Perfect Fall Saturday or Sunday

September 26, 2008

I can think of a long list of lovely things one could do with herself on a fall weekend, such as the one that’s about to begin. Wander around your farmers’ market, which—if you live near me—is about to end for the year (sob!). Head to the nearest pumpkin patch and pick out a couple gourds for your front stoop. Have a picnic, letting rust-colored leaves shower down around you. Watch a football game or seventeen, preferably with a piping hot dish of artichoke dip in front of you and a slowly bubbling pot of chili on the stove. Get up early and take a walk for coffee, bundled in the sweater you haven’t donned since the final bitter days of last winter. Meander through an apple orchard, lazily plucking the fruits from the laden tree limbs.

And all these things are great and all, but have I got an even better weekend plan for you! It involves lasagna, which is just the kind of food—hearty and familiar and flavorful—that these early fall days demand, and this friendly piece of kitchen equipment:

That’s right! The pasta maker is back out. It takes a reverse hibernation, stashed away in the cool cupboards throughout the sweltering summer, while the rest of us are out and about and too busy and too hot to even think of eating, let alone making, homemade pasta. But, once September’s chill arrives, the pasta maker wakes from its summer slumber.

(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)

You may be thinking to yourself: lasagna? Pasta maker? Homemade pasta sheets for lasagna? Is this woman mad? The short answer is yes, of course. But! But it’s SO MUCH FUN. I saw this recipe months and months ago over at 101 Cookbooks and I immediately fell in love with the idea of rolling out my own gossamer pasta sheets, simmering my own marinara and patiently layering every single one of this lasagna’s thousand layers.

And it took the final days of my post-bar exam, pre-law firm life to finally get around to it. And I couldn’t be more pleased that I did. It was the most delicious lasagna I’ve eaten, even if it took quite a bit of patience and covered nearly every inch of my kitchen in flour and marinara. I know you can buy dried lasagna sheets and jarred marinara—not to mention fully assembled, frozen lasagna. But this, this, is a different animal entirely. It’s certainly not a weeknight sort of endeavor, but it’s more than worthy of a fall Saturday or Sunday. So, gather your patience, excavate your pasta roller, ready your cleaning supplies, and give this recipe a go this weekend.

The recipe for Thousand Layer Lasagna at 101 Cookbooks is here. My only change was to include slivered basil in every layer and to not pre/par-boil the pasta sheets.

9 Responses to “Perfect Fall Saturday or Sunday”

  1. diane (mom) Says:

    You know how much I love lasagna,and now I’m excited to try your homemade pasta.The thin crisp pasta sheets look fabulous!Wish I was there to smell and taste.Great job.MOM

  2. Kai Says:

    I think I can smell this cooking already. I am definitely making this on Sunday….I can’t wait!!!!!

  3. Gretchen Says:

    I’m new to the world of food blogs (where have I been?)…but I LOVE this site. Your pics and descriptions are wonderful. I”m going to try this. I make my own pasta (all summer long too!) but by hand – no pasta machine. Not sure I can get the sheets thin enough for lasagna but I’m definatly going to give it a go!

  4. Robin Says:

    Oh, Kristin, you are so guilting me into buying a pasta maker – and I love you for it.

    I can’t wait to spend a weekend making this!

    (And did you start the new job yet? How’s it going!?)

  5. Sara Angel Says:

    you’re amazing.

  6. Michael Says:

    That’s gorgeous. How does not pre-cooking the lasagna change the texture?

  7. mom: We’ll have to try this sometime …

    Kai: I hope you gave it a shot! If so, let us know how it went.

    Gretchen: By hand! Wow. I think that would definitely work, but you’ll probably want to pre-cook the pasta sheets. Welcome to the wonderful world of food blogs, by the way …

    Robin: Are you thinking of doing a KitchenAid attachment? If I had it to do over again, I think that’s the route I’d take. It looks so effortless. And, yes! I started my job last Monday. Lots of training and settling in so far, but this coming week should be more normal, which I’m looking forward to. Thanks for asking!

    Sara: Why, thank you!

    Michael: Thanks! My sheets were so thin that I don’t think they needed to be pre-cooked (and I’m not sure they would’ve survived the experience!). So they instead soaked up the sauce and cooked in the oven. The texture was similar to “normal” lasagna, but the pasta sheets were thinner.

  8. Kai Says:

    I made it this weekend and it turned out FABULOUSLY. I didn’t pre-cook my noodles either and it turned out fine, though the top noodles were a bit too crunchy for my taste, though I think it was more because I forgot to cover my pan with foil during baking. I will definitely be making this again. Thanks so much for the link!!!

  9. Kai: That’s great to hear! The crunch on top is one of my favorite parts. But, as you said, covering while baking is a good idea to prevent it.

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