So, they say that cooking at home, from scratch is less expensive than going out or eating pre-made meals. Usually this theory seems pretty accurate but as I paid for groceries last night, I began to seriously question it’s validity, at least as a hard and fast rule. $78 was the total for my purchase of groceries for the lasagna dinner I had planned. This included lasagna made from scratch, pre-made garlic bread ( I made my own for a while but, honestly, when you are spending 2 hours on the main course, it is worth it to just be able to stick it in the oven and relax with a glass of wine) and Caesar Salad made from scratch. This DID NOT INCLUDE WINE!
After getting over the sticker shock, I went over my purchases and found the culprits, cheese (never cheap if you get the good stuff) and San Marzano canned tomatoes. They were about $7 for a 28 oz can and I got 3 of them. Later, back in the kitchen, I tasted the plain tomato puree before I added it to the onion, garlic and crushed tomatoes that I has simmering on the stove and I realized why they cost $7! I could have eaten that puree plain, with a big spoon! It was so sweet and tomatoey and tasted of sun. If it costs $7 to bottle sunshine, sign me up!
I loosely followed Giada’s recipe but I made some of my own changes. I simplified the sauce by just using the canned San Marzanos, half of one large onion, 4 garlic cloves, red pepper flakes and the addition of fresh basil just before taking it off the heat. I omitted the carrot and celery in Giada’s recipe and combined the tomato sauce with about half a cup of bechamel rather than the 1 1/2 cups called for in the recipe. I think it made it taste much more fresh clean.
Instead of frozen spinach, I used fresh which I wilted with a little bit of oil and squeezed the moisture out of. It tasted much sweeter and less bitter.
To the ricotta and egg mixture I also added fresh parsley which kicked it up quite a bit.
All in all, it was delicious and now we have 6 more meals…so really, our lasagna dinner only cost $9.50 per person…actually a pretty good deal when you think about it 🙂