The Layers of Six-Cheese Lasagna Like The Layers Of Life

The Layers of Six-Cheese Lasagna Like The Layers Of Life post image

Part of the pleasure for me of tucking into a lovely, hearty, saucy lasagna is the surprise of what I’ll find inside. The hot layers hold within them all sorts of delicious little morsels that entice me bite after bite—the al dente noodles, the savory, robust sauce, the little bits of vegetables and meats, the fresh herbs and the bubbly, melted cheeses—playfully keeping me guessing what my next delightful bite will contain. Each layer is there to be filled and built upon, to be a support for the next layer, until all of the layers are complete and are finally topped with a sprinkling of cheese that becomes the gorgeous, golden, gooey crust that covers and seals all that is contained within. It reminds me of the way that different periods, layers, of our lives are filled with various experiences, some challenging and some scrumptiously joyous, all meant to be learned from and built upon, until the sum total of those experiences culminate in some wisdom and understanding.

Six-Cheese Lasagna with Basil Cream Sauce

Six-Cheese Lasagna with Basil Cream Sauce

Childhood is a time of daily learning, for discovering how things fit together and what boundaries are. Without even knowing it, our interactions and observations during this time are the precious ingredients that are the warm filling for the first layer, the foundational layer, of the rest of our lives. Adulthood ushers in the addition of responsibility along with the assumption that by now, there’s a strong understanding of how things work, how far boundaries can be pushed, and of results and ramifications. Our growing understanding of relationships gets added to the pool of ingredients for our middle layer. In older age, a mellowing seemingly begins to happen, the kind that only comes with the many experiences of life and of actually living through all that life has provided. By then, a lot of truth has often been revealed, and through the actual testing of it, our understanding of how things work ideally becomes more complete. It’s discovered that all of the layers of life, with all of their component ingredients, have been there to serve and give structure to a total life.

Six-Cheese Lasagna with Basil Cream Sauce

The layers of lasagna are like the layers of life. Experiences are the surprise ingredients that support each next phase, until everything is topped off, finally, with a sprinkling of wisdom to seal it all. How much more gooey, delicious and enticing could it all be? If you ask me, I can’t think of a tastier way to view life.

Taste what’s good and pass it on.

Ingrid

Six-Cheese Lasagna with Basil Cream Sauce

Six-Cheese Lasagna with Pancetta, Spinach and Asparagus in a Summer Basil-Cream Sauce
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(Serves 6-8)

Ingredients:

• Summer Basil-Cream Sauce (recipe below)
12 lasagna noodles, cooked according to package instructions
4 cups, packed, baby spinach leaves
2½ cups ricotta cheese
1½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1¾ cup shredded Italian four-cheese blend
12 ounces asparagus, thin spears, cut into bite sized pieces and blanched
8 ounces pancetta, small dice, cooked until crisp (bacon can be substituted)
• Pinch salt
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil for garnish

Preparation:

-Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and line a baking sheet with foil to place the lasagna pan onto to avoid dripping.

-Using a 12 ½” x 9 ½” (roughly) baking dish, add about 1 cup of the Basil Cream sauce to the bottom of the dish as a coating, and then add 4 of the cooked lasagna noodles over top of the sauce; next, add 1 cup of the Basil Cream sauce to the noodles, and spread out with the back of a spoon or a spatula to coat evenly; next, add 2 cups of the baby spinach leaves in a nice, even layer, and then 1 ¼ cup of the ricotta cheese, in small, even dollops over top; next, evenly add ½ cup of the mozzarella cheese and ¼ cup of the four-cheese blend, and then about half of your blanched, bite-size asparagus pieces and about ¼ cup of the crisp pancetta; sprinkle on a pinch of the salt to give the vegetables a little extra flavor, being careful not to add too much; next, repeat the layering process by adding another 4 cooked lasagna noodles over this, and press down gently to compact it a little bit; add another 1 cup of the Basil Cream sauce and spread out evenly, and add the remaining 2 cups of the baby spinach leaves, evenly; add the remaining 1 ¼ cup ricotta cheese in small, even dollops, then another ½ cup of the mozzarella cheese and ¼ cup of the four-cheese blend, then the remainder of the asparagus pieces and another ¼ cup of the crisp pancetta (reserve about 1 tablespoon of pancetta for garnish), and again, a little pinch of salt over the vegetables; finally, add the 4 remaining cooked lasagna noodles over top, pressing down again to compact the lasagna, and add 1 cup of the Basil Cream sauce, smoothing over evenly again; add the remaining ½ cup mozzarella cheese and remaining 1 ¼ cup four-cheese blend evenly, and finish by sprinkling the teaspoon of Italian seasoning over the cheese; trim off any over-hanging pieces of lasagna noodles to create a clean edges

-Place the baking dish with the lasagna onto the foil-lined baking sheet and into the oven to bake, uncovered, for about 30 minutes, or until golden-brown on top and bubbly; remove from oven, allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.

To Serve:

-Cut equal servings of the lasagna and place onto plates; drizzle over top some of the remaining warm Basil Cream sauce, and sprinkle on a few bits of the remaining crisp pancetta and also some of the fresh, chopped basil leaves.

Summer Basil Cream Sauce ingredients:

8 cups low-fat milk
1 tablespoon all-natural, low-sodium chicken base
4 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
2 teaspoons salt
1teaspoon Italian seasoning
¼ teaspoon black pepper
4 ounces unsalted butter
4 ounces all-purpose flour (about ½ cup plus 3 tablespoons)
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup, packed, fresh basil leaves, finely chopped

Preparation:

-Add the milk to a medium-large pot and set over medium heat; add the chicken base, the garlic, the salt, the Italian seasoning and the black pepper to the milk and whisk to incorporate, and allow the milk to slowly come to the simmer, being careful not to let it boil over—stay close by; once it starts to simmer, turn off the heat.

-In another medium-large pot set over medium-low heat, add the butter and allow it to melt; once melted, add the flour and stir together to create a “roux” or thickener; cook this roux for about 1-2 minutes to cook out the “raw” flour taste, then slowly add the hot milk to this roux, whisking continuously all the time to prevent lumps from forming; once all milk has been added, whisk until you’re sure there are no lumps and the cream sauce is smooth; allow the cream sauce to very gently simmer, uncovered, for about 5-10 minutes to thicken a bit, whisking occasionally; after that time, turn the heat off from under the cream sauce, and whisk in the Parmesan, the lemon zest and juice and the chopped basil leaves; stir well to incorporate, and check/adjust the salt level, if needed; allow to cool slightly before using for the lasagna, or make a day ahead and keep in fridge until you’re ready to make the lasagna, at which time it can be reheated.





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{ 19 comments… add one }

  • Good Food Good Friends July 5, 2012, 2:19 pm

    This looks so good, I can’t wait to try it!

  • Jill July 7, 2012, 8:24 am

    This looks yummy! Thank you for sharing.

  • Emily July 9, 2012, 5:53 am

    This is gorgeous! Lovely photos, as always.

  • Marjani July 11, 2012, 8:40 am

    In going to make this on Friday for my family (^_^) I can’t wait

  • CJ at Food Stories July 14, 2012, 11:41 am

    WOW is all I can say. Love your great food pics and your food stories … I have subscribed to your blog feed & I’m nominating you for MY Food Stories Award for Excellence in Storytelling. I know some bloggers don’t participate in blog awards but I hope you’ll at least check it out because mine is unique in the fact that it is only is given to food sites and all the nominees are in the running for the monthly award and prize. If you’re interested, you can check out the details at my site … http://foodstoriesblog.com/food-stories-award/ … Either way, love your site and I hope you’re having a great foodie day!

  • Landscape Naperville July 18, 2012, 9:57 am

    This looks like heaven!

  • Sandy August 13, 2012, 6:59 am

    This looks wonderful! There are just two of us. Do you think it would freeze well.

    • The Cozy Apron August 13, 2012, 3:13 pm

      Hi Sandy, it most likely would freeze well; I would thaw it slowly in the fridge for a couple of days once you’re ready to enjoy it again.

    • Chenea September 19, 2012, 7:45 pm

      I’ll bet there won’t be much leftover!! :) And if there is, it will be eaten by the end of the week.

  • B September 6, 2012, 6:17 pm

    I made this last weekend. It was very good But the top layer of cheese burnt and was very crispy. I highly suggest putting it on the last 10 or so minutes.

  • Chenea September 19, 2012, 7:44 pm

    I made this lasagna a month or so ago and my boyfriend loved it! This lasagna is delicious! The only drawback is how time consuming it is. Now that I know though, I’ll start cooking a little earlier! :) No problem at all. It’s worth every minute of it!!! Thanks so much for sharing!

    • The Cozy Apron September 20, 2012, 6:48 am

      Chenea, thanks for coming back to share your experience with the recipe. Yes, it does require a little extra time because of the various elements; but you can taste the difference because of it. So glad you both enjoyed it so much!

  • Christian M. January 23, 2013, 6:09 pm

    This is an amazing recipe! The sauce alone knocked people’s socks off (I did adjust th garlic amount, doubling it, we’re garlic nuts!) – for some reason, I had leftover sauce, so I added cubed chicken breast, served it over angel hair pasta with rosemary garlic bread. Thank you for sharing this one, a definite place in my top 10 best dishes!

    • The Cozy Apron January 23, 2013, 7:28 pm

      Hi Christian, thanks for your kind comments – so glad this recipe was a hit for you! And it’s always a plus when you can get two dishes out of one recipe’s ingredients, as well!

  • Chelsea February 11, 2013, 8:58 am

    Hi! I was wondering if you had any suggestions for vegetarian substitutes for the pancetta/bacon and chicken base?

    Thanks!!

    • The Cozy Apron February 11, 2013, 2:39 pm

      Hi Chelsea! I would sub a veggie base (they carry those at Whole Foods or other speciality type stores), and maybe a a vegetarian “bacon”? I think the same brand that makes “Tofurky” products just may make a “bacon”-type product as well! You can always just leave it out.

  • Kellie Glenn May 21, 2013, 6:40 pm

    I saw this recipe on Pinterest and had to make it because of the picture alone. I was not disappointed, the basil sauce is to die for. I too had left over sauce and I love the comment above about how she used the sauce. Thank you so much for this delicious meal that will be a staple in my home for years to come!

    • The Cozy Apron May 21, 2013, 7:52 pm

      Thank you for that, Kellie – to have this recipe be part of the “staple” recipes in your home is truly an honor. So glad you enjoyed this, and that you took some time to come back and share your experience with me!

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