First, I soaked the pasta in hot water. Although I usually cook the noodles, that's time-consuming, plus it's very awkward working with steaming hot, fragile sheets of pasta. I've heard of people just using them as-is, but I didn't want to do that. So I followed a suggestion I saw online, to soak them for awhile in hot water. (If it looks like a lot of pieces are broken, you're right. This box must have been used for a Thanksgiving football game behind Krogers.)
Next I get my cheeses ready. The mozzarella came shredded (Father Z would scoff at this being called mozzarella, and he's right); the parmesan cheese I shredded/sliced myself (in the measuring cup), and the ricotta -- the creamy mixture on the left -- I prepared myself, using store-bought ricotta, and then I added some nutmeg and, because it was a little thick, some cream. Then (after this shot was taken) I saw the recipe called for some egg and parsley. So I added that, plus some of the parmesan cheese. It should work fine.
The other cheeses you see there? They were some I bought to see if I'd like them. One is a pecorino romano, which I normally like, but this block, not so much; and in the smaller bag is some sort of Tuscan parmesan cheese; too mild.
Meanwhile, I get my sauce out and start heating it up. It doesn't need to be hot, but I do want it not so thick when I spread it. It looks delicious, but if I make it again, I will cut down a bit on the meat.
Next I get my pans ready. The recipe says nothing about oiling the pans, but -- better safe than sorry. (I spread the oil around after taking the picture.)
Next I start layering. Every recipe does it differently, and I wonder, does it matter all that much? The only thing I insist on is cheese on top; I don't know why. This time, it was sauce, noodles, ricotta, mozzarella, sauce, a little parmesan, er...well something like that. Here are the finished pans. Both were wrapped in foil, one went into the freezer; the other I'll cook tonight.
Finally, I packed up the remaining sauce for use for other purposes. I misjudged the size of my container, but oh well. And how does it taste? Delicious!
In a few minutes, I head over to shrive the schoolchildren, then back here to get things ready for dinner.
We have confessions -- with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament -- from 6:30 to 8:30 pm, for our high school students. Feel free to stop by!