Friday, March 11

Solar-Baked Pepperoni Lasagna - Silky Smooth

Silky Smooth Pepperoni Lasagna
Sometimes you just want an entree to melt in your mouth, yet, still have a personality that keeps you coming back for more. Well, that's what happened when I created this recipe. Didn't even have to pre-cook the lasagna noodles. How's that for a lazy approach to good eating! The trick is to go the extra mile and incorporate a creamy bechamel sauce in the layers. Served with some crusty Artisan Bread and a fine bottle of your favorite red wine, you'll be singing O Sole Mio before the night's over; I promise!


Tomato Sauce:
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 small can of tomato sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste. (If you dehydrated your tomatoes, last year, reconstitute to two cups.
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon of minced garlic
1 teaspoon each: marjoram, oregano, and thyme
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp sugar/Stevia. 
4 ounces chopped pepperoni slices 
Place all ingredients in blender and thoroughly puree. Pour into separate bowl. (Now, here's the tricky part. You won't have to cook the lasagna noodles, first, if you add just a touch of water to the sauce so that it looks like this, rather than too thick. The noodles will absorb the water while baking and everything works like a Swiss watch.)

Bechamel Sauce: In a saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add 2 tablespoons flour, salt and pepper to taste. Use whisk to thoroughly blend as flour cooks, approximately two minutes. (It will look lumpy) Slowly add either 2 cups of canned or whole milk (preheated in microwave to speed up time stirring in saucepan) to cooked butter-flour mix, a little at a time, while continuing to stir to keep sauce smooth. Do not let boil, but let it reach aggressive simmer to thoroughly cook flour; set aside.

Cheese Mixture: Here's where you can use your imagination and create your own favorite blend. I used 1 cup each of the following shredded cheeses: mild cheddar, mozzarella, and monterey jack with jalapeno peppers, 1/4 cup parmesan, and 1 cup Ricotta, plus 1 egg with salt and pepper to taste. Now, here, you can do whatever you want -- put all ingredients in a bowl (I did) and thoroughly blend, or, mix shredded cheeses together, set aside; then, in a separate bowl, mix the Ricotta and parmesan cheese with the egg, salt and pepper. 

Lasagna construction: There will be three repeated layers. Before spraying the lasagna pan, decide how many noodles strips you will need by layering them in the pan, first. It's not necessary that each and every one be perfect and you can use up broken pieces to reach from one end to the other. 

Ladle just enough tomato sauce to cover bottom of pan. Add a single layer of lasagna noodles all going in the same direction. Add thin layer of shredded cheeses and egg-cheese mixture (or, if using the fully-blended mixture, make 1/4" flat strips by placing a couple of tablespoons in a lightly-dusted plastic bag and then rolling flat and cutting off strips to lay over noodles crosswise). Don't crowd because cheese will melt and fill in the spaces. Pour a light layer of bechamel sauce over cheeses. 
Repeat, twice: tomato sauce, lasagna noodles, cheeses, bechamel sauce.
Cover with foil and bake in preheated solar oven for approximately 1-1/2 to 2 hours, until lasagna is bubbly and an inserted toothpick slides through all layers. Remove and let stand for at least 15 to 20 minutes, before serving. You're forgiven if you talk with your mouth full, while praising this unbelievably creamy lasagna treat!

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