Welcome To Our Table – Mangia! Mangia!

So far the Mediterranean diet has taken me out to enjoy authentic Greek cuisine on the Danforth, and Spanish Tapas in Port Credit, and now I invite you to enjoy homemade Italian lasagna straight from my Mom’s kitchen.

It’s a laboursome process, but I assure you the end result is worth all the effort, and your taste buds, and all that gather around your table, will thank you!

Let’s get cooking!

Before you even put on your apron, or tie your head-kerchief, you will need to bring heaps of patience, a generous measure of love, a dollop of humour, and a sprinkling of lively music…. We usually crank up the Big Night soundtrack, Italian opera (i.e. Tosca, or Rigoletto), or Dean Martin.… I haven’t known a time when my family didn’t breakout into a full on singalong when Volare comes on.

Note: we don’t have exact measures, as we do everything ‘by eye’ and feel.

The Dough

  • 7 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • All-purpose flour
  1. In a large bowl add oil, salt, and eggs. Whisk together with fork.
  2. Incorporate flour slowly and add enough so that the dough is a sticky, yet workable consistency.
  3. Transfer dough to board and knead on floured surface.
  4. Work until smooth and feels like play-dough. Kneading will take 7-10 minutes.
  5. Shape dough into a firm ball, cover with cling-wrap and put in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.

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The Meatballs

  • Ground meat
  • Day old bread
  • Water
  • Garlic (minced)
  • 1 egg
  • Parmigiano (Parmesan) cheese
  1. Place bread into a bowl. Moisten with a bit of water to soften, and crumble it up with your hands.
  2. Add garlic, cheese, and egg. Work with your hands.
  3. Add ground meat and continue working with your hands until all ingredients are incorporated.
  4. Shape into meatballs and set aside.

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The Sauce

  • Olive oil
  • Garlic
  • Salt
  • Jarred tomatoes (preferably homemade)
  • Meat (meatballs, sausage, etc.)
  1. Over medium heat, sauté garlic in olive oil (enough to cover the bottom of a large pot).
  2. Add jarred tomatoes, and allow tomatoes to simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Break the sausage into pieces, add to sauce, and allow the sauce to simmer for an additional 20 minutes.
  4. Add salt, and let the sauce cook for another 1 hour.
  5. In the last 20-30 minutes of cooking, add meatballs. Some people sauté the meat before putting into the sauce, but this only makes the meat hard. By adding the meat in raw, it will remain tender.

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A good sauce takes 2-3 hours to make at a slow boil.

Preparing the Pasta

While the sauce is cooking, it’s time to roll out the dough.

  1. Take it out of the refrigerator, and on your kneading board, slice it into 1 inch thick pieces.
  2. On the floured surface, pat the slices and line them up to be put through the pasta press.
  3. Work the pieces through the pasta press – the press has a dial and each turn of the dial tightens it.
  4. Repeat this process until you work the dough through the press 2 notches at a time. It will go from 1 inch thickness to approximately 2 millimetres.

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Cooking the Pasta

  1. Prepare an area for your cooked pasta. Place a tablecloth on that spot and dampen it with water – this will prevent it from sticking.
  2. Fill a large bowl with cold water and set next to the stove.
  3. In a large pot, bring water to a boil and add 1 tablespoon of salt, and 1 tablespoon of oil – this will prevent the pasta from sticking.
  4. Add 2, or 3 sheets of pasta at a time to the boiling water. Let boil for 2 minutes.
  5. Remove pasta from boiling water and place in bowl with cold water. Let sit for 2 minutes.
  6. Transfer pasta from cold water onto the dampened tablecloth.
  7. Repeat process until all the pasta is cooked.

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Assembly

  • Butter or lard
  • Mozzarella cheese (grated)
  • Hardboiled eggs, sliced (optional)
  1. Grease a large casserole pan with butter or lard.
  2. Add some sauce to the bottom of the pan.
  3. Add sheets of pasta (cut down to size).
  4. Add sauce, mozzarella, and meatballs.
  5. Repeat (you should get 4 to 5 layers).
  6. Top with sauce and mozzarella.
  7. Bake in oven at 350o for 30 minutes.
  8. Enjoy – you’ve earned it!

imageFrom start to finish, this dish takes 3-4 hours to make, and as such, we don’t make it regularly. A meal like this is meant to be savoured and shared with family and friends, clinking a glass of homemade wine and enjoying lively conversation, while being serenaded by the greats…

Volare, oh oh

E cantare, oh oh oh oh

No wonder my happy heart sings

Your love has given me wings

Nel blu, dipinto di blu

Felice di stare lassu

For my Week 20 food journal click here.

9 thoughts on “Welcome To Our Table – Mangia! Mangia!

  1. Yes, of course! Scuzi! I use ground meat for the homemade sauce… Mine is also an authentic Italiano recipe. Buon apetito!

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  2. I bet you’ve never made such melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness for some of your best friends with whom you spent an inordinate amount of time in the past… Hmmm, you should consider making it up to them by inviting me… ahem… them over for a feast. This diet I like!

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