As many of you know, my gourmet hubby Dean is an amazing cook. He makes the most delicious meals for myself and our four little ones. And, when our babes were infants, I depended a lot on Dean to make dinner while I was busy with feedings and other new mommy responsibilities. And after having five little ones, Dean has become quite the expert on family meal planning. (They don’t call him The Gourmet Dad for nothing!) So today I wanted to share some of Dean’s tips for feeding the family when you’ve have a new baby on board (including his yummy make-ahead lasagna recipe). I’ll let Dean take it from here…
Becoming a parent is one of… well, hey, let’s go ahead and say THE most intense, amazing and overwhelming experience of a lifetime. I’ve had a lot of people ask me lately for some advice on how to transition into this new phase, so I thought I’d put together a list of some of the best tips and advice I’ve heard and learned in my five-time dad experience! We'll cover my first tip in today's post.
Unless your experience is crazy different from everyone else’s, you’ll have a good nine months at least to prepare, so use it well! Throw a potluck party (or a few!) and have everyone bring a freeze-able meal. This way you can stock up on ready-made meals with half the work—and this will really come in handy for those first few months with a new baby. Not having to worry about cooking will save you a ton of stress—and all that time you would’ve spent cooking meals you can now spend with the little one! Here’s a great ready-to-freeze meal idea to get you started — it’s healthy, gourmet and awesome comfort food to boot!
Keep reading for the tasty recipe.
For the ragu:
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 portobello mushroom caps, chopped
1 1/2 pounds shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cans diced tomatoes
3 bay leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
For the lasagna:
3 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated
1 1/2 pounds part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
8 ounces asiago cheese, shredded
2 pounds ricotta cheese
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 pound frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
12 ounces dried lasagna noodles
Ragu: Soak the porcini mushrooms in 1 cup hot water until soft, about 15 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve over a bowl. Chop; reserve the liquid.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot and celery and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and tomato paste and cook, stirring, 2 more minutes. Add the portobello and shiitake mushrooms, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; cook, stirring, until the mushrooms are soft, 5 more minutes.
Add the porcini mushrooms; cook 2 minutes. Add the reserved porcini liquid, bring to a boil and cook until reduced slightly, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juice, 2 cups water and the bay leaves; bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to medium low, add the parsley and 1 teaspoon salt and simmer, stirring a few times, until thick, about 1 hour, 30 minutes. Discard the bay leaves.
Lasagna filling: Mix the Parmesan, mozzarella and asiago; set 1 1/2 cups of the cheese mixture aside. Combine the remaining cheese mixture in a large bowl with the ricotta, eggs, spinach, nutmeg and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook as the label directs. Drain and rinse under cold water; shake off the excess water.
Spread 1 cup of the ragu in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Add a layer of noodles, then half of the spinach mixture and 2 cups ragu. Repeat with another layer of noodles, spinach mixture and ragu. Top with the remaining noodles and ragu and sprinkle with the reserved cheese. Cover with foil, place on a baking sheet and bake 50 minutes. Uncover and bake until golden, about 25 more minutes. Let rest before serving.
- Main Dishes, Pasta