So there I was… elbow deep in phase 3, perhaps phase 4 of heavy cooking. I’m talking just about the time that the deep, primal, visualizations of a hearty, meaty lasagna slathered with ricotta, parmeson, asiago, and romano cheese, garlic, onion, shrooms, sweet Italian sausage and ground beef begin to meld together with the speecy spices and stimulate the olfactory and gastronomic conscience.
Last week’s dearth of imaginatively prepped food stuffs fomented the beginnings of the urge. I’d put together the list of ingredients I didn’t have on the boat and risked life and limb to visit a grocery store in Poulsbo on my biweekly hunter gathering. Mask on face I scuttled through the store collecting what I needed for the next 10 days. One item, I didn’t have I found in the noodle section: lasagna noodles. They were beautifully wrapped. All the print was in Italian. Even the name of them was something that was so romantically Italian and it screamed out “Pick me! Pick me!” Into the cart with ya mate, and into my noodle cupboard where it nestled quietly and comfortably amongst spaghetti, angel hair, orecchiette, penne, orzo, macaroni and other fine pastas that I use. Phase 4a. Cook 12 lasagna noodles while the meat sauce is melding into the fineness that only hours of simmering can attain. Break out the soup caldron, fill it with 3 quarts of water, throw in a teaspoon of salt and bring it to a boil. I retrieved the package of lasagna noodles from its resting place, placed it on the counter and in eager anticipation slit it open and to my abject horror… this is what I found:
What had looked so like lasagna noodles were in fact not. The edges looked like lasagna, but… but… This is what the imposter actually was:
Well… I’ve been living aboard boats long enough to have had plenty of opportunities to substitute ingredients. This was just an opportunity. What to do… what to do… I cooked the weird noodles and opened up a box of orecchiette and cooked that up as well. Using both types of pasta as the lasagna noodle substitute, I layered the lasagna using the meat sauce, pasta of both types, cheeses, meat sauce, pasta etc. until my damn oval dutch oven was full. I placed it in the oven for the requisite amount of time to meld it all together, served it up and… it was an olfactory and gastronomic delight. It actually was easier to serve up.
Delicious… Can I still call it lasagna… or perhaps Great Northern Pasta Casserole… I kinda like that…