Like many of you, I adore a good plate of lasagna. It’s a beautifully textured comfort food and just plain tastes good. Unlike many of you, the thrill of a steaming tray of lasagna being pulled from the oven is NOT a childhood memory for me. Growing up on Betty Crocker casserole recipes in a waspy household, I did not discover the joys of this layered pasta dish until well into my 20’s. Once I had my first forkful, however, there was no turning back.
The way it ooozed creamy ricotta was positively hedonistic! And then there was that melted layer of mozzarella that lay over the top like a lead canopy, rivulets of melted fat drizzling over the pungent marinara sauce that enveloped it all. And holding the fortress together was PASTA in long starchy ribbons that buttressed every layer of meat or cheese, as the case may be. Since it was labor-intensive, some of my favorites were the frozen varieties during my eating days. And since there was never enough of a cheese canopy for my liking, I always made sure to have an auxiliary bag of shredded mozz at the ready.
Ahhh the days of numbing my feelings with food. How I don’t miss them. Yeah the stuff tasted good. But it kept me in an existential coma: one that included rock-bottom energy levels and moods that vacillated between momentary highs from the food and a baseline miserable irritability that everyone around me had to live with.
Those days are gone, and so is my affiliation with traditional lasagna. I’ve cleaned up both my coping mechanisms and list of ingredients considerably. Including the employment of eggplant slices instead of gluten-free pasta. Be my guest if you prefer the pasta but I conserve carbs wherever and whenever I can.
Like the original version, this lasagna is labor-intensive, but oh-so-worth-it! As Chef Bill and I crafted this one evening, it just seemed to lend itself to creamy white Bianca, which, in Italian cuisine parlance, simply means omitting the marinara and letting the cheese shine on its own. There are three kinds here: Chevre (soft goat) in place of ricotta; shredded Manchego (filling in for the mozzarella); and Peccorino (a dead-ringer for Parmesan).
This particular version is for 1 or 2, and fits nicely in a bread loaf pan. After you do a test run and it turns out the whole family likes it, by all means, double it and expand it out to its rightful home – a great big lasagna tray, as my friend who was raised in Little Italy used to say.