July Food Holidays

Celebrate Lasagna in July--and other food holidays at CHEFScatalog.com

Baseball fan booing the team at CHEFScatalog.com “Don’t worry, the fans don’t start booing until July.”
—Earl Weaver, American professional baseball player and Baseball Hall of Fame inductee

July may be when baseball fans start to boo their teams if they’re not winning, but when it comes to celebrating the many Food Holidays this month, well, there’s nothing to boo about and plenty to cheer for!

Whatever days you choose to celebrate—why not celebrate them all?—you will hit the game-winning, ninth inning, homerun that sends the fans out happy with these recipes.

What holidays can you look forward to when you’re at bat? Here’s a sampling (click on links for recipes):

Happy National Lasagna Day!

Chicago Metallic Lasagna Trio Pan at CHEFScatalog.com But what really has me excited is July 29! What happens on that day? Each year that day is dedicated to eating that most glorious of Italian dishes: Lasagna.

You didn’t know this was a day? I know, me either! I say, what good is a calendar that only lists minor holidays like St. Patrick’s Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas? Why doesn’t National Lasagna Day merit a national holiday? It’s a mystery to me.

But I do want to help you make the most of the day. So here are four of our favorite Lasagna recipes for you to try. Yes, you can make them all to celebrate the day. You have my permission. Can’t decide which one to make? Be brave and make three of them at once, with this cool pan!

Vegetable Lasagna

Hearty vegetable lasagna sure to please with every bite.

Print Vegetable Lasagna recipe on CHEFS Mix Blog at CHEFScatalog.com Ingredients

Basic Tomato Sauce

  • Three 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes, drained
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Béchamel Sauce with Parmesan

  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups milk
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 green bell peppers, thin sliced
  • 2 red bell peppers, thinly sliced
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 16 ounces small mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 16 ounces lasagna noodles, cooked
  • 8 ounces chèvre cheese
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips
  • 2 cups fresh spinach leaves
  • 8 ounces mozzarella, grated

Cooking Instructions

CHEFS Stainless Steel Food Mill at CHEFScatalog.com To make the tomato sauce: Put the tomatoes through a food mill or tomato press. Reserve.

Heat the oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Cook the garlic and pepper flakes for 3 minutes. Stir in the tomato puree. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside, covered.

To make the béchamel sauce: In a 2-quart saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Stir in the flour and cook for 3 minutes. Gradually add the milk, stirring constantly. Increase the heat to medium. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the Parmesan. Set aside, covered.

To make the lasagna: In a large skillet over medium-high heat, sauté the peppers and onions in 2 tablespoons of the oil until cooked through, but not browned. Remove and drain on paper towels. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil to the pan and sauté the mushrooms for 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Emile Henry Classic Lasagna Roasting Pan at CHEFScatalog.com Coat the bottom of a 15″ x 11″ lasagna pan with a small amount of the tomato sauce. Arrange one-third of the lasagna noodles over the sauce. Top the noodles with half of the peppers, onions, and mushrooms. Cover the vegetables with half of the béchamel sauce. Crumble the chèvre on top of the sauce.

Top with half of the basil and spinach. Top with about 1 1/4 cups tomato sauce. Place on another layer of lasagna noodles and repeat the vegetable, béchamel, and spinach-basil layers. Top with a final layer of lasagna noodles.

Spread the remaining tomato sauce over the noodles and top with the mozzarella. Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes. Uncover and bake another 15 minutes, until browned and bubbling. Remove the lasagna from the oven and let it sit for 15 minutes before slicing. Serves 6 to 8.

Smoked Tomato Lasagna

Hearty sausage lasagna infused with a rustic, smoky tomato flavor.

Print Smoked Tomato Lasagna recipe on CHEFS Mix Blog at CHEFScatalog.com Ingredients

  • 2 pounds plum tomatoes, cored and cut in half lengthwise
  • One 14-ounce can tomato purée or sauce
  • 1 cup béchamel sauce
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds cremini mushrooms, stems removed, sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 2 pounds ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 pounds Italian sausage, cut into 1/4″ thick slices
  • 10 to 12 ounces no-boil lasagna noodles
  • 8 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded

Cooking Instructions

Stovetop Smoker on CHEFS Mix Blog at CHEFScatalog.com Preheat the oven to 375 F. Lightly butter an 11″ by 15″ lasagna pan.

Using a stove-top smoker and following the manufacturer’s instructions, smoke the tomatoes, cut side up and lightly salted, for 20 minutes. Let cool, and peel the skins from the tomatoes.

Place the skinned tomatoes in a large bowl and, using an immersion blender, purée the tomatoes. Stir in the canned tomato purée and béchamel and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Breville Control Grip Immersion Blender at CHEFScatalog.com Warm the butter and oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the mushrooms, salt generously, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the moisture has evaporated and the mushrooms have lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, basil, and eggs. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spread 1-1/2 cups of the smoked tomato sauce mixture in the bottom of the pan. Layer 1/3 of the noodles, 1-1/2 cups sauce, 1/2 the mushrooms, 1/2 the sausage, 1/2 the ricotta mixture. Repeat the layering, ending with the remaining sauce. Sprinkle the top with the shredded mozzarella.

Cover tightly with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until the cheese is golden brown and bubbling, about 30 minutes more. It may be necessary to increase the oven temperature to 450 F to brown the cheese.

Let stand for 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Serves 12 to 16.

Mario Batali’s Neapolitan Lasagna

Neapolitans are more dramatic than the Bolognese, a characteristic evident even in their lasagna.

Print Mario Batali's Neapolitan Lasagna recipe on CHEFS Mix Blog at CHEFScatalog.com Ingredients

Lasagna

  • basic pasta dough
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Ragu Napolitano
  • 3 cups ricotta
  • Polpette, cut in half
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella, shredded

Basic Pasta Dough

  • 7 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
  • 5 large eggs

Ragu Napolitano

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 ounces veal, cut into chunks
  • 8 ounces boneless beef chuck, cut into chunks
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup dry red wine
  • Two 28-ounce cans plum tomatoes with their contents passed through a food mill
  • 8 ounces sweet Italian sausages
  • pinch, hot red pepper flakes

Polpette (Italian Meatballs)

  • 3 cups day old bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1-1/4 pounds ground beef
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Cooking Instructions

Atlas Marcato Pasta Machine at CHEFScatalog.com To assemble the lasagna: Divide the pasta dough into 3 portions. Roll each one out through the thinnest setting on a pasta machine and lay the sheets on a lightly floured work surface to dry for 10 minutes.

Cut the pasta into 10-inch x 5-inch strips and cover with a damp kitchen towel.

Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot, and add 2 tablespoons salt. Set up an ice bath next to the stovetop, and add the oil. Cook the noodles, 6 to 7 at a time, in the boiling water until tender, about 1 minute. Transfer to the ice bath to cool, then lay out on clean kitchen towels to drain.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Assemble the lasagna in a 10-inch x 20-inch lasagna pan (or use two 9-inch x 12-inch pans): Spread 1/2 cup ragu over the bottom of the dish, then top with a layer of pasta, a layer of ricotta, a layer of polpette and sausage, and a layer of Parmigiano and mozzarella.

Continue until you have at least 3 layers, finishing with cheese.

Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the edges are bubbling. Let rest for 15 minutes before serving.

CHEFS Size-Marked Pastry Board at CHEFScatalog.com To make the pasta: Mound the flour in the center of a large wooden board. Make a well in the center of the flour and add the eggs. Using a fork beat the eggs together and then begin to incorporate the flour, starting with the inner rim of the well.

As you expand the well, keep pushing the flour up to retain the well shape (don’t worry if it looks messy). When half of the flour is incorporated, the dough will begin to come together. Start kneading the dough, using primarily the palms of your hands.

Once the dough is a cohesive mass, set the dough aside and scrape up and discard any dried bits of dough.

Lightly flour the board and continue kneading for 10 minutes, dusting the board with additional flour as necessary. The dough should be elastic and a little sticky. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and allow to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature before using.

Tramontina Gourmet Enameled Cast Iron Covered Dutch Oven at CHEFS Mix Blog on CHEFScatalog.com To make the ragu: In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat until smoking. Season the veal and beef with salt and pepper to taste, and sear, in batches to avoid overcrowding the pot, until dark golden brown. Transfer to a plate.

Add the onion to the pot and sauté, scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to loosen any brown bits, until golden brown and very soft, about 10 minutes. Add the wine, browned meat chunks, tomatoes, sausages, and red pepper flakes and bring just to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally and skimming off the fat as necessary, for 2-1/2 to 3 hours.

Remove from the heat, remove the meat and sausages, and set aside. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.

To make the polpette (meatballs): In a shallow bowl, soak the bread cubes in water to cover for 20 minutes. Drain the bread cubes and squeeze out the excess moisture.

Lodge Logic Two Handle Cast Iron Skillet at CHEFScatalog.com In a large bowl, combine the bread, beef, eggs, garlic, pecorino, parsley, pine nuts, salt, and pepper and mix with your hands just until blended. With wet hands, form the mixture into 12 to 15 large meatballs.

In a heavy-bottomed skillet, heat the olive oil over high heat until almost smoking. Add the meatballs, working in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding the pan, and cook, turning occasionally, until deep golden brown on all sides, about 10 minutes per batch. Remove from the heat. Makes 10 servings.

Traditional Lasagna

There isn’t anything wrong with ‘traditional,’ and plenty that’s right!

Print Traditional Lasagna recipe on CHEFS Mix Blog at CHEFScatalog.com Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 package spicy or sweet Italian sausage
  • 2-1/2 cups fresh spinach
  • 3 cups mozzarella cheese
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 16 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 12 lasagna noodles
  • 2 jars Spicy Red Pepper sauce “Classico”

Cooking Instructions

Staub Enameled Cast Iron Skillet at CHEFScatalog.com Preheat oven to 375 F.

In a medium size skillet, brown ground beef.

In separate skillet, brown Italian sausage (the sausage cooks more quickly than the beef). Drain excess grease out of both and combine.

In large pot, pour in both jars of sauce. Pour all meat into sauce and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes so flavors combine well.

In a separate pot, cook pasta noodles (follow package directions). Set aside and let cool.

CHEFS Deep Lasagna Pan at CHEFScatalog.com In medium size bowl combine: eggs, ricotta cheese, 2 cups mozzarella, and Italian seasoning. Set aside.

In your lasagna dish, pour 1/2 cup pasta sauce on the bottom surface of the dish and spread so that there are no dry spots on the bottom of your pan. Spread 3 to 4 noodles across dish. Cover noodles with sauce and meat mixture. Place spinach over sauce.

Next, use a spoon to place 3 to 4 spoonfuls of cheese mixture along each row of noodles. Cover cheese with noodles. Repeat process until the 12 noodles have all been used. When the last layer is complete, you can finish by placing the remaining 1 cup mozzarella over the top.

Place foil over casserole dish and place in oven for 40 minutes. When only five minutes remain, remove foil and sprinkle parmesan cheese over mozzarella. Return lasagna dish into oven without foil and cook for the remaining 5 minutes.

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