When you really want a food that you haven't had in a long time, it's a powerful force. Here in my home region of the Southern United States, there's a way to phrase such a longing. For instance, I've recently had a strong desire for lasagne. So in the appropriate company I might say, "I done had a cravin' flung on me for some lasagne." (To all of my readers: please note that I don't normally talk like this. Only while inebriated and around a BBQ grill, smoker, or on a camping trip. My everyday speaking voice is neutral Midwestern.)
Of course, around here we mostly spell it lasagna, but four semesters of Italian have a stronger impact on my orthography. Lasange is quite popular here in the Mid-South, and it was certainly a staple item on my childhood dinner table. It's certainly the easiest Italian casserole out there; one of my favorite Italian dishes is crespelle, but it's hard to build enough enthusiasm to make crepes after getting home from work. My Mom always used the same recipe: lots of onion, ground beef, ricotta, mozzarella, and plenty of tomato sauce.
I was in the mood for comfort food. We had a recent ice storm here in Memphis, and I've been really wanting some hearty casserole dishes. So it was chicken thighs in savory sauce and green beans over the weekend, and I had to have some lasagne tonight. So I used a similar method to my Mom's but some alternate ingredients. I used ground turkey instead of beef; it's lighter yet still provides the texture and protein. I added in a ton of leaf spinach to the two eggs and 15 oz. of ricotta cheese. And I used two different tomato sauces: a mushroom one and a garden one. I think the added veggies help.
Though I've made lasagne many times in my life, this was my first attempt at making one without boiling the noodles first. You just layer the noodles as you normally would, but cover the dish with tight aluminum foil before baking. The result: fantastic. The noodles were perfectly al dente, and it was a hell of a lot easier to build the thing using dry noodles. And I've got leftovers for the next few days.
Oh, and the wine?
So last Friday during my wine-buying excursion I picked up a bottle of the 2003 Catello Banfi Centine. It's a red "Super Tuscan" made of 60% Sangiovese, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 20% Merlot. While cooler this drinks like a Merlot, but once it comes up to temperature the Sangiovese really shines through. There's not a lot on the nose, but a slurping sip reveals some black cherry flavors and some medium tannins. It's hard to describe, but it smells like an Italian red and tastes like an Italian red, but doesn't have the heavy tannic bite and strong aftertaste of similar young Italian reds.
At this point, I've just enjoyed my second helping of lasagne and am in heaven. The wine is matching perfectly. I'm now ready to crawl into bed and call in sick for the next two days so that I can curl up next to my dogs and sleep all day.