What’s in the freezer? Lasagna with homemade ricotta cheese
I just finished baking a whole bunch of chocolate cakes for the freezer and as I sit here now
sweating glistening, I realize that I should be reccomending foods that don’t need to go into the oven in this heat. So I went back in the kitchen and made some ricotta cheese for lasagna.
Believe it or not, you too can easily make ricotta cheese at home! I will take you through the process so there is nothing to fear.
Ingredients (can be multiplied/divided to the quantity needed)
5 liters of 3% milk (1% has a lot less flavor)
1/2-1 tablespoon salt
1- 1 1/2 cups white vinegar
- Put all of the milk in a large pot. Warm it up until it is hot but not boiling. (If it does boil by mistake, no worries, you will just have an unpleasant job cleaning the pot) Stir occasionally to allow all parts to heat evenly.
- When the milk is hot, slowly add 1 cup of vinegar and the salt. With a spoon, SLOWLY mix the milk until you start to see the curds and whey separate.
- If your kitchen is hot, shut off the burner, cover the pot and let it sit for approximately 10 minutes untl all the curds and whey separate. If your kitchen is cold, keep the burner on.
- Check after 10 minutes and slowly mix- if it is not all separated, turn on the flame and add another half cup of vinegar, mix, and repeat step 3. You can tell it is separated when the liquid is clear and not white.
- When completely separate, SLOWLY pour the cheese into a colander. If you pour it too fast you will break the curds. Sometimes it is easier to pour out the water and then place the ricotta in the colander.
- If you like your cheese soft (as I do), you can use it as soon as the water is completely drained. If you like it dry, cover it loosely and put it in the refrigerator overnight. Can be frozen.
- Technically the colander’s holes are too big for ricotta so you do lose some cheese. You can line the colander with cheesecloth to decrease the diameter of the holes.
- If the curds do not come together in a large clump, you can still drain it- it will just take longer to come together- possibly overnight.
To make the lasagna you need:
- 12 noodles per lasagna
- 1/2- 1 batch of ricotta, depending on how cheesy you like it
- shredded cheese for the top- I use a mix of Parmesan cheese and the Tara Gevina Tzehuba
- pasta sauce
I admit I use jarred sauce. I have tried many many times to replicate my sauce from the old country but it never tastes right. If one of my readers has a TNT recipe, please post it! I usually use Barilla (you need two jars) but I just found something as good if not better and cheaper- DiNicola
You can see the ingredients are almost completely clean- the only food additive is citric acid, which is quite harmless.
- Boil the noodles until al dente. Drain and separate each noodle. [Don’t make the mistake of boiling no-boil noodles as I did today- Shufersal brand noodles are no-boil]
- Place some sauce at the bottom of a 9×13 pan. Add three noodles.
- Mix the ricotta cheese with two eggs, salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste. Can add drained defrosted spinach to cheese as well. Spread 1/2 of the mixture over the noodles.
- Add three more noodles and then a layer of sauce (can also add vegetables or Tivall ground soy if you like)
- Add three more noodles and then the rest of the cheese mixture.
- Add the last three noodles, more sauce and optional veggies/soy.
- Spread cheese over top.
- Place sheet of baking paper over cheese and then cover with foil (so the cheese won’t stick to the foil).
- Defrost 24 hours before cooking. Bake at 180C for 30-40 minutes until bubbling or 200C if you like crispy cheese on top.