Hello all! I know I’ve been MIA the past little while. I promise you I have my reasons, I’m not simply slacking. But I don’t need to provide you any excuses, I’m here to say Happy 2 Years to Gorging George! Yes, it’s been another year of cooking, eating and writing about food – and what a year it’s been! The site has since gone Gluten Free, I’ve whipped up a Thanksgiving Feast with a local chef, and was even a featured blogger on Food Bloggers of Canada! And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Thank you to everyone who’s been following for the whole 2 years, and to those of you who have just stopped by today – you all give me a reason to continue snapping pictures of food and pounding away at the computer afterwards – you guys rock!
To celebrate, why not go all out? I’ve got an over-the-top, extra rich lasagna for everyone. I know, it’s nearly bikini-season – you don’t want to stuff 5000 calories* into your mouth in one sitting. But there’s something about the tepid temperatures this time of year that drive me into a panic. I start to crave all the heavy, baked dishes of winter, already grieving their disappearance for nearly half the year before we have even turned our ovens off in place of barbecues. And I’m not saying that I don’t look forward to grilled burgers, fresh summer salads, and sausages cooked over a campfire – I mourn these equally come the Fall.
It’s this time of the year that I dive into braised meats, roasted chickens, casseroles, and of course baked pasta. And when I make these, I typically don’t hold back. What’s the point of eating “low-fat” “no-fat” “no-fun” comfort food? If I’m worried about my hips, I’ll nosh on some vegetable soup and salad thank you very much. When I want baked pasta I want a pound of cheese, lots of cream, and definitely some full fat love in my dish. I’ll take an extra walk around the block with Kona to feel better about myself later (and hopefully ward off a heart attack).
Oh – and while this is completely off topic – a big welcome to the world to Baby C! Our friends just had their first baby last Friday, and we’re so excited for the new family!
Gluten Free Ultimate Lasagna
This lasagna does not have to be gluten free if you’re not living that way. Go ahead and substitute regular lasagna noodles and all-purpose flour in the béchamel. I didn’t share a recipe for bolognese because most people have their own favourite version of this meaty sauce; plus Kyle says it’s still not time to share my version yet!
For the Gluten Free Béchamel
1/4 cup cold butter
1 Tbsp sweet rice flour
1 cup milk
salt & pepper
For the Rest of the Lasagna
6 cups of your favourite gluten free bolognese
1 package gluten free lasagna noodles (about 12 noodles)
150g diced pancetta
1 clove garlic, minced
4-5 handfuls of fresh spinach
350g mozzarella, shredded
1 cup parmesan, grated
6-7 slices provolone
To Make the Béchamel: melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, whisk in the sweet rice flour. Continue to whisk for about 1 minute or until the flour becomes a slight golden colour. Whisk in the milk. Bring the mixture to a simmer and continue to stir until thickened. The sauce is done once it is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Season to taste with salt and pepper (about 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper). Set aside.
Meanwhile, cook/heat up your bolognese and cook the lasagna noodles according to directions – rinse the noodles with cold water and set aside. Pan-fry the pancetta in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Once it is crispy, remove from the pan and drain on paper towels – leave the fat from the pancetta in the pan. Add the garlic to the pan, give it a quick stir, then immediately add the spinach. Quickly saute until the spinach wilts – this will likely only take a minute or two. Season the spinach with salt, then stir into the béchamel sauce.
Preheat your oven to 350ºF if you plan on cooking the lasagna right away. Once all your components are ready (noodles, béchamel with spinach, bolognese, pancetta, & cheeses) – you can start putting your lasagna together. Spread 1 1/2 cups of bolognese on the bottom of a 9 x 13″ baking dish. Cover with 3 lasagna noodles. Spread the cooked pancetta over the lasagna noodles, then top this with 3 cups of bolognese. Sprinkle about 1/2 cup of mozzarella over the bolognese. Cover with 3-4 lasagna noodles (however many you need to cover the bolognese). Spread out the béchamel with spinach over this layer of lasagna noodles, and sprinkle another 1/2 cup of mozzarella over the béchamel. Cover with another 4-5 lasagna noodles (again, however many you need to cover the layer below). Top this with the remaining 1 1/2 cups of bolognese. Place the provolone slices over the bolognese, then cover the lasagna with the remaining mozzarella and grated parmesan.
Bake for 30-45 minutes or until it is bubbling and heated through. If the top isn’t browned enough, you can broil for a few minutes (watch the oven though, you don’t want it to burn!).
You can also prepare this ahead before baking and refrigerate for up to two days – cover with aluminum foil after assembling. Pull the lasagna out of the fridge an hour before you plan to bake it. Then bake according to directions above – you may have to add an extra 15 minutes to ensure it is heated through.
*note: calorie count is not an accurate measure of a serving of this lasagna – I’m no dietician.