Homemade Gluten-Free Lactose-Free Lasagna Pt.2
With leaves falling, temperatures dropping, and memories of summer fading into autumn, my deep craving for comfort food - specifically lasagna - was growing fast. Having developed my fresh gluten-free pasta recipe last week, I was one step closer to filling my deep craving for a good, hearty homemade gluten-free and lactose-free lasagna.
Step One: Gather and Prepare Ingredients
What makes this recipe lactose and gluten free is the use of lactose free milk to make homemade ricotta, and the use of my gluten-free pasta recipe. Due to an enzymatic process that occurs during the aging process, parmegiano reggiano is naturally lactose free - I used standard parmegiano reggiano for this recipe with no ill effects or symptoms experienced. If needed for peace of mind, there are clearly labelled “lactose free” options available.
2 carrots, finely chopped (approx. 1 cup)
3 celery stalks, finely chopped (appox. 1 cup)
1 large onion diced (approx. 3 1/2 cups)
1/3 cup of sage, minced
1/3 cup of parsely, minced
¼ lb of pancetta, finely diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 lb. of ground pork*
1lb. of ground beef
3 anchovy fillets, minced (approx. 1 tbsp)
6 roma tomatos, halved and seeded
⅓ cup of parmesan, finely grated
2 cups low-salt chicken stock
*I choose to grind my own meat, however for this recipe you can use freshly ground meat from your butcher, or pre-ground meat from your supermarket depending on your personal preference.
1 ½ cups quinoa flour
½ cup tapioca starch
1 tsp. xanthan gum
Lactose Free Ricotta Mixture:
2 ½ cups lactose free milk
¾ tsp citric acid
¼ cup parsley, minced
salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp margarine
2 tsp gluten free flour (we used chick pea flour, but quinoa flour works just as well)
2 cloves garlic, grated or finely minced
Step Two: The Sauce
Preheat your oven to 280 degrees Farenheit. Toss the halved tomatoes in 2 tbsp of olive oil along with a pinch of salt and pepper. Place the tomato halves face-down on a baking sheet and place on the middle rack of the oven. Bake for twenty minutes, or until skins crack and blister. Remove from oven, and set aside to cool.
While tomatoes are roasting, heat 3 tbsp of olive oil in a deep pan on medium-high heat, just until it begins to shimmer. I used a deep fry pan, but a dutch oven would work just as well. Add the ground meat and season with a 1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper. Cook for about seven minutes, until the meat is no longer pink. The goal here is to cook, not brown, the meat. Once cooked through, remove meat from pot and set aside, leaving all drippings in the pan.
Add 1 tbsp of butter - feel free to use more if needed - and add the pancetta to pan, again making sure that you are cooking the meat rather than browning it. Once pancetta is cooked through (approx. 7 minutes), stir in onions, garlic, carrots and celery and cook until softened.
Once the vegetables have softened, stir in the anchovy fillets and increase the heat to medium-high. Add two cups of red wine and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated (about 10 minutes).
By this time, your tomatoes should be done in the oven, and cooled enough to peel - simply slide the skins off and stir into sauce, cook for two minutes gently stirring and breaking up.
At this point, I like to give my sauce a quick zip with an immersion blender to give it a smoother texture, while leave a couple small chunks for texture. If you prefer a chunkier sauce, feel free to skip this step.
Reincorporate the cooked pork and beef, add 2 cups of chicken stock, 1 cup of milk, and another 1/2 cup of red wine. Reduce the meat to medium, season with 3/4 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp of black pepper and stir. Let the entire mixture simmer for 3 or 4 hours at reduced heat, stirring occasionally. Cook until almost all liquid has evaporated.
At this point, I prepared the remaining components of my lasagna, and prepared my fresh gluten-free pasta. Once the sauce has simmered and thickened, finish by adding remaining 1 cup of milk, parmigiano reggiano, 1 tsp of fish sauce, and parsley. Increase heat, and simmer until thickened, approximately 15 minutes.
Step Three: The Ricotta
For this recipe, I opted to make my own lactose-free ricotta as I greatly prefer the flavour and texture. If you can find a lactose-free ricotta at your local supermarket, it can substituted for this recipe depending on your preferences.
Heat milk in a sauce pan over medium-low heat, stirring regularly to make sure that the milk does not scald. Bring milk to 180 degrees, add the citric acid and stir once. Remove the mixture from heat and let sit for 15 minutes - separation will be clearly visible. Strain through cheese cloth set in a fine mesh strainer, and let drain 10 minutes. Set aside until lasagna is ready to assemble.
Step Four: The Bechamel
Melt 2 tsp of margarine in a pot, then add 2 tsp of your chosen gluten-free flour (we used chickpea flour, but feel free to experiment with your favorite). Add 2 cloves of grated garlic, stirring constantly. Keep stirring as you then add 2 cups of milk.
For this recipe, I used the fresh gluten-free pasta recipe I developed last week - unlike dried, boxed pasta from the supermarket, this fresh pasta will cook very, very quickly - each of my sheets was finished within 90 seconds.
Pre-pare and cook your pasta, drain carefully, and set-aside.
Step Six: Constructing the Lasagna
By this point your sauce should be thickened, your ricotta should be drained, your bechemel prepared and your fresh pasta made and cooked - it’s time to get everything together into its final form!
To prepare the ricotta mixture, add minced parseley to your lactose free ricotta along with 2 eggs, salt and pepper. Mix well until all ingredients are fully incorporated.
Spread 1 cup of bechamel in the bottom of a lasagna pan, and top with 1 cup of your sauce. Layer lasagna noodles over the sauce. Repeat previous layer of bechamel and sauce, topping with 1/2 cup of the riccotta mixture and 1/4 cup of parmigiano, again layering noodles over top. Repeat this layering process (bechamel, sauce, ricotta mixture, parmigiano and noodles) for your final layer, and top with remaining sauce and parmigiano. Bake at 350 degree for 45 minutes, or until top layers and edges begin to crip.
The Final Result?
Although skeptical when beginning this project, I’ve determined that a homemade, hearty gluten-free and lactose-free lasagna isn’t only possible - it's delicious! My final product was a hearty, rich lasagna full of flavour. With my deep craving satisfied, I couldn’t be happier!