Lasagna with Homemade Pasta Noodles

I hadn’t made lasagna in a long time and I wanted to try it with homemade noodles.  This turned out to be the best lasagna I’ve ever had!

Ricotta Filling

  • 1 lb. Ricotta (drained*)
  • 1 Egg beaten
  • 1/2 Cup Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1/4 Cup Italian Parsley, Chopped
  • Sea Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Freshly ground nutmeg**

*Put your Ricotta in a strainer over a bowl and let sit for approximately 1 hour – you will be amazed at how much liquid drains out.  This produces a lasagna that is not runny!

**Fresh nutmeg is fantastic – this adds a great taste to your ricotta filling!

Mix all ingredients together well, allow to rest in the fridge for 20 minutes to set up.

Marinara Sauce

Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis Recipe


  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 small onions, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 (32-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1/2 lb. sausage & 1/2 lb. ground beef*

In a large casserole pot, heat the oil over a medium-high flame. Add the onions and garlic and saute until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the celery, carrots, and 1/2 teaspoon of each salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bay leaves, and simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Season the sauce with more salt and pepper, to taste. (The sauce can be made 1 day ahead. Cool, then cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over medium heat before using.)

* I made this sauce over the summer with fresh tomatoes and froze quite a few containers as it can be used as a base for many recipes.  For this lasagna I added sausage and beef to the marinara recipe.  I browned the sausage and beef together and added to my sauce.

Homemade Lasagna Noodles

For the noodles I used my “go to” pasta dough recipe.  I rolled out my dough and cut my noodles to measure in wide strips.  Boil water and add noodles 2 – 3 at a time and cook for approximately 1 minute (fresh pasta cooks up fast and you don’t want your noodles overcooked).  Repeat the process until all noodles have been cooked.


Spread a small amount of sauce on the bottom of a lasagna pan.  Place 3 noodles over sauce.  Spread sauce mixture over noodles along with Ricotta filling and top with 3 more noodles.  Repeat until all noodles have been used, ending with noodles on top, spreading with a small amount of sauce on top of the noodles.  You can do 3 or 4 layers of noodles.

Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for approximately 1 hour and let sit, covered in foil for approximately 15 minutes before serving.  Cut into serving sizes and be prepared for a wonderful taste sensation! 


Chili-Grilled Eggplant and Sweet Roasted Pepper Tartlets in Poppy Seed Shells

I’ve been trying to use seasonal vegetables and now that Fall is in full swing I’ve made quite a few butternut squash recipes. Not to overdo the Butternut Squash recipes, I started looking for eggplant, another great Fall vegetable.  I really enjoy grilled eggplant, however, I decided I needed to diversify and switch it up with some new recipes.  I came across this recipe (Monica has a great food blog – check it out!) that combined my love of grilled eggplant in a tart!  Not only does it consist of grilled eggplant and roasted red peppers (another favorite of mine), but it has ricotta cheese and lemon.  Perfection!  Speaking of lemon, I discovered a microplane that is perfect for zesting!  I wish I had known about this sooner, but I’m reaping the rewards now – what a great kitchen tool!  This recipe is a little labor intensive, but very good!  The lemon flavored ricotta along with the grilled eggplant and roasted red pepper is a perfect flavor medley that will be sure to please your palate.  Enjoy!

One “trick” I didn’t know before involves eggplant and salt!  To remove as much moisture as possible and reduce any bitterness in an eggplant simply peel and slice the eggplant and sprinkle liberally with salt and allow to sit for an hour.  Put the eggplant slices on a cooling rack with a jellyroll sheet underneath to catch the moisture.  You will be amazed at all the moisture that is removed from the eggplant.  Be sure to rinse the eggplant and pat dry to remove all the salt.

Chili-Grilled Eggplant and Sweet Roasted Pepper Tartlets in Poppy Seed Shells

Poppy Seed Tartlets shells
For the tart dough – makes 4

6 tablespoons poppy seeds
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoon unsalted butter, cold and cut into ½ – inch cubes
1 egg
2 tablespoon cold water

Preheat oven to 350F.  Put four 4-inch tartlet pans on baking sheet.  Combine the poppy seeds, flour and salt in a food processor and pulse 2-3 times until incorporated.  Add the butter and pulse again until resembles coarse bread crumbs.  Stir in the egg and cold water, pulse again until incorporated, test the dough by pressing with your fingers, it should come together.  Put the dough onto a lightly floured work surface, knead it a couple of times, then form it into a flat disc. (note: you can store the dough at this point, by wrapping it in plastic film. Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month).

Divide the dough into 2 pieces.  Roll one piece of dough out with a rolling pin to about ¼ inch thick.  Cut the dough to fit 2 of the tartlet pans.  Gently press the dough into each pan and trim the pastry flush with the pans to crate a neat appearance.  Roll the other half of the dough and line the remaining tartlet pans.  Place the baking sheet into the oven and bake until light brown, 12 to 15 minutes.  Put the tartlets on a cooling rack and let cool before removing the baked crust from each pan.

Put each tartlet shell on an individual serving plate.  Spoon 2 to 3 tablespoons of the ricotta filling into the center of each shell.  Top with 1/3 cup of chili-grilled Eggplant and Sweet Roasted Peppers, mounding it slightly.  Garnish with the balsamic Julienne roasted peppers.  Serve the tartlets at room temperature or, if desired, carefully place them on a baking sheet for warming.  Heat in a 350F oven for 10 minutes.

Cool Ricotta Filling:

½ cup ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped red bell pepper
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
½ tablespoon whole milk
Salt (to taste)

Put all the ingredients into a small bowl and stir to combine well.

Chili-Grilled Eggplant and Sweet Roasted Pepper Filling

1 pound eggplant (about 2 medium)
¼ cup chili oil (found in most Asian markets)
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
¼ to ½ teaspoon ground cumin
Salt (to taste)
1 medium red bell pepper*
1 medium yellow bell pepper*
1 small clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Preheat the grill to medium.  Slide the eggplant into ¼ – inch-thick slices and put the slices on a baking sheet.  Stir the chili oil and the ¼ cup olive oil together into a small bowl.  Lighting brush both sides of the eggplant slices with the oil mixture and dust with a little ground cumin and salt.

Heat the grill.  Place the eggplant and peppers on the grill.  Roast the eggplant until soft and well marked by the grill, about 2 minutes on each side.  Remove from the grill to cool.  Roast the peppers until black on all sides, 10 to 12 minutes.  Remove from the grill and let cool.  Peel the black skin off the peppers and the stem, and take out the seeds.  Put the eggplant slices, the remaining 2 tablespoon olive oil, half of each of the roasted peppers, garlic, and a little salt in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse until chunky, about 5 to 10 seconds. Remove from the bowl and season with more salt, if needed.

Cut the remaining roasted peppers into Julienne strips and toss with the balsamic vinegar.  Garnish the eggplant mixture with the Julienne balsamic peppers.

*Purchased jarred or canned roasted red and yellow peppers can be used to save time.