tomato sauce

lasagna tart

11th September 2018

sunkissed and content…

A very decadent and comforting dish for a special occasion. A bit rich on its own but goes well as part of the main meal, accompanied by a simple rice dish and a variety of salads. The parmesan crust is divine, crunchy and flavourful.

lasagna tart

Preparation time  – 40 minutes

Baking – 15 minutes

Serves 6 – 8 or one 9-10 inch tart.

Recipe adapted from here. 

ingredients

2 medium/350g zucchini, sliced into very thin coins

¾ tsp fine-grain rock salt

tart crust

½ cup/75g unbleached all-purpose flour

½ cup/70g whole wheat flour

½ cup/115g unsalted butter, well chilled + cut into small cubes

2 cups/100g loosely packed grated parmesan cheese

½ tsp fine-grain rock salt

2 Tbsp ice cold water

tomato sauce

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 tsp each of finely chopped fresh rosemary and oregano leaves

¾ tsp red pepper flakes

400g cherry tomatoes, finely chopped

½ tsp fine-grain rock salt

½ tsp brown sugar

 

1 cup/250g ricotta cheese

¼ cup small basil leaves

preparation

1.  Preheat your oven to 190C/375F. Oil a 10-inch tart pan and set aside.

prepare the zucchini

2.  Slice the zucchini using a mandoline or knife into 2mm slices. Place in a bowl, sprinkle over the salt and gently toss until evenly covered with salt. Transfer to a colander and let drain while you make the tart shell and tomato sauce.

make the tart crust

3.  Place both flours, butter cubes, parmesan and salt in a food processor and pulse quickly about 25 times. You are looking for a sandy textured blend, with pea-sized pieces of butter. With a few more pulses, blend in the 2 tablespoons of ice water. The dough should stick together when you pinch it with your fingers.

4.  Pour the dough into the tart pan. Working quickly, press the dough uniformly into the pan by pressing across the bottom and working up towards the sides. Place in the refrigerator and chill for 15 minutes. You can use this time to finely chop the tomatoes.

bake the tart crust

5.  Pull the tart out of the refrigerator and poke a few times with the tongs of a fork. Cover the tart with baking paper and fill generously with pie weights (I used chickpeas). Bake for 15 minutes, pull the tart out of the oven and gently remove the baking paper containing the pie weights.

6.  Place the uncovered tart back in the oven, weight free, and allow to cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

prepare the tomato sauce

7.  Stir the olive oil, red pepper flakes and finely chopped herbs in a saucepan, cook over medium-high heat until the herbs start to sizzle just a bit.

8.  Stir in the finely chopped tomatoes, bring to a simmer, cook the sauce down, uncovered, for 20 minutes, then stir in the salt and sugar, set aside.

to assemble the tart

9.  Use a spatula to spread half the ricotta cheese across the base of the tart shell. Then spoon half the tomato sauce over the ricotta and arrange half the zucchini in a single layer on top of the sauce. If your zucchinis are still quite wet, press them with a paper towel. Spoon the remaining ricotta over the zucchinis and push it around a bit with your fingers so that it forms a layer. Arrange another layer of zucchini and finish with the remaining sauce. You want the filling to nearly, but not quite fill the pan.

to bake the tart

10.  Place the tart on a rimmed baking sheet (in case you end up with an overflow) and bake for 40 minutes or until the tart is cooked through. Remove and allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle the top with fresh basil leaves.

lasagna with a creamy pesto sauce

5th June 2011

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I found gold today at the very back of the garden, right next to the chicken coop under a very neglected grapefruit tree.  Gardener’s gold in the form of well-rotted chicken and geese poo, mixed around with lots and lots of hay, garden scraps, the odd bit of newspaper and grass clippings. Sitting there for months and months after the chicken house was cleaned, and decomposing with an abundance of nutrients and goodness.  Not totally composted, but perfect for use as mulch for the vegetable garden.  I managed four heaped wheelbarrows and spread this gold over at least three triangles of my garden. This will keep the weeds at bay, and then be dug back into the soil for the next lot of vegetables.  I could feel the vibrations of all the recently planted little summer seedlings saying, “Thank you, thank you.”  Tiny and green and full of hope, adventure and abundance – a promise of good things to come.

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In this recipe, I am giving you the tomato sauce that I use for pizza bases, pasta sauce and of course, it is perfect for this lasagna.  In Summer, I use fresh tomatoes from the garden and fresh basil leaves when they are obscenely abundant.  I ensure this sauce has long, slow cooking to give it a depth of flavour and richness in texture.  With a fresh, green, baby leaf salad from the garden, it is so delicious.

This is quite a decadent lasagna, or at least for me it is, but it is so delicious.  It is something which we spoil ourselves once a month.   To give a more robust taste, sprinkle chopped walnuts on top.

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lasagna with a creamy pesto sauce

If wanting to keep this lasagna vegan, omit the cheese and sprinkle the top with whole-wheat breadcrumbs and chopped walnuts/pine nut parmesan, before baking.  When making it vegan brush thin slices of eggplant with oil and saute in a hot skillet until soft and assemble for the last layer of the lasagna.

Serves 4, with seconds

ingredients 

1 packet lasagna sheets (I usually do four layers in a 13 x 8-inch deep baking dish)

1 – 2 cups grated mozzarella cheese

tomato sauce 

¼ cup olive oil

4 sprigs fresh oregano

4 sprig fresh thyme

2 x 10cm twigs fresh rosemary

¼ tsp chilli flakes

1 fresh bay leaf

1 large/220g fennel bulb, cut into thick rounds

2 medium/130g carrots, chopped

1 medium/100g red bell pepper

1 x 140g tube tomato paste

1kg ripe cherry tomatoes

1 heaped tsp fine rock salt

1 heaped tsp sugar

creamy pesto sauce 

2 – 4 big bunches basil (110g basil leaves, stems removed)

1 cup raw cashew nuts – soaked for 4 hours

1 cup nut milk

¼ tsp freshly ground pepper

pinch fine rock salt

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for the tomato sauce 

1.  Wash the cherry tomatoes and leave them whole, chop the fennel into thick rounds, chop the carrot and red pepper (I like to keep the vegetables quite chunky, especially the fennel) – set aside.

2.  In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, drizzle in the oil, add fennel and fry until it starts to soften, add oregano, rosemary, thyme, bay leaf and chilli flakes, fry 1 minute, then stir in vegetables and tomato paste – simmer 5 minutes.

3.   Add whole cherry tomatoes, cover and simmer gently for 1 – 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

4.  Turn off the heat, take out bay leaf, rosemary, oregano and thyme stalks, add sugar and salt.  Set aside.

make the creamy pesto 

5.  Drain the cashews and add to blender, with nut milk –  blend until creamy, (depending on the consistency you may need to add more milk) add basil leaves, salt and pepper, and blend again until well incorporated.  You want the sauce quite thick. Set aside.

assemble the lasagna 

6.  Ladle 1 cup of tomato sauce into the bottom of a baking dish, then a layer of lasagna sheets, add a layer of tomato sauce and lasagna sheet and add a layer of sauce, then half the pesto cream. Finish with a last sheet of lasagna and remaining pesto cream on top.

7.  Sprinkle with grated mozzarella and a handful of roughly chopped walnuts or pine nut parmesan.

8.  When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 190C/350F.  Cover the lasagna with foil and bake for 20 minutes, then remove the foil, and bake for another 20 – 30 minutes until golden on top – allow to sit for 5 minutes, so that the juices settle and the filling firms up.

Serve with your favourite green salad.

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