I’m back with my Dutch Oven and a new recipe for what I call “Lazy Lasagna”–but it could also be a pasta bake, if you’d like. I call it Lazy Lasagna, because it has all the ingredients of my regular lasagna without all the time consuming layering.
To make this dish, I started with cooking two boxes (two pounds) of Barilla’s Mezzi Rigatoni, which is a short but wide tube of pasta. I cook the rigatoni for 10 minutes only, because I want to keep my pasta firm. Regular rigatoni or even ziti would work just as well, so feel free to use what you have.
When the pasta has cooked, drain off the water in a colander and return the cooked pasta to the original pot. It’s helpful if you do not overly drain your pasta for this one, because a little of the pasta water will help when mixing your ingredients into the pasta.
To the drained pasta, add a full container of ricotta, a jar of pre-made sauce OR your own homemade sauce, a generous portion of shredded mozzarella cheese and seasoning. I like to add salt, pepper, a touch of crushed pepper, and a blend of dried basil, oregano and rosemary, but obviously adjust to your preference. Mix until blended well.
Add some sauce to the bottom of your Dutch Oven then add your pasta mixture. Two pounds of pasta with all the other mix-ins will fill a 5.5 quart Dutch Oven almost to the top. If you have a smaller pan, adjust accordingly.
Top the pasta mixture with the remaining sauce and then sprinkle the top with shredded mozzarella and then a healthy portion of shredded, dry cheese (I use Stella Three Cheese Italian, which is a mixture of Parmesan, Asiago and Romano cheeses).
Cover and bake in your preheated 375 degree oven for 45 minutes. Then remove the cover and bake for another 10-15 minutes to brown the cheese on top.
Two boxes of Mezzi Rigatoni or similar tube shaped pasta
Two jars of prepared pasta sauce or equivalent of homemade sauce
One 32 ounce container of ricotta cheese
Two cups (or so) shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup shredded Italian cheese blend
Seasonings such as salt, pepper, crushed pepper, basil, oregano and rosemary
I got so excited when I posted about my Crusty Italian Bread, I forgot to actually give the ingredients list. My apologies!!
6 cups all purpose flour
3 cups room temperature water
1 tsp Active yeast (about a half of the package if you are using the package)
1-2 tsp garlic salt (adjust to your tastes)
1-2 tablespoons Italian herb mix OR
1-2 tablespoons total of Rosemary, Basil and Oregano (adjust to your tastes, of course!)
1/3 cup shredded Romano and/or Parmesan cheese
Note: I assembled all my ingredients except for the water at home and took them in a zippy bag to the place we are visiting
Mix all your dry ingredients together. When thoroughly mixed, add the water one cup at a time while stirring with a spoon. Continue to mix until incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit for 12-18 hours.
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees, with the covered Dutch Oven inside
Remove Dutch Oven from Oven (carefully)
Gently form a ball with your dough; no kneading
Dust the DO with flour and put your dough inside; replace cover
Return the covered pot to the preheated oven and bake 30 minutes covered
After 30 minutes, remove the cover (carefully…there may be steam!) and cook for an additional 20 minutes
Remove pot from oven and turn out your loaf and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before cutting
And that’s it, folks!
As my son would say: “Easy peasey, lemon squeezy!”
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A few days ago I posted about how to make a basic loaf of white bread in my new Dutch Oven. Although it was a little bit of heaven eating my own homemade bread, it was still rather “white bread” for me and I needed to improve it somehow.
Before I tell you about the updates I made, I wanted to tell you a something about myself. I am rather persistent. Well, okay, I am probably beyond persistent. Especially when it comes to improving on something I have created. Yes, I know, no one is perfect. And, yes, I am trying to embrace my imperfections and all that “wabi sabi” stuff…but still, I will ruminate over how I can make things better for the next time. Well anyway, in this case, my persistency has paid off with a beautiful (but still simple) update to my Crusty Dutch Oven white bread and I have to share it with you.
All the basics are the same; no crazy new steps. You still need a big bowl, lots of flour and a Dutch Oven, but you just need to add some ingredients to your flour and yeast mix.
I mixed up a batch of dough last night with the flour and yeast, but I substituted garlic salt for the regular salt.
Then I added about a half a cup of Stella Three Cheese Italian Cheese, which is a combination of Romano, Parmesan and Asiago. While I like all three cheeses, I have to admit that Romano is my favorite, but it is difficult to find freshly shredded without the other two mixed in. I like the Stella brand, because the shreds are long and distinct. As an aside, this cheese is a great staple to have on hand, because it tastes fabulous sprinkled on pasta or soup!
Before adding the water, I also added a pinch of crushed red peppers and a healthy amount of Italian seasonings–Rosemary, Oregano and Basil–all dried. I was hesitant to add any additional wet ingredients like olive oil or even fresh herbs, because I didn’t know if it would upset this basic bread.
I whisked the flour, yeast and garlic salt with the cheese and herbs BEFORE I added the water. I proceeded with the recipe as originally detailed in the original recipe by covering it with plastic wrap and a towel and letting it set overnight in a warmish spot in my kitchen.
In the morning I heated my oven and Dutch Oven to 450. I then made a ball of my dough and put it in the preheated pot, cooking it for 30 minutes covered and then 20 minutes uncovered. I immediately popped it out onto my counter, so it would remain crusty and allowed it to cool.
While baking I could not believe how heavenly my kitchen smelled. It’s almost impossible to describe the aroma! It smelled like the Italian kitchens of my youth and the warmth of the oven was soothing as well!
I tried to wait to allow the loaf to cool, but I could not help myself…I had to see what it looked like…and here it is!
Let me tell you…it TASTES even better than it looks! I’m in Heaven!
I do hope you will give the recipe a try and let me know how it goes for you.
P.S. A lot of people were interested in how to make my Open Faced Meatball Sandwiches that I posted on Facebook and Instagram. I’m not holding out, but everyone here wanted one and I soon ran out of my sister Teresa’s famous meatballs and sauce.
In order for me to post good enough recipe, I have to get Teresa to “guest blog” for me. She makes the most perfect sauce and meatballs, that I have relinquished the family duty to her from now on.
I am working on her, but she doesn’t understand why anyone would want to post their food and recipes on the internet–she laughs at me all the time!
If I can get her to guest blog, you will NOT be disappointed in her input…so stay tuned! Until then, here’s a snap of said sandwiches (they were “to die for”) for you to drool over. Yes, I know, #foodporn