Lasagna Challenge, Part 2

Remember the whole Me Being Italian* Thing? Yeah…me neither.

Sometimes I get lost in clouds of turmeric and coriander, my mind filled with sitar music and bhangra beats. And then I am reminded:  I grew up on cannoli,  classical music, pasta and hearing my Grandma say, “Va fa a Napoli!” when annoyed.

Imagine my surprise when this very phrase was the subject of a Friends episode.

(If it doesn’t work, copy-paste this:

All of this brings me to my point: things were beginning to feel mighty Indian around here and I decided it was time to bust out my Andrea Bocelli and make a little Lasagna.

A few months ago I began the Lasagna Challenge. This involved 3 lasagna recipes given to me by my sister. I was to make them without altering them or substituting ingredients. I have compulsive recipe-altering behaviours, making this aspect of the challenge very difficult.

Last week, I made Vegetable Lasagna from the Pioneer Woman. Let’s be honest from the get-go: I altered and substituted. I’m sorry, Sarah! I had the best of intentions…

Diversion #1: Lasagna Noodles. I mixed no boil and boil noodles. (GASP) I bought noodles from Bulk Barn–12 for $.75. Since I thought it might be a limited time offer or a fake deal, I grabbed the noodles and never looked back. I got home and had no idea if they were No Boil. Or not. My lasagna-making adventure began with me calling Bulk Barn and sheepishly asking the store manager. He had no clue. In they went “just in case”. I mixed them with No Boil. Somehow this felt very, very wrong.

Alteration #2: “Pour in tomatoes. Use hands to squeeze/crush them.” This was not happening as my hands were bandaged and I’m pretty sure I would look like a homicide suspect if I hand-crushed tomatoes with white bandages on. So I chopped them with scissors. I’m hoping it had the same effect.

Failure #3: No white wine. Sad.

Substitution #4: Ricotta Cheese. The whole Reading Recipes in Ounces and Buying in Grams thing really throws me off. Especially since I don’t really do details. The recipe called for 30 ounces of ricotta cheese, which I learned post-grocery shopping is more than 800 g. I had 300 g. So I looked up substitutions online and found out I could use sour cream. While I heard my Grandma’s scolding voice in my head (Va fa a Napoli!), I poured sour cream into lasagna filling. [Shame]

To my joy, the Bulk Barn noodles were cooked perfectly, and the right size! I didn’t have to do the awkward horizontal noodle thing.

I lied. I didn't listen to Andrea Bocelli, I watched Kabhi Kushi Kabhi Gham

About half way through I realized the water in our apartment building was turned off for the day. Oh. Dear. Do you have any idea how many pots and pans I used prior to this realization? My hubby was very gracious when we returned home at 1 am and found this:

I loved the hidden mushrooms, the spice of the red pepper flakes and the juiciness the whole tomatoes brought. This is a great recipe and I can’t wait to try it again!

*I’m (only) half Italian. But who’s keeping score?


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. yolanda
    Mar 12, 2012 @ 01:26:26

    I bought a pirated dvd of French-dubbed bollywood films in Buja last year (where they make up a significant portion of the dvd market) that includes “Kabhi Kushi Kabhi Gham.” I may have cried… more than once… Anyway, I’m sure it was a great film for making lasagna! Plus, since part of it is set in London, and British people like Italian food, I feel like it makes sense…

    The lasagna looks great! Rather than sour cream, in Canada I often substituted cottage cheese for (part or all of the) recotta in lasagna’s, as it is closer in texture and taste, at least to me. Weirdly, I’m now wondering if one could substitute plain yogurt if desperate, as I now always substitute yogurt for sour cream in everything, only having the former available. Maybe that’s a bit of a stretch. Also, I LOVE mushrooms in lasagna.


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