One of things I dislike about traditional lasagna is that all the ingredients sink to the middle when you cut into it, so generally I avoid it. I don’t mind the time it takes to chop and assemble all the ingredients, but I do mind not getting every ingredient in one bite.
So I decided to make lasagna…with a twist. I admit that I was going to brave another attempt until I got to the store and could only find the pre-cooked lasagna noodles. I don’t really care for those flat sheets, which is all they had, so the decision was made for me. But what I did find was whole wheat medium shells that were tri-color. Mmmmmm.
Since I already had ALL the lasagna ingredients in my shopping cart I decided I would make Shell-sagna and keep my fingers crossed that it was slightly more than edible.
So with a counter full of ingredients and a fully charged Kindle ready to read to me as I chopped, sautéed and simmered, I set about making this new dish.
1 scallion, sliced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 onions, chopped
4 cups medium pasta shells
1 ½ cup ricotta cheese
1 cup black olives, chopped
8 oz. Mozzarella cheese, shredded
10 tomatoes chopped
1 can (7 oz.) tomato sauce
1 ½ tbsp. Rosemary
1 tsp. chopped basil
1 tbsp. oregano
½ tsp. sage
1 tbsp. olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
The key to making lasagna a less daunting task is first, distraction. Then organization. Now I’m not ashamed to admit that I can be a pretty disorganized cook, because I thrive in chaos. But unless I want my shell-sagna to turn into a 3 hour process, I prefer to take a more organized route.
Gather all the ingredients first then chop and slice and grate as needed. Once everything has been prepped then I prepare the stove by boiling water and heating oil and all that other fun stuff.
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta as instructed.
- Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.
- Add onions and cook 7 minutes, or until transparent.
- Stir in 2/3 of the garlic and cook 4 minutes.
- Gradually add tomatoes and tomato sauce, stirring regularly until blended.
- Season with salt, pepper and herbs and let simmer at least 30 minutes. More time may be required for a thicker sauce, I simmered this sauce for 45 minutes.
- Combine ricotta, remaining garlic, scallion, salt and pepper plus a handful of mozzarella in a mixing bowl.
- Preheat oven to 350° F
- Now it’s time to layer the Shell-sagna in a 9 x 13 oven safe dish.
- Pour some sauce on the bottom of the dish to prevent the pasta from sticking, then place the first layer of pasta over the sauce.
- Pour a thin layer of sauce over shells then spread ricotta mixture on top until a thin layer remains.
- Pour in the rest of the pasta and cover in sauce. Top with cheese and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until cheese is golden brown.
I thought about serving a salad to go with this, but it was pretty substantial so it wasn’t necessary. I did however pair it with a lovely Romanian red wine (a gift from the in-laws) and the meal was complete. Now we have leftovers for a few days.