20 December 2011

My Version of Thousand Layer Lasagna with Garlic Bread Baked in Parchment

Thousand Layer Lasagna with Garlic Bread Baked in Parchment

As Heidi says, "Imagine dozens and dozens of whisper-thin sheets of fresh pasta brushed with the most vibrant red tomato sauce imaginable sandwiched between layer after layer of warm, oozy, fresh mozzarella. Where the sauce and cheese and pasta touch the pan in the corners, everything gets crunchy and caramelized." This is definitely the best lasagna I have made lately and I hope that sometime over the holidays when you have had your fill of turkey and all the trimmings you will give it a shot. I will even fight you for a corner piece, but not before I wish you a Merry Christmas!

For many of us one of the very first blogs we ever came across in our wanderlust years was 101 Cookbooks by Heidi Swanson. In fact one of the very first recipes I ever came across back in 2006 (when my own blog began) was for her Thousand Layer Lasagna. So why has it taken me all of these years to turn this out in my own kitchen here at More Than Burnt Toast. I would have to say I have no excuse at all. It is easy to prepare and in my humble opinion arguably the best lasagna to ever grace this kitchen.

You could certainly make your own fresh pasta but store bought pasta sheets rolled out whisper thin are a quicker alternative and require less commitment, patience and time. You shave a few hours off the procedure if you purchase storebought lasagna sheets. Mine came from my local Italian grocers which in truth gave me the idea to recreate this lasagna after all these years! Make sure the pasta sheets you buy are fresh and moist. You still need to run those fresh lasagna sheets through a pasta machine a few times to achieve the thinnest and most delicate sheets possible, but, if you don't have a pasta machine (they are actually quite affordable!), try a rolling pin. It is not quite the same, but will thin out the sheets somewhat. Using fresh pasta sheets also enables you to skip the pre-boil step in the original recipe altogether. Just add a "tad" more sauce to the layers.

Part of the magic comes from the baklava-like layering of the sheets and partly from using Marcella Hazan's Infamous Tomato Sauce to keep it all moist and flavourful. For the sauce itself its very simplicity holds the secret. It has 3 ingredients, and requires no preparation so lock your knives in the kitchen cupboards! Add garlic, and Italian oregano, if you are so inclined (for this lasagna I would highly recommend it). This is a show-stopping, voluptuous sauce that has us all drooling at the mere mention of its name. The sauce bubbles away and the butter separates and creates pockets of flavour. The butter bolsters the sweetness of the tomatoes and balances their acidic edges, while the halved onion simmering slowly in the sauce, lends a subtle, savoury note. The onion is meant to be discarded but my adopted imaginary nonna cooking alongside me wouldn't allow it and true to my imaginary Italian roots no ingredient shall be wasted, so, I enjoyed it's buttery mouthwatering lusciousness chopped up in my lasagna. 

Add additional layers of buffalo mozzarella, a blend of shredded provolone and mozzarella, fresh basil leaves for a little added flavour or even some Parmesan if you like for a sumptuous lasagna that is sure to please your guests. Like the bubbling pot of well-balanced sauce the aromas coming from the kitchen teased and tantalized and I was not disappointed! I served this lasagna with a tossed salad and garlic bread baked in parchment paper, a recipe from Jamie Oliver below.

**Thousand Layer Lasagna **
heavily based on a recipe from 101 Cookbooks
  • 1 pound fresh egg pasta sheets (or make some from scratch)
  • butter to prep baking dish
  • 1 recipe Marcella Hazans Infamous Tomato Sauce
  • 3 (4-ounce) balls of fresh Buffalo mozzarella, torn up into pieces
  • a large handful of basil leaves
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded mozzarella and provolone
  • freshly grated Parmesan (optional)
Preheat your oven to 375F.

Make your sauce.

Lavishly butter a deep, square baking dish. The one I use is 9x9 and 2 1/2-inches deep.

Thin out your pasta using a pasta machine. Start by cutting the big sheets into 2-inch(ish) wide ribbons. This means making 2 cuts along the sheets. This should yield you about 12 2-foot strips. Run them through the pasta machine. I go to the 8 setting, one shy of the very thinnest setting. The sheets should almost be translucent. Cut the strips into manageable rectangles roughly 4-inches in length.

Pull it all together. Ladle a bit of the sauce into the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Cover the bottom with a layer of pasta sheets. Now a thin layer of sauce, fresh basil and a bit of cheese. Go for another layer of pasta, then sauce, then cheese...and so on.  Alternate cheese layers by using buffalo mozzarella and shredded cheeses. Keep going until you have used up all the sauce and pasta. You want to finish with a layer of pasta. Top with the last of the sauce and the very last of the cheese so you have a nice cheesy top.

Bake until everything is melted and fragrant, 35 minutes or so. Let it sit for 10 minutes before serving, so everything has a chance to set up a bit. Dust with parmesan and a bit of basil.

Garlic Bread Baked in Parchment

**Garlic Bread Baked in Parchment**

Here’s another easy recipe from Jamie Oliver’s 30-minute meals. This one is quick to assemble and quite forgiving in terms of timings (the ‘water on the wrapping’ technique ensures the bread does not dry out)....which means you can afford to be a little forgetful about it once in the oven.

Slice a large ciabatta lengthwise, making sure you do not go all the way through the bottom crust! Now cut crosswise at 3 cm intervals...again, making sure you don’t go all the way through. Scrunch up a large piece of greaseproof paper under the tap and then lay flat on your counter. Place your ciabatta on the paper. Sprinkle a small bunch of finely chopped parsley all over the ciabatta (including under). Drizzle olive oil over (and inside) the ciabatta. Scatter 3-4 finely chopped garlic cloves between the slices. Season with sea salt and pepper. Seal up the package quite well and place in a hot oven 350F.

The ciabatta should be ready in about 20 minutes. You can probably delay taking it out of the oven for another 20 minutes by reducing the temperature down to 300F -keeping the bread warm and toasty.

Serves 6.

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison. Best Blogger Tips


  1. Beautiful and so mouthwatering! I bet it tastes just divine.



  2. Everything sounds good..Lasagna is one of my all time favorite foods~I am curious about the bread.. under the tap w/ water running we put the paper?Am I getting it:)

    Thank you!

  3. Lasagna is a nice change of pace after turkey,ham and the trimmings on Christmas day. I'm intrigued by Jamie Oliver's garlic bread recipe and think it sounds perfect with your pasta dish. Happiest holiday best wishes to you and your family, Val.

  4. Parchment paper is pretty resiliant. You soak it under running water from the tap and squeeze it out. Then wrap your bread creating a seal-proof pouch.

  5. using parchment paper is an excellent idea! never heard of that but so glad you shared it.
    and yes, I've heard marcella's sauce is that good.

  6. Save some for me, I'll be right over. This sounds a-m-a-z-i-n-g!
    Have a great holiday!

  7. No turkey at my place this year; so this recipe sounds pretty good. I used to have fun making my own pasta, but my arms are not too good anymore, but we have an Italian bakery that sells fresh pasta(not quite as thin as what I used to make: but still very nice.
    Merry Christmas to you and your family. Enjoy!

  8. I can smell the delicious aroma that must have wafted from your oven in preparing this!!

    Sending you good wishes for a Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy year ahead.


  9. Lasagne is always a crowd pleaser, isn't it? And this one looks delicious. I haven't made one for ages. Jamie's bread looks great too - different too with that paper business ... will give it a try - thank you, Val!

  10. I've always wanted to make this but just didn't have the patience to roll it! I'm getting a pasta attachment for my stand mixer for Christmas so this is DEFINITELY happening. Thanks for the reminder, val!

  11. This looks sooo good. I think lasagne is one of my favourite meals. But fresh pasta and the Marcella Hazan tomato sauce recipe would take it to a whole other level.

  12. They look amazing!
    Love your blog!
    Nice finding you!
    Visit me at my-greek-cooking.blogspot.com

  13. Whisper thin lasagna sheets sound heavenly.

  14. Deeeeee-lish!

  15. While I won't deviate from my family's (considerably more labor-inducing) lasagna recipe, I definitely have this marked for a winter weekend meal - the idea of whispery-thin lasagna sheets just entices me - this sounds so much lighter than my usual heavy dish.

  16. I could just eat your beautiful photo! This looks like a dish to die for.

    We often have lasagna or baked ziti at Christmas, particularly if we have non-meat eaters at the table. It always gets gobbled up - and I'm wishing I were gobbling this one!

  17. The lasagna looks heavenly. I do hope you plan on sharing with Presto Pasta Nights. It's not too early to join in for the Jan 6th - first of 2012!

  18. Definitely saving this one to try in 2012! I'm salivating just thinking about it.

  19. Heidi's blog was my second food blog I discovered. I remember writing a long email to her and getting a nice reply back encouraging me to start a blog. I remember the lasagna post and knew immediately where the idea came from. And, to top it off, I make Marcella's tomato onion butter sauce all the time. Looks like we've been touched in the same way by some great people. Merry Christmas. I hope you enjoyed every bite.

  20. Sold. I'm totally making this when my in-laws come to town next week. I know my father-in-law tolerates my vegetarian cooking and is very gracious about it, but I know he wonders if he will get enough to eat (he always does, of course). I love the idea of making something that leaves no doubt! Of course Heidi's site is a true favorite of mine as well. Thanks for reminding me of this recipe. And very merry Christmas to you and your family too!


  21. Mmm! What a meal! It's funny, but we're foregoing the turkey this Christmas and making an Italian feast ... stuffed mushrooms, penne with peas and roasted peppers in cream sauce, meatballs braised in Savoy cabbage, and a simple salad ... your Ciabatta garlic bread will accompany! Biscotti and Pignoli cookies for dessert with dark coffee. Wine all around ...

    Merry Christmas, Val!

  22. this is precisely how i like my lasagna--lots of layers, nothing too fancy, plenty of sauce and cheese. nice one!

  23. Oh my Val, two recipes that I have to try. I have never made my bread in parchemin paper. Can't wait to try.

    Merry Christmas!

  24. omg love the sound of thousand layer lasagne! haha somehow i envisioned this massive stack of lasagne towering over me ;) merry xmas!

  25. I especially love that you're using fresh pasta and Hazan's tomato sauce recipe in this lasagna. I can almost tast it.
    All the best to you and yours for a wonderful holiday season.

  26. I'm drooling over all of this. Never thought of the bread in parchment and will be trying that. Merry Christmas to you and yours, Val!

  27. Beautiful as well as mouthwatering val. I love all of the layers of goodness.

    Happy holidays to you and your family.

  28. 1000 layers? I am sure I could only eat 999! GREG

  29. What a beautiful holiday post - love the ornament, Val. Merry Christmas! There is definitely magic in the air! Best wishes for a prosperous and dream filled 2012!
    I really value your work.

  30. Hi Val - ooh, both recipes sounds fabulous, and by trusted sources to boot.
    I stopped by to wish you a very Merry Christmas, so these recipes are just a bonus. Thank you.
    Best wishes for a wonderful New Year.

  31. Garlic bread in parchment - so intriguing. A beautiful Med spread, Val. Merry Christmas!


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