Mughlai Paratha

IMG_2977Mughlai paratha is a traditional flatbread they serve in Bangladesh. It’s a rich dough, stuffed with eggs, cilantro, onions, chili peppers and sometimes ground chicken. It’s pretty hard to track down a recipe. This post is a culmination of verbal consultation with my mother, taste testing at Bengali fast food joints, and YouTube research. It’s a little bit ridiculous, I know, because it’s not exactly a 30 minute meal. There are several steps, practice and patience required. But I figured with the upcoming holiday weekend, we all might have some extra time to get in the kitchen (it’s cold outside!), roll up our sleeves, and maybe even involve the kiddies (my little ones LOVE getting their hands on the rolling pin and dough whenever they can). Also, there will no doubt be lots of leftovers that would work perfectly as a filling for these guys. IMG_2957This baby has been in the pipeline for a looooooong time. I’ve been meaning to make it for ages. I’ve been experimenting recently, since I’ve been getting to know my rolling pin a bit better (hello, pie season). I’ve tried making it with pizza dough (which was delicious but resembled more of a calzone than a traditional mughlai paratha) and all kinds of ghee to flour ratios and cooking techniques (shallow fry, deep fry). And this is the glorious, delicious result! IMG_2958 Yes, that is my Fresh Tinted Lip Balm on my kitchen counter. Where else would it be? IMG_2968 I would love to add more filling. It would make the paratha even more delicious. But I err on the side of less filling just to avoid leakage and it running all over the pan. You, though, are at liberty to experiment with as much filling as you’d like!IMG_2969For those of you who aren’t familiar with ghee, it’s delicious. It’s butter that’s been melted, milk solids removed. You do that by melting a stick (or two) of butter in a small saucepan, allowing the solids to drop to the bottom, then utilizing the melted fat on top. It’s slightly nutty and has a higher burning temperature than regular butter, which is what makes it so great for this recipe (among others: pancakes, mashed potatoes, and so on). So I hope you guys give this recipe a try! And don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t come out super thin the first time. Practice makes perfect!

P.S. I utilized the leftovers from my last Roast Chicken.

P.P.S. How great is this manicure? It’s not gel and it still looks great 1 week later! Check out Primp and Polish at their pop up shop on Crosby street, right next to Bloomingdales.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tbsps ghee (that’s clarified butter – preferable) or oil plus more for the pan
  • 2 tsps salt
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced
  • 1 green chili or jalapeno, minced (or more if you can handle the heat)
  • a handful of cilantro or parsley, minced (cilantro is preferable)
  • 3/4 cup chicken or 1 chicken breast, diced
  • a pinch of salt

Directions

  1. In a large bowl or stand mixer, combine both flours, ghee or oil, salt and water. Combine with hands or with paddle attachment at low speed until combined. If it looks wet, don’t worry. You’ll be adding more flour when rolling it out. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest while you prepare the other ingredients (20 minutes to 2 hours).
  2. Whisk eggs, onion, green chili or jalapeno, cilantro and chicken together in a separate bowl.
  3. Sprinkle a handful of flour onto a clean surface for rolling out the dough. Grab a handful (baseball size) and roll it around in the flour. Pat with your hand to flatten to a disk. Grab  your rolling pin and aggressively roll back and forth a couple of times. Rotate 90 degrees and repeat. Do this about two more times. Then, get it really, really thin by rolling outwards on all sides. You’re supposed to get it to look like a rectangle but I am hopeless. Thin and oblong is good enough for me!
  4. Warm a tsp of ghee or oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add two tablespoons of the chicken/egg mixture on top of the paratha. Pull the far side towards you, covering the filling halfway. Pull the bottom side up to meet and slightly overlap the first side, like an envelope. Fold over the right and left sides. Ensure the paratha is sealed. Place in hot skillet. Cook for about 3 minutes on each side, adjusting the heat as necessary. Increase cooking time if your paratha is not as thin as it should be.
  5. Serve with a salad, pico de gallo or Sriracha.

 

Roast Chicken and New Potatoes with Herbed Butter

IMG_2954I have an exciting announcement to make! No, I’m not expecting baby number 3 as my mother would so desperately hope for. I am partnering with awesome, organic, halal and quality meat provider Honest Chops! Gone are the days when us strictly zabihah halal eating folks were limited to the options available at our local butchers (God bless them, but good luck if you’re looking for a steak or any other sizable cut of meat). With Honest Chops, not only can you get a great selection of cuts, but you can rest assured the animals are local, were raised humanely without steroids or antibiotics, and are zabihah halal. Some, including the lamb and beef, are even grass fed! YUM! For the next few weeks I’ll be posting a new recipe each week highlighting some of the great cuts of meat they have to offer. I love you guys. I love them. I hope you guys love them as much as I do!IMG_2923 For my first post, I’m offering a turkey alternative for your Thanksgiving spread. I promise, non-turkey poultry is not sacrilege. Plenty of people (ahem, husband) aren’t fond of turkey. Some people do cornish hens, maybe even a large roasted fish (Everybody Loves Raymond, anyone?).  A roast chicken is perfect for a more intimate gathering. The way I do it here, in a cast iron skillet, is wonderfully homey, rustic and easy! No need to get down the giant roasting pan (or purchase one just for this once a year dinner). You just need to ensure your skillet is well seasoned (read: greased). If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, any heavy, large, oven proof pan or casserole will do the trick. IMG_2929 I used an herbed butter to flavor the bird and the surrounding potatoes. It’s got some of the traditional fall flavorings: sage, thyme, orange and lemon zest. But don’t be alarmed by the amount of seasoning – it’s enough for the bird, potatoes, and probably one more roast chicken. You could substitute other root vegetables in lieu or in addition to the potatoes – you just want to ensure it’s cut big enough to withstand the long cooking time. This was a pretty small bird, weighing in at 2.5 lbs. It only took 1 hour at 450 degrees F for the internal temperature at the thigh to reach 165 degrees F. I believe it’s an additional 15 minutes per pound – but your best bet is either a meat thermometer or slicing into the thigh to see if the juices that run are bloody or clear. IMG_2936Just in case you needed a visual for where to place the meat thermometer.IMG_2944 Now there are all these different techniques for ensuring juicy breast meat. Flipping the bird (not that kind!) halfway through the cooking process. Spatchcocking. Dorie Greenspan suggests Joel Rubechon’s technique of cooking the bird on its side, flipping to the other side, then after it’s done, turning it upside down and doing a rain dance (for moisture, of course). Ok, I made up the dance part just to show what lengths some will go to. The fact of the matter is – white meat is white meat. It’s inherently more fibrous than dark meat. But with a bird this size, I doubt you will run into issues with it drying out. I say this after roasting this in one position for the whole time, without any basting. Though, I will say, with the herbed butter spread between the skin and the meat, that ensures a sort of self-basting.  IMG_2952If you don’t have sage, I’d imagine rosemary would work well. Or even tarragon. Something earthy! The last thing you need is some kitchen twine to tie the chicken’s limbs to the body (you don’t want the limbs flapping about, otherwise they’d overcook). With that said – happy eating and start to a holiday season!

Ingredients

  • 1 all-natural whole skin-on chicken 
  • 1 stick of butter, at room temperature
  • 1 orange, zested, cut in quarters
  • 1 lemon, zested, cut in quarters
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or made into a paste by pushing through a microplane, plus the rest of the head of garlic
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped sage leaves
  • 1 tsp finely chopped thyme leaves
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt (I know this sounds like a lot, but you only use a fraction of the herbed butter for the chicken and vegetables) or to taste
  • 1 tsp black pepper or to taste
  • 1 1/2 lbs new potatoes or yukon gold potatoes, rinsed and scrubbed
  • olive oil

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Rinse the chicken, removing any remaining feather shafts that might remain. Remove giblets and neck, setting aside for stock or curry. Set on a large plate or cutting board and pat dry with a paper towel.
  2. Add butter, orange zest, lemon zest, minced garlic or garlic paste, sage, thyme, salt and pepper into a bowl and mix well. Place chicken, breast side up, and rear cavity facing you. Insert fingers between the skin and breast meat to separate (careful not to tear the skin). Add a spoonful of butter and spread throughout the breast, under the skin. Repeat for other breast. Smear more butter over the skin, over breasts, legs, thighs and wings (though don’t butter the back side, the side that will be in direct contact with the skillet). Stuff the cavity with the remaining garlic head (sliced through the middle like this) and however much of the remaining citrus you can fit (giving the fruit a little squeeze before inserting).
  3. Cut two pieces of kitchen twine: one to wrap the legs together, the other to tie the wings to the body (see picture). Wash hands.
  4. Preheat greased skillet over medium high heat for a few minutes. Add chicken, then potatoes around the chicken. Drizzle olive oil or vegetable oil over the chicken and potatoes to ensure the butter doesn’t burn. Use a pastry brush if necessary. Stick into preheated oven and cook for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, depending on the size of your chicken. A meat thermometer inserted into the thigh (see picture) is the best indicator of doneness (reading should be 165 degrees F). Otherwise, cut a slit into the thigh meat to see if the juice is clear or bloody. If bloody, stick back into the oven for 10 to 15 min more.
  5. When done, leave it out to rest for a few minutes to allow the juices to redistribute. Dot the potatoes with the herbed butter and slice in half for serving. You can serve directly on the skillet, or carve on a cutting board like a champ. I am not a champ so most of my chicken pieces were torn off with my hands with a bit of help from my carving knife for ligaments ;)

As a final note – don’t toss those pan drippings! We’re not gravy crazy around here so I made a quick pasta and peas dish. Simply toss the carcass and remove the vegetables from the pan. Warm it over medium high heat. Add half a pound a cup of frozen peas. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add cooked long pasta (half a pound of spaghetti or fettucine). Cook until warmed through. Add a sprinkling of grated parmesan.

Chocolate Pastry Cream (Chocolate Pudding)

IMG_2887 There’s a story behind these plates: we got them for free from our last CB2 purchase. I’m assuming because no one else would buy them. There are like 4 of them, all rectangular appetizer plates with quirky stick figure/food illustrations. This is the first time I busted them out. Somehow the bite taken out of the cream puff worked perfectly with this ugly little dude.IMG_2890 I was inspired to bake these delectable cream puffs after purchasing Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan. There’s so much goodness in this book. I was surprised at how much Moroccan cuisine permeated French food culture (as interpreted by Greenspan). The result is a multitude of really promising mezze/hors d’oeuvres, salads and other veg-centric dishes. IMG_2891The cream puff is made from a standard pate a choux recipe (minus one egg) - serving only as a vehicle for my silky smooth chocolate emulsion. Once I made and chilled the pastry cream, I started it eating it by the spoonful. I couldn’t help myself. That’s when I realized pastry cream is barely different from the more conventional pudding. Not the type of puddings that are thickened by just cornstarch, rather the ones that are thickened (and thus made more rich) by egg yolks. It’s great as a stand alone dessert. I piped these into the cream puffs using a pastry bag fitted with a long tip.

Now I couldn’t just leave well enough alone. It’s not enough to use great quality chocolate and a recipe from a James Beard award winning chef. I had to add a thing or two. In my case it was some instant coffee and vanilla. I added half a teaspoon of each. Next time though, I might try 1 tsp each and see if it accentuates or overwhelms the chocolate flavor. To be continued!

I’ll share one more thing with you: some of them I filled with jaggery (gur), or sap from date palm trees. If you’re South Asian you’ve no doubt seen this sweetener in steamed rice sweets. Or if you’re Muslim, with your pre-dawn Ramadan meal. Think of maple syrup, but thicker and slightly bitter. The flavor is sweet yet complex and pairs surprisingly well with cream puffs! I’ve been adding it to my morning oatmeal for a wonderful change up.

Recipe adapted from Dorie Greenspan.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups milk
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 6 tbsps granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch, sifted
  • pinch of salt
  • 7 oz bittersweet choc melted (I used 4 oz bittersweet choc and 3 oz semi sweet)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp instant coffee granules
  • 2 1/2 tbsps unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, at room temperature

Directions

  1. Warm the milk in small sauce pan until it’s scalding (you see bubbles around the edges).
  2. In a medium saucepan, whisk together egg yolks, sugar, sifted cornstarch, and salt until it’s blended together. While whisking continuously, drizzle in 1/4 cup of the milk (to raise the temperature of the egg yolks). Then, in a steady stream, add the remaining milk and whisk continuously. Multitasking folks. A flat whisk is great in ensuring you get all the bits around the edges. Bring to a boil and whisk for 1-2 minutes more, until thickened (it should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon).
  3. Stir in the melted chocolate, coffee granules and vanilla. Whisk until combined. Let stand for 5 minutes. Then add butter and stir until the mixture is smooth. At this point, I like to push the custard through a strainer to make sure it’s uniform consistency. This is optional. Pour into a bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve (at least 20 minutes).

On Pomegranate

IMG_2876 It’s pomegranate season, y’all! Just kidding. I’ve been watching too much Pioneer Woman.

But seriously, it’s pomegranate season (somewhere in California). Have you noticed them stacked by the entrance at your local grocery store? Have you picked one (or a couple) up and taken them home and painstakingly popped out each seed, only to watch the beautiful mound get depleted in seconds? If you haven’t, then you must. Right now. And don’t give me the excuse that your store doesn’t have them. I would find them at my local Hannaford when I used to live in Nowheresville, NY (aka Poughkeepsie). They seem to come in late September and lasted through the fall. It’s such a refreshing change up in the fall fruit line up from the usual suspects: apples, pears and pumpkins.

I’ve never used them in a recipe – my husband and son usually get to the very last seeds before I could even attempt to put them in anything. They are so delicious – tangy and complex. Usually I’m partial to sweet fruits, but this is an exception. Do you have any favorite recipes? A friend of mine mentioned using pomegranate molasses for a braised lamb or chicken dish (this recipe looks promising). Pomegranate molasses is actually made from reduced pomegranate juice and is apparently more acidic than sweet. I am looking forward to trying it on some of my qurbani meat this weekend. As for the kernels themselves, I’ve seen them used in plenty of salads, over ice cream, and this intriguing recipe I have to try: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/pomegranate-glazed-acorn-squash.html

A word of warning: these babies discolor your cuticles. And not a beautiful ruby stain. An ugly, greenish tint. I don’t know why. So if you’re particular about that stuff, wear gloves.

Fun facts:

  • My grandmother’s helper is a sweet lady named Bedana (a Bengali word for Pomegranate).
  • One of my favorite protagonists of all time is Anarkali (Hindi for Pomegranate), from the movie Mughal E Azam. Based on a true story, Anarkali was a dancer in the Mughal Emperor’s court, who fell in love with the Emperor’s son, Salim. This led to a not-so-great father-son relationship and [SPOILER ALERT] a not-so-favorable outcome for her.
  • The whole beating the pomegranate with a spoon bruises the seeds. I’m not a fan. I am however, a fan of this nifty demo on peeling pomegranate.

 

Double Chocolate Brownies

IMG_2802 Apologies for the month of silence from Kitchen3n. The dog ate my computer. More like the Apple store took my malfunctioning iMac for a week and couldn’t reproduce the problem we are CONSISTENTLY having at home. Does anyone else’s mac do this thing where it just randomly starts producing a lot of noise (like the fans are in hyperdrive) even though there are NO CPU intensive programs running? Then just goes berserk and shuts off? Any ideas would be much appreciated. I just barely got to edit these photos before the issue started up again and am finishing up this post from my laptop.

I realize there is pretty much no more room in the food blogosphere for another brownie recipe. I don’t care. I’m sharing my favorite. Also, because, everyone loves looking at pictures of chocolate desserts.

This is the classic Ghirardelli brownie recipe remixed to my liking. The original recipe (rightly so) had chocolate chips. NECESSARY in any brownie recipe. I added a teaspoon of instant coffee to the melted butter/chocolate mixture. A key ingredient in any luscious chocolate dessert. I also use bittersweet chocolate instead of semi-sweet, for a richer, less sweet brownie. IMG_2808I baked these three different ways:

  1. In a parchment paper lined glass baking dish (square). Baked at 350 for 30 minutes. PERFECTLY FUDGEY CENTERS, SLIGHTLY CAKEY OUTSIDES.
  2. In a parchment paper lined glass baking dish (square). Baked at 350 for 25 minutes. TOO FUDGEY.
  3. In a greased glass baking dish (square). Baked at 350 for 30 minutes. TOO DRY.

There is one more option: unlined baking dish for 25 minutes. I’ll save that for the next rainy day experiment. Serve these babies with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and live your life with no regrets.

Adapted from Ghirardelli.

Ingredients

  • 4 oz. bittersweet baking chocolate (you can use semi sweet if you prefer)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp instant coffee granules
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Heat water in a medium saucepan over low heat. Keep to a simmer. Place a large bowl over the simmering water and melt the chocolate and butter. When it’s just about fully melted, take off the heat and stir until completely melted. Add the coffee granules. Let cool for 10 minutes.
  2. While the chocolate mixture cools, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line an 8×8 glass baking dish with parchment paper.
  3. Next, add the brown sugar to the chocolate mixture and stir with a wooden spoon. Add vanilla extract and eggs, one at a time. Next, add the flour, baking soda and salt. Stir to combine. Finally, add the chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared baking dish.
  4. Bake for 25-30 minutes (the top should look dry). I know I said 30 minutes was good for me, but every oven is calibrated differently, so definitely check at 25 min. The toothpick shouldn’t come out clean, but there should be some crumbs (but not too wet).

Braised Green Beans

IMG_2800 When it comes to vegetables, I find myself oscillating between tradition (oh, hello soggy vegetables swimming in grease and spices) and modernity (steamed, then tossed with garlic infused oil or vinaigrette). Even though I felt pretty good about myself cooking it until just cooked through, and going easy with the fat, I would always second guess myself when I’d go to my mom’s and find myself thoroughly enjoying her sides. Until I recently read about braising vegetables in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The idea is, you combine everything in a pot or saute pan: vegetable, fat, cooking liquid, seasonings, and you cook it through until the liquid evaporates and the veggies just finish cooking in the fat. PERFECT. IMG_2793Once you have the technique down, the possibilities are endless! Of course it takes some trial and error with each vegetable. They vary in cooking times, moisture levels, and sizes (of course it’s up to you how big or small to make your pieces). A few tips to recall are:

  1. Root vegetables take longer to cook. Account for that.
  2. I added a few smashed garlic cloves to the pot. You can feel free to add any seasonings you like with your vegetables: soy sauce, ginger, crushed red pepper flakes, garam masala, lemon zest whatever!
  3. When trimming the beans, take a small paring knife, cut just below the woody stem and pull down along the rib of the bean. That way you take off some of the fibrous part that runs along the middle. You can continue this motion when cutting the beans into thirds.IMG_2797

Slivered almonds also go well green beans. The only words of caution I have are stay away from chicken or vegetable stocks for this dish. The flavors concentrate and it just overpowers the vegetable (speaking from experience). Hope this helps for your upcoming holiday (or weeknight!) cooking.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb green beans, trimmed, cut into thirds
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1/2 tsp salt (plus more to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper (plus more to taste

 Directions

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a large saute pan with a lid. Turn heat up to medium high and cook for about 5 minutes, covered. After 5 minutes, check for seasoning and consistency. If you like your beans with a bite, turn off the heat. If you like them tender (like I do), let it cook for an additional 2 minutes.

Homemade Ricotta (and a lasagna, too!)

IMG_2763Why on earth would you make your own ricotta? Because it’s delicious that’s why! Also, for these reasons:

  • Unlike homemade chicken stock, you don’t need 98765432 ingredients. You need 4.
  • It doesn’t take 3.5 hours. It takes 0.5 (and you don’t even have to stand watch over it for the majority of that time).
  • You don’t need any special ingredients/equipment (screw cheesecloth! I used a papertowel!)
  • It is awesome over toast (or fruit) with a drizzle of honey and slivered almonds (that is, unless almonds trigger your eczema). Breakfast all week!IMG_2739 Use it to kick your lasagna up a notch! The recipe I’ve used all these years advised defrosting frozen spinach, mixing it with some ricotta, eggs, and seasonings and adding it as a single layer. It was my least favorite layer.  IMG_2743So, this time, I heated up minced garlic and oil in a saucepan/wok. I cooked the spinach in it, seasoned it with salt, pepper and nutmeg, then added it to my homemade ricotta, decreasing the ricotta to spinach ratio quite a bit. No egg. It was divine.  IMG_2747 I didn’t think this process through very thoroughly. I boiled all the lasagna sheets. I just kept adding layers while I had stuffing/noodles. The top layer didn’t receive its due (read: I ran out of sauce). I’m sorry top layer. I still loved your nutty, cheesy contribution. And now I have leftover cooked lasagna noodles in my fridge. Roll ups next week? IMG_2752 Another thing to make with your fresh ricotta – lemon (or in my case lime) ricotta cookies! Not pictured: the tangy, sweet glaze that goes atop these lovelies. And hopefully, your baking powder isn’t out of date, like mine was, and yours more resemble fluffy clouds rather than lemon disks. IMG_2753

For the Ricotta (recipe courtesy of Ina Garten – surprise!)

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups cream
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsps white wine vinegar

Directions:

  1. Heat milk, cream and salt in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to a boil.
  2. Turn off the heat, add vinegar, and stir. Let sit 3-4 minutes while mixture curdles.
  3. Place a mesh sieve over a big (preferably deep) and line it with cheesecloth or a paper towel. Carefully pour mixture in and allow the whey to separate from the curds for 20-25 minutes. Voila! You have ricotta cheese.

For the Lasagna (warning: did not measure – approximations below)

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 lb ground beef
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion, diced small
  • 2 carrots, peeled, diced into about 1/4 in pieces
  • 2 celery sticks, chopped small (if you don’t have carrots or celery, don’t let this stop you from making this meat sauce!! use peppers, or more onions if you need to!)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp chili flakes
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomato
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • about 2/3 box lasagna noodles (about 15 sheets)
  • 16 oz frozen spinach
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cup of ricotta cheese
  • about 7-8 oz mozzarella cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly grated parmigiano reggiano (sorry, no shortcuts allowed for this step)

Directions:

  1. For the meat sauce: brown meat in lightly greased skillet or wok over high heat, breaking up the meat and cooking until meat is no longer pink and has a nice crusty exterior. Remove from pan using a slotted spoon. Set aside on a plate. Add a bit more oil, then onions, carrots, and celery. Sauté until translucent (about 5 min). Add garlic, oregano, chili flakes, and about 3/4 tsp each of salt and pepper. Mix to combine. Add crushed tomato, bay leaf, sugar. Stir then cover and reduce heat to low. Let simmer for about 20 min, stirring occasionally. At the end of 20 min, turn off heat and check for seasoning (it should taste GOOD – if not, add 1/4 tsp more salt). Set aside.
  2. In a medium skillet/wok, heat 1 tbsp oil or butter over medium high heat. Add 1 clove of garlic, minced. After about 30 seconds, add frozen spinach. Stir to break down clumps of spinach. Add about 1/2 tsp salt and pepper and 1/4 tsp nutmeg. Cook down until spinach is warmed through and flavorful (4-5 min). Set aside.
  3. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add a tbsp of salt and lasagna noodles and cook according to package directions (6-8 min). Drain, then drizzle with oil to keep from sticking. Set aside.
  4. Assemble the darn thing: preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Add 1/3 of meat sauce to the bottom of a casserole or lasagna dish. Add one layer of lasagna noodles (3 of the traditional barilla noodles). Then add 1/2 of the ricotta/spinach mixture. Top with 3 more noodles. Then add another third of the meat sauce – spreading to distribute evenly.  Top with half of the mozzarella cheese (shredded or sliced). Top with 3 more lasagna noodles. Add remaining spinach/ricotta mixture. Add 3 more noodles. Top with remaining meat sauce. Add 3 final noodles. Top with remaining mozzarella cheese and grated parmesan.
  5. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes. Uncover, then stick back in the oven for 10 more minutes. It should be bubbly and the parmesan should just be starting to brown. Let cool before slicing unless you want messy, gooey pieces like the one pictured here =).