There’s a fabulous little Italian place around the corner from our friends’ house, Patrenella’s Italian Restaurant. A nice wine selection and without a doubt, the very best lasagna in Houston. Seriously. It’s 7 layers of pasta, beef, and cheesy perfection. (I’ve also never eaten a better Tiramisu anywhere else.)
Patrenella’s isn’t on our regular dinner-out rotation but it’s most definitely one of our favorite places when we have some time to hang out and enjoy the atmosphere and a bottle of wine. Or two. We both order the lasagna – if the waitstaff didn’t know just how good this stuff was, we would look sooo boring 🙂
On lasagna night at home, I make a big ol’ mess. I bake a full batch in a 9×13 pan even though it would probably serve 8-10 people. I refrigerate the foil-covered leftovers in the pan overnight so it firms up. I then cut the cold lasagna into single portions, wrap each square in two layers of plastic wrap, and freeze on a baking sheet for about an hour or so. Once frozen solid, I’ll put the frozen squares in a large freezer bag. I put two squares in the fridge the night before the next lasagna night – reheating in a small baking dish is super easy and clean up is a breeze. And the best part is that I only have to do “lasagna dishes” once.
Our lasagna, from the bottom up:
1 cup Marinara, spread to cover bottom of pan
Pasta (my pan is 3 lasagna noodles wide)
Ricotta-egg mixture (24 oz of part-skim ricotta, whisked with 2 eggs, 1/2 tsp salt, and plenty of fresh ground black pepper)
1 lb of ground beef browned with 2 cloves of minced garlic, a large pinch of red pepper flake, and a pinch of salt; drained
2 cups White sauce (recipe below)
Chef’s choice: Sometimes I use another layer of browned ground beef or Italian sausage (1lb) mixed with marinara for an extra meaty lasagna; other times I’ll throw in veggies or just use marinara and cubed fresh mozzarella
1-2 cups Marinara, spread
1-2 cups Marinara, spread
1 1/2 cups grated or cubed fresh mozzarella
Bake it for 30 minutes at 375 and enjoy. And enjoy, and enjoy.
The white sauce recipe below is based on the Bechamel Sauce recipe found in Everyday Italian. I add garlic and cheese… which I guess technically no longer makes it a bechamel. We think it’s better this way – the sauce is much more flavorful.
5 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
4 cups whole milk at room temperature
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
Melt butter over medium heat. When butter has completely melted, add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the flour and whisk until smooth, about 2 minutes. Whisk in salt and pepper. Gradually add the milk, whisking constantly. Simmer over medium heat, whisking frequently, until the sauce is thickened and creamy, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the cheese, until melted and combined. Set aside and allow to cool completely.
Yields: 4 cups (I freeze the remaining sauce. Thaw and reheat over medium heat, whisking until smooth)