Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Baked Lasagna with Cream Cheese Filling

This recipe is a popular one in my family.  Baked Lasagna! No one can go wrong with that right! I deviate from the regular Ricotta..  The filling of choice consists of cream cheese instead of the norm.  I follow the same suit as  would using the Ricotta, seasoning it with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, spinach and a hint of nutmeg.
 Nutmeg compliments spinach and cheese very well, and was considered one of the most prized spices during the 17th century, which led to many conquests and takeovers of regions to control this mysterious spice of the West Indies.
The initial caloric content of this dish may vary by the choice of cream cheese you make.  All in all, the cheese swap is a memorable one and worth trying .  The creaminess and the ability to take on the flavors of other ingredients, make it a wonderful substitution for the more costly Ricotta.
1 1/2 lb. ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
1 carrot, grated
1/2 c.diced celery
4 c. spaghetti sauce
sugar to taste, optional
1 lb. lasagna noodles, UN-cooked
4 c. Italian blend or mozzarella cheese
For cheese filling:
2 pkg. cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 c. grated Parmiggiano Reggiano or Parmesan cheese
2 c. fresh spinach
1 egg
pinch of nutmeg
Olive oil for drizzling
Preheat oven to 375*F.
In heavy bottomed pot, brown ground beef with onion, garlic, carrot and celery, breaking the beef down as it cooks.  Once browned, add spaghetti sauce, sugar to taste and simmer for about 20 minutes for flavors to marry.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine cheeses, spinach, egg, nutmeg and SPST until well blended.
Assemble as you would normally, layering the filling twice throughout.  cover tightly with foil, and bake until pasts has absorbed the juices and is tender, about 1 hour.
Remove foil and add more cheese to slightly brown the top.
Let stand for about 15 minutes before cutting.
Makes 12+ servings.

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