When I get a hankering for lasagna I can’t just go out and buy some pasta to make it. All the lasagna commercially available is either regular or whole wheat made with dark grained wheat. I like white whole wheat pasta. You get the benefit of the fiber from bran without the heavy, dark, oily texture of dark wheat bran. I can find no companies who make white whole wheat lasagna noodles, so I make my own.
Making pasta is not hard, you just need the proper equipment: a pasta making machine. This little item rolls the pasta dough out into thin sheets to be cut into the required size. You can make lasagna, fettuccine or spaghetti this way. Lasagna noodles can be cut by hand. The other shapes are done with cutters that are included with the machine.
The dough is very simple, just flour, eggs and water. Flavorings and colors can be added with spinach, beet juice, carrots, etc. Once kneaded to the optimal consistency, the dough is rolled through the machine at increasingly narrow settings until the right thickness is achieved.
Fresh dough pasta should be dried before it is cooked. It doesn’t need to be dehydrated like the stuff sold in boxes, but there should be a well-thickened skin. Several hours of drying time are sufficient. A soft interior is fine. When cooking fresh pasta it is important to use a large pot with lots of boiling water to allow plenty of space for movement. Fresh pasta floats when it’s ready and it cooks very quickly. It will puff up some as it cooks, about half-again the size.
This lasagna is adapted from my dear Aunt Iverna Griffin’s recipe. She called it Griffin’s Lasagna. Her secret flavoring ingredient was bacon. Aunt Iverna knew that bacon made everything taste better four decades before it became all the rage.
White Whole Wheat Lasagna
1 lb pasta, cooked
To make fresh pasta:
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1.5 cups all purpose flour
2 large eggs
1/4 cup water
Mix flours, lightly beat eggs. Make a well in the middle of the flour, pour in the egg. Use a fork to work the flour from the edges into the eggs until it is all incorporated. The dough will be thick, add water while kneading, usually 1/4 cup is plenty, to make an elastic, smooth, somewhat firm dough. Run through a pasta machine until the right thickness, cut to size and dry for several hours, turning as needed to dry both sides.
Bring 8 qts water to boil in a large pot. Drop the dried pasta in and cook until it floats and is al dente nearly done, about 5-8 minutes. The noodles should be just slightly under done so that they will finish cooking in the oven.
To make the dish:
Preheat oven to 350F
Use 9″ x 13″ baking pan
32 oz pasta sauce
1 lb cooked hamburger
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 lb sharp cheddar cheese in thin slices
2-3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 lb small curd cottage cheese
1 cup sliced black olives
7-8 slices pre-cooked bacon
Combine 3/4 cup pasta sauce with the cooked hamburger. Mix in 1/2 cup pasta sauce to the cottage cheese. Spread 1/2 cup of pasta sauce on the bottom of the greased pan. Place a singe layer of pasta over the sauce. Spread with 1/2 cup pasta sauce and half the cottage cheese mix. Sprinkle with half the parmesan, some mozzarella, and some black olives. Place another single layer of pasta, cover with 1/2 cup sauce, half the hamburger mix, half the cheddar slices, mozzarella, and some black olives. Continue with the layers, ending with the hamburger layer. Seal the top using any sauce left and sprinkle with mozzarella. Place the bacon strips across the top. Bake for one hour. The choices of substitute and additional fillings are endless. Ricotta cheese instead of cottage, mushrooms are nice as are sliced sweet peppers, pepperoni, sausage bits, or anything else that’s good on pizza.