) back up.
I should probably add that prior to discovering my lack of ricotta cheese; I received a call from my local community theatre saying there was no part for me in the production I had auditioned for. I’ll admit it, I was disappointed. (Enter stage left, Lesson #3)
But rally forth I did and into the oven the lasagna swirls went, covered in mom’s homemade tomato sauce, which quite accurately matched the color of my mood.
Honestly, I was more upset with how I was reacting than anything else. I’ve been not cast several times before and lived to tell the tale! And I know how difficult it can be breaking into a small, community theatre. Maybe it was the water drop fiasco but for some reason I was wound as tight as my lasagna was swirled.
Thank the Lord I didn’t forget to set the oven timer.
In the end, the lasagna swirls were lovely and today I am feeling fine. I’d like to say it’s because I’m a well-rounded young lady, but in all honesty it’s probably because someone brought a dozen doughnuts into the break room this afternoon.
Lesson #4: In the event of not so happy news…eat a maple bar.
This is a great alternative to your average lasagna and involves much less work. Plus it’s swirly! Homemade tomato sauce is best, but a big jar of Classico will do you just fine. Maybe if you’re lucky, I’ll toss my mom’s sauce recipe up here someday…
You will need:
12 uncooked lasagna noodles
1 package frozen, chopped spinach, thawed, with extra moisture squeezed out
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/3 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 tsp. each of salt and pepper
3 cups tomato sauce
Preheat oven to 350.
Cook noodles according to package. Rinse and lay on foil sheets to prevent sticking.
Mix together spinach, 3/4 cup Parmesan, ricotta, salt and pepper.
Spread about 1/3 cup cheese mixture along entire length of each noodle. Roll noodles up individually and stand on end in a greased 7-8 inch round casserole dish (make sure it’s at least 2 1/2 inches deep).
Top with tomato sauce and toss in the oven for 30 minutes or until hot. (Jab a fork in the center of a swirl to test the temp. If it’s still cool, add a few more minutes).
Yield ~ 12 swirls