Once in a business dinner party we were talking with an American couple. They asked me about Turkish cuisine, our famous foods, favorites, etc. They wanted to know Turkish comfort foods. The first things that came to my mind were pizza, or pide- which is a Turkish style pizza, meatballs and spagetti, or any kind of pasta actually, for example manti- which is Turkish cousin of ravioli. They were really surprised with my list- they were not expecting the usual suspects. Sure we love kebabs but what is not to love in my list?? Is it just me, are not these comfortable in 7 continents?
Take, for example, this lasagna! I bet if there is life in outer space they must be eating something similar to this as comfort food. You know hearty, irresponsibly cheesy, dough rich, therapeutic calorie bombs. Yes, I believe in pasta eating aliens! What?
Chicken and Spinach Lasagna
1 tsp olive oil
1 lb ground chicken
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 Tbs dried basil
15-oz ricotta cheese (You can go wild and use 30 oz- even yummier)
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
3 1/2 cups prepared marinara sauce (I make my own marinara sauce, recipe at the bottom)
15 cooked lasagna noodles (will make 3 layers of lasagna)
5 oz baby spinach
1) Add garlic to ground chicken and season with the red pepper flakes, salt and black pepper to taste. (I cover and leave chicken in the fridge for an hour. It is like marinating the meat. You don’t have to do that. I just love to extra treat my food-makes me happy ). Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken to the skillet; cook 5 minutes or until chicken is fairly cooked. Remove from heat and set aside.
2) Combine the basil, eggs, ricotta, and parmesan in a large bowl. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
3) Cook lazagna according to packet instructions.
4) Chop spinach.
5) Mist a 13×9 in. baking dish with cooking spray. Spread 1/3 cup of the marinara sauce over the bottom of the dish so that the bottom layers does not dry. Arrange first layer of noodles over sauce and top with half of the ricotta mixture, half of the chicken mixture, and half of the spinach; top with 1 cup marinara. Repeat layers, ending with noodles and remaining marinara.
6) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cover and bake 40 minutes.
7) Sprinkle with parmesan on top while serving.
(adapted from Giada De Laurentiis)
(yields about 2 quart)
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
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.)