Tuesday, May 11, 2010
The Long Awaited Lasagna
After discovering that gluten (wheat) does a number on my body (flu-like symptoms and digestion problems to name a few) I thought my days of gorging on pasta were over. Well, thank my lucky stars that did not happen. I found this pasta recipe at my local library from, I think, one of the very first gluten free recipe books. I, of course, added my personal touch to it and made a few changes which consists of adding some fiber and modifying the amount of the starches and flours.
Here you go:
1/3 cup tapioca flour
2 tbsp. potato starch
1/3 cup corn starch (possibly more)
1 tspn. xanthan gum
1/4 cup psyllium husk for fiber (optional)
1/2 tspn. salt
2 large eggs
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
12 strips of Nancy's homemade lasagna noodles
9x13 lasagna pan
1 24 oz. jar pre-made tomato sauce (or homemade)
2-3 tbsp. pesto (can use fresh chopped basil instead)
4 cloves crushed garlic
1 cup chopped spinach
16 oz. ricotta (can use tofu for a dairy free option)
one medium sized sweet potato, shredded (skin and all)
6- 8 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded or sliced (can leave out if can't do dairy)
other veggies like zuchinni, diced (optional)
In a dry mixing bowl combine the tapioca flour, potato starch, cornstarch and xanthan gum. I use a crank sifter by putting all the dry ingredients into it first and sift it all through. this helps to mix it. Then once in the bowl I mix the dry ingredients again with a fork.
In another bowl mix the eggs, salt and vegetable oil. Before combining the wet ingredients with the dry make sure you are set up to roll out the dough because once all the ingredients are combined you have very little time to work with the dough before the corn starch takes over and makes things hard.
To roll the dough I use a wooden roller on top of a freshly corn starched wooden cutting board. You want to have a dry clean surface that is lightly coated with corn starch so the dough doesn't stick to the surface. Also, make sure to coat the roller with corn starch too.
So now, that you are ready to roll your dough combine the wet with the dry and mix until you form a slightly sticky dough. If the dough is too sticky (you can't get it off your hands and it is not forming into a ball) add a little bit more corn starch. You can also coat your hands with corn starch too in order to form a ball and then place it on your rolling surface. Corn starch can be your friend or your enemy so start with a little and you can always add more. Too much and you get one big hard glump of nothin, too little and the dough sticks to everything. Once the dough is on the surface start your rolling. You can get it pretty thin depending on how you like it. I roll it until it looks as though I can make about 12-15 lasagna noodles. Usually I get about 12 which is fine but it's nice to have extras in case some break or stick together after boiling.
Once the dough is rolled out you are ready to cut your noodles. I use a plain ol' butter knife. They don't have to all be the same size and length--who's gonna notice once they're covered with sauce and stuff? After they are cut I move each lasagna noodle to a dry, clean plate then put on a pot of water with a bit of salt and wait for it to come to a boil. Once the water is boiling rapidly, add the noodles. They don't need to long to cook, about 6 minutes or so. *If you notice your noodles are still a bit sticky in some sections make sure to coat the sticky areas with corn starch, otherwise the noodles will stick together when boiling.
After the 6 minutes (or so) are up pour the pasta into a large colander and cool the noodles with cold water. Check to make sure none are stuck to each other. If so, attempt to gently peel them apart.
While the pasta noodles are boiling start to prep for the lasagna. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat the bottom of the lasagna pan with a thin layer of tomato sauce.
Combine the garlic, pesto, sweet potato, spinach and ricotta in a large mixing bowl. Add the first layer of noodles to the bottom of the lasagna pan then put the ricotta mixture on top. If you are a sauce person you can add tomato sauce too. Add the next layer of noodles and either add your choice of mozzarella, veggies (if using) and sauce or you can continue with the ricotta mixture. Once all your layers are done top it off with sauce and mozzarella.
Cover the lasagna with aluminum foil and place in the center rack of the oven. Bake for about 45 minutes or until you can see the lasagna is boiling and the cheese is fully melted.
Remove from the oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes with the aluminum removed. Enjoy!
*For full flavor I like to prepare it early in the day and cook it for 30 minutes, take it out and let it cool. Then I bake it again for 30-45 minutes right before serving. This helps to evaporate some of the liquid and allows the flavors to combine.