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Italian Sausage and Roasted Pepper Lasagna

Yesterday, I was feeling overly ambitious. I decided to finally bust out the pasta  machine that has been collecting dust on my kitchen shelf  for years and make Lasagna.  How did that turn out?  Frustrating is an understatement! The pasta machine and I had a minor altercation.  Let's just say, I actually uttered the words " I want to punch that thing in the face! "

Well, it all turned out in the end. While I finished making the two sauces, my husband very sweetly rolled out the  pasta sheets with a rolling pin. I have never made pasta with a food processor before, and I will definitely be doing that again. Who knew it is so easy to whip up a batch of fresh pasta? I think I might make ravioli or tortellini next time.

Fresh Egg Pasta Dough
( adapted from Williams- Sonoma "Pasta")

2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
4 large eggs
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp salt

Fit a food processor with the metal blade. Add 2 cups of flour. Crack the eggs, one at a time in a small bowl, check for shell before adding to flour. Add oil and salt. Process the mixture until flour is moistened and crumbly, this will take about 10 seconds. If dough seems excessively sticky,  add some of the reserved flour.Dust a clean surface with flour. Lightly knead dough, pushing  the ball away from you. Lift it from the far side with your fingers, fold it back toward you, then rotate dough a quarter turn. Stop kneading dough when it feels damp without being sticky and is an even yellow.Shape the dough into a ball. Cover the ball with an over -turned bowl and let rest for 30 minutes.

Bolognese Sauce

1/2 lb. Hot Italian sausage
1/2 lb. lean ground beef
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large carrot
1 yellow onion
1 rib celery
6 cloves garlic, minced
splash of  dry red wine
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 19 oz can tomato sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp dried oregano
1 1/2 Tbsp. dried basil ( use fresh basil if you have it, just use more and add it to the sauce at the end of the cooking process)
Pinch of brown sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream or half and half
salt and freshly ground pepper

In a food processor, add carrot, celery and onion. Pulse together until very finely chopped. In a large, heavy bottom pot, heat olive oil over med-low heat. Add carrot, celery and onion. Cook, stirring constantly until caramelized, about 20 minutes. Don't  let mixture burn. Add sausage and ground beef to same pot. Brown meat really well. Add a few splashes of red wine. Add minced garlic, dried oregano and basil to pan. Cook for one minute. Season well with salt and pepper. Add crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, sugar, and cream. Let simmer for one hour over low heat, stirring occasionally.
Cheese Sauce
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
4 cups milk
salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups grated cheese ( I used a cheese blend of Parmesan, Gruyere, Mozzarella, Provolone)
freshly grated nutmeg ( optional )

In a medium size pan, melt butter over moderate heat. Stir in flour, let roux cook for 2 minutes. Whisk in milk. Let mixture thicken. Over low heat whisk in cheese, stirring constantly. Season with salt and pepper and nutmeg.  Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, cook sheets of pasta in a large pot of  salted , boiling water, a few sheets at a time for one minute. Dust the flour off the pasta before dropping in water. Drain, then lay flat on a lightly greased cookie sheet.

Preheat oven to 375*F. In a 13x9 inch pan, spray with cooking spray. Ladle a small amount to meat sauce on bottom. Top with a layer of pasta, meat sauce,  a layer of  roasted bell peppers, Cheese sauce, pasta, roasted peppers etc. You should have three layers of  pasta, top with meat sauce and cheese sauce. Sprinkle a little extra cheese over the top. Spray a sheet of aluminum foil with cooking spray. Wrap tightly. Cook on middle rack of oven for 20 minutes, then remove aluminum foil and cook another 20 minutes. Turn heat up to high and broil for 1 to 2 minutes, watching closely as  not to burn. Remove from oven and let stand for a few minutes before serving.  *You might not need  to use all of the meat sauce.

Tags: Homemade Pasta, Lasagna, Italian Sausage

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