Today’s post is sponsored by Stella® – who has a crazy impressive line of cheese. (I should know, I used four of them!)
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I had the most relaxing, rejuvenating weekend. And it was in Vegas of all places!
My Vegas trips aren’t like most people’s Vegas trips. I usually only go in June, unless for some reason my work flies me out, and it’s only because my fiance is busy working there the entire month.
Can you believe it’s already Monday?! It’s unfair how fast the weekend goes and really unfair about the amount of things I DIDN’T get accomplished!
I had my dreaded dentist appointment Thursday and the medication they’ve had me on since then has made me want to sleep ALL.THE.TIME! Seriously, I happily went to bed at 8 pm Thursday night.
Personalized size ramekins filled with homemade pasta noodles, spicy Italian sausage, fresh-made tomato sauce and cheese – lots and lots of cheese. This is the best lasagna that you’ll ever eat!
I’m not kidding – nor am I the only person that says this. These will by far, be the best homemade mini lasagnas that you will ever eat.
How could it not be? Homemade pasta, homemade ricotta and homemade tomato sauce… the only thing that wasn’t from scratch was the mozzarella cheese and sausage! I had to draw the line somewhere.
I know, I know – you’re probably thinking who in the world has time for this?! But it’s actually not as bad as it sounds.
I usually have a jar or two of homemade tomato sauce in the fridge. Once I started making my own, I really can’t go back to store bought. It tastes so much better, only requires a few ingredients, and the process is very simple.
The ricotta is super easy to make too! Again, three items and it takes about 20 minutes of active cooking. Most of the time you are just waiting for the curds and whey to separate, which involves no work on your part. This can be made a few days ahead of time too and you can use it for so many things!
And the noodles… ooohhh, the homemade noodles! These noodles just require two ingredients (eggs and flour) and (I’m not going to lie) a little effort on your part to make these happen. But seriously, your taste buds will thank you. I can’t even explain how much more delicious homemade noodles are. And if you make the ricotta and tomato sauce ahead of time, you just have to make the noodles day of.
Once all your ingredients are all set to go, I spread everything out on one table and start my lasagna assembly line.
Always start with a little tomato sauce on the bottom so nothing sticks, then noodles, ricotta mixture, meat and cheese on repeat until your ramekin is full, full to the rim! Add a basil leaf on top and bake till bubbly.
Oh.ma.gawd! Best lasagna ever!
I always like learning how to make something from scratch. It’s really interesting understanding how something comes together and I’ve found it surprising how few ingredients most homemade items require. It’s a stark contrast to the ingredients listed on most packages.
I use ricotta in quite a few items… like this and this and this. And I’ve always heard that fresh ricotta is so much more delicious than store bought, but I always thought it would be difficult to make. I was wrong. It requires three simple ingredients, plus a dash of salt – and it’s really not time consuming, most of the time spent the ricotta is draining and doesn’t need your attention.
You start by mixing your milk and cream together with a little bit of salt and setting that over a stove until it just begins to boil. Then you mix in your lemon juice, letting that set just a minute, then strain with cheese cloth over a colander. Seriously – that’s it!
I let mine sit between 90 to 120 minutes. The longer it strains the less water content your ricotta will have, which makes for a thicker end result.
The only thing I was surprised at was the small amount of ricotta that was produced. For three cups of milk and a cup of cream, I was usually left with only a cup of ricotta. If you’re making a pasta dish, I would definitely double the recipe. I did feel like I was throwing so much of the drained liquid (the whey) out. I’m not sure how or what to use whey for, if anyone has any suggestions or recipes, I would love to hear them.
For appetizers or dishes where the ricotta is the star, I will probably make my own. I don’t think I’ll do it when making a big pasta dish like these shells because you most likely won’t be able to tell the difference and I hate feeling like I’ve wasting milk and cream.
It was still really interesting to learn the process and it did make for a ricotta that was thick, creamy and so very, very smooth.
Happy Monday! Let’s start off the week with some homemade pasta- ricotta and spring pea stuffed ravioli in a sage butter sauce to be exact! (I actually started Sunday off with homemade pasta – but it’s all the same, right?)
Cheesy stuffed dough in a creamy butter sauce – oh and there were vegetables in there too. That’s how I justified eating a big plate full, for the vegetables. I’ve been trying to stuff as many seasonal veggies in my mouth as possible so this time I thought I’d do some spring peas.
You can pretty much stuff your ravioli with any vegetable. Just cook it and throw it in the food processor with your cheese mix and you have yourself a “healthy” pasta filling (vegetables = healthy in my book).
I love fresh pasta! Yes, it taste so much better than store bought and yes, it takes very few ingredients, but it is a little work. You’ll need a pasta roller. I have a little handheld one I picked up a few years ago. I’m thinking I just need to invest in the attachment for my KitchenAid mixer, but I haven’t heard the best reviews for it. Has anyone had any experience with one?
The good thing about making homemade ravioli is that you can make a huge batch up and freeze whatever you don’t plan to eat that day. Then all you have to do is add it to some hot water and throw a sauce on top of it. I chose a sage butter sauce. I wanted to keep it simple so that the filling was the star of the dish.
Add a handful more peas on the plate and you have yourself a beautiful spring dish; elegant, fresh and secretly full of cheese. Lots and lots of cheese!