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Friday, July 22, 2011

Roasted Red Pepper Lasagne

This is a recipe liberally adapted from a recipe published in the Washington Post a million years ago for "Subanik", a traditional Costa Rican dish of meats simmered in a spicy red pepper sauce and served over rice.  Many of the ingredients are the same, but I've layered the Latin American flavors onto the Italian lasagne structure. 

You can shorten up your work time by buying red pepper spaghetti sauce (many brands have a "roasted red pepper" flavor), but if you were playing Mystery Dish at home and roasted your red peppers already, now's the time to pull them out of the freezer.

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
Makes about 5 cups

5 large sweet red peppers, roasted and peeled
9-12 roma tomatoes (about 2 1/2 lbs.), halved lengthwise
5 tomatillos, husks removed
1 onion, halved
1-2 dried ancho or Sandia chiles, stems and seeds removed (optional)
1 tbsp olive oil
3 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh thyme or savory
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
Heat oven to 500F (or heat your grill on high).  Arrange the tomatoes cut-side down along with the tomatillos, onion and dry chiles on baking pans if roasting.  Roast (or grill) the veggies for 10-15 minutes, until they start to brown slightly.  Remove and let cool slightly.
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large pot.  Cook the bay leaves and fresh herb sprigs for about 5 minutes, then remove them to a plate (you'll need them later, so don't throw them away).  Turn off the heat.
Add all the veggies (except chiles) plus the salt and sugar to the pot and blend with an immersion blender (or do this in a stand blender or food processor in batches).  Taste for desired heat and add pieces of the toasted chiles, blending after each addition, until the sauce is as spicy as you like.  Add bay leaves and herb sprigs back to the pot.  Bring sauce to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 25 minutes uncovered.  Let cool slightly before using for lasagne.
Roasted Red Pepper Lasagne
Makes 8 servings (1 9x13 pan)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 lb. flank steak, cut into 1" pieces
1 lb. boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1" pieces
salt and pepper
1 lb. lasagne noodles, oven-ready or softened with boiling water
5 cups Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
15 oz. ricotta
8 oz. low-fat cream cheese
1 egg
2 cups shredded mozzarella

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a skillet.  Season the meats with salt and pepper to taste.  Brown the meat in batches (probably 4 batches total), making sure to cook the meat thoroughly.  Put each finished batch into a large bowl to collect any juices.  When all meat is cooked, stir any collected juices into the red pepper sauce.

Combine ricotta, cream cheese and egg thoroughly. 

Assemble lasagne in the following order:
  1. 1 cup sauce
  2. 1/3 of the noodles
  3. 1 1/3 cup sauce
  4. 1/2 of the meat
  5. 1/2 of the ricotta mixture
  6. 1/3 of the mozzarella
  7. 1/3 of the noodles
  8. 1 1/3 cup sauce
  9. remaining meat
  10. remaining ricotta mixture
  11. 1/3 of the mozzarella
  12. remaining noodles
  13. remaining sauce
  14. remaining mozzarella
Wrap in foil and fridge or freeze.  To cook, thaw thoroughly.  Bake at 350F for 1 hour, removing foil for last 10-15 minutes of cooking.  Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.

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