Route 66 and Lasagne

A wee while ago we traveled down Route 66 from Chicago to California.  We did not get to eat any lasagna on our travels. Because no-one wants any lasagna other than Mama’s.  I am going to part with my old family lasagna recipe.  I have no photos of the dish itself as it is very hard to make it look pretty.  I like my lasagna saucy. So instead I will show you some of the service stations we found on the way across the country via as much of Route 66  as we could find.  Then you have something to look at as you are cooking.

We live a stone’s throw (well a long throw with a very good arm and just the right stone) from Route 66. In fact I am going to get my hair done in a little hairdressers ON Route 66 this morning. What? You thought I was a natural blonde. Oh that is so kind! But no, my blonde needs a little chemical encouragement. My Friend who is a natural blonde says it is blondes like me that give real blondes a bad name. Really!  How unkind!  I have to point out that she would be saying this in her NZ drawl, as she tipped her natural blonde head back, to tip a lively East Coast Sauvignon Blanc down her tipply throat.  I love that girl!

 lasagna!  Take your time. One of the secrets to this recipe is long cooking of the sauce. Then a lovely settling cook in the oven once constructed. So a rainy afternoon is perfect.  The rain is not madatory to the taste but it does help!

1. One large onion, and one small stick of celery sliced and diced and slowly, slowly cooked in butter until transparent. Then add two cloves of garlic finely sliced and toss for about 30 seconds,with a tiny bit more heat, until they are fragrant. 

2. Add one can of dark red kidney beans, washed. Quickly toss about in the onions and garlic. I love a good toss in a recipe don’t you? It is fun to bounce food around in the pan. Remember the three second rule if anything hits your perfectly clean floor!

3. Add two cans of good Italian tomatoes or your blended summer sauce. A couple of fistfuls of basil. And a chilli  to taste(without its seeds unless you are quite, quite crazy). This is not meant to be spicy.   Then cook stirring often for at least an hour and a half. Reducing until it gets thicker.

4. Add one medium sized chopped zucchini. Once the zucchini starts to soften begin to stir and lightly pound with your potato masher. Mash up some of the soft beans and zucchini into the sauce this helps the sauce thicken. Make sure your beans are soft before you play with the masher though.

5. When you are almost done add a jar of tomato conserva or a little tin of tomato paste. Not yet though. Your sauce may catch on the bottom of the pot once you do this so be careful. And half a teaspoon of sugar. I do not know why but the tiny bit sugar has to be in there. It is tradition.  Of course lots of pepper and salt to taste.

While your lovely sauce is simmering after Step 3. Make your pasta.  Zap your little internet wand, click on the word pasta and go over to Bartolini Kitchens and grab his recipe. It is very very simple and very very tasty. You know how I like simple and tasty.  But really I was at the kneading stage is seconds!!  Well, it felt like seconds but you know how time flies when you are having fun.  After your dough has rested, been rolled and cut into sheets and when your sauce is good and saucy. Time to construct your lasagna. 

Now be kind to yourself. If you do not have ricotta, use cottage cheese. If you do not have egg plant use thawed, drained frozen spinach.  If you hate both use mushrooms (pan fried in nothing until moisture evaporates.)  I think I am saying just use whatever veg you have on hand, that you love to eat, that will hold its form but become soft in the cooking.

To construct your lasagna. Spoon a generous layer of sauce into the base of your greased DEEP  dish.  Always start with sauce.  Then a sheet of lasagna pasta.  A layer of sauce, sheet of lasagna, layer of egg-plant (sliced, dried and lightly fried in olive oil, drained) or spinach fresh or frozen. Layer of sauce, sheet of lasagna, layer of ricotta or cottage cheese, layer of sauce, sheet of lasagna,  layer of eggplant, or spinach and then sauce and lasagna until finished. You get the picture. Start with sauce and end with sauce the rest you can make up. Leave enough space at the top so the mixture can bubble in the oven without making another mess! My oven is a fright if I forget.

Grate your fantastic homemade cheddar, or a nice sharp tasty one from the store, mix with a handful of breadcrumbs and pile on top. Make sure the cheese mixture covers your lasagna, think of it as a lid to keep in the moisture!

Pop into a medium oven, and cook for about 30 – 45 minutes or golden brown. Serve with a big herby green salad.

Note: Make more sauce than you think you need because you always need more!  Any leftover sauce goes into the freezer.

Now I had better go and try to drag a brush through my hair before I go to the hairdressers. You know how that is!!


37 Comments on “Route 66 and Lasagne

  1. Thank you for moving that spider photo! Terribly arachnophobic here…

    Great lasagna recipe! Love that you include an eggplant layer. Well, I’m in favor of virtually any dish that eggplant is a part of. Thanks, too, for the shout-out. Being able to make your dough in a food processor really does make the whole process easier. I’m glad you used and liked it.

    • You are welcome, and thank you – it is a worthy pasta!! So sorry about the spider, I told Mandy i would warn her next time, maybe I should warn you too!!

  2. I have to try this the next time a typhoon passes through shanghai and gives me the time. It sounds incredible! I love your humor which kept me reading till the end. You are one gifted writer 🙂

  3. I love a very saucy sauce too and thoroughly approve of the 3 second rule! A lovely read, just need to wait for the rain now….

  4. First off, I think, once, if and or when I get my ‘real’ camera, I am going to have to come and visit so you can teach me a couple of things – you have the coolest stuff around you to photograph! Love old derelict buildings.
    Your family sauce for lasagne sounds awesome!
    Do hope you are going to share a pic of your blondie-locks.
    Have a happy day.
    🙂 Mandy

  5. What a great use for the tomato conserva – I’m about to make a big batch of it this weekend and will file this away once I have more in hand!

  6. Wonderful images, c! So much character in these buildings. The recipe sounds lovely! And you are right, a good sauce just can’t be hurried! 🙂

  7. Exquisite Rte 66 photos! Beautiful color, rich textures, fabulous composition. Delicious enough to keep a food-photo-less recipe in perfect company.

  8. Can I echo the others and say I love those photos too particularly the end of day/early morning ones washed in golden light. Just beautiful 😀

  9. Hi there! What great photos! thanks so much for sharing the lasagna recipe as well. And i know this doesn’t necessarily belong on this post, but, but, but YOU. KEEP BEES!!!!
    *is a tiny bit jealous and more than a tiny bit impressed*
    THAT’S AWESOME!!!!!! So you come live with me for a week and we’ll make sourdough bread, then I’ll come live with you for a week and learn about bees. And then we can both start our individual goat herds/sheep farms and compare notes, okay?

    • well they are only little bees! But I am on for the sour dough bread thingy… am desperately waiting for my culture.. . stay in touch I will be needing some help!I I make bread twice a week but have never done sourdough before!.. c

  10. Sounds so delicious dear Cecilia, I will try to cook your lasagna recipe for this weekend. Especially I liked the sauce and the eggplant… By the way, I hope you are happy now with your hair. Do you know, a few weeks ago I changed my hair colour… It was so gray and white… And yes I have changed at first time in my life… What colour now? I think between brown and chocolate colours… everybody liked it, and they say I am much younger now 🙂 Thank you dear Cecilia, have a nice day, with my love, nia

    • Lovely that you coloured your hair and that you are happy with it. We all need a pick-me-up now and then. Let me know how your lasagne turns out. take care c

    • Thank you. There are a few more goodies from that road trip I might bring out later on. Though I am trying hard to stay in the present! c

      • Is that a challenge?! Cuz I can be pretty good in the kitchen. I’m not all brawn. My family of 8 loves and requests my Italian Meatloaf, I do chili from mild to hot and spicy, my mashed potatoes are infamous. I grill except when teaching my sons. Oooooh, you got me started!!!!

  11. I like the sound of this. I’ve done very little actual cooking whilst being away from home for three months and am quite looking forward to getting back into my kitchen and creating.

    • I used to travel a lot too and am SO enjoying just working on my own little patch and in my own little kitchen! Welcome.. c

  12. Haha! Liked your description of a “stone’s throw.” I have to disagree with your friend on you giving blondes a bad name. 😉

  13. Good morning, c. I’m borrowing the service station photo for a piece I’m writing today. I’ll link back.

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