Okay, not so top secret. It’s different every time I make it, anyway. Here’s How I did it today.
Big bowl of sauce tomatoes from the garden (“federle” variety, start from Fair Weather Farm, Lebanon, Ore.)
3 stalks celery
1 bulb garlic
1 bunch fresh basil (from Gathering Together Farm, Philomath, Ore., bought at Beaverton Farmers Market)
3 small zucchini (from Dennison Farms, Corvallis, Ore., bought at Beaverton Farmers Market)
2 red bell peppers (Dennison)
Dried herbs: oregano, thyme, basil, tarragon, crushed red peppers (the hot kind)
Salt and pepper
Start a saute with olive oil (don’t be shy, use a little more!), chopped onions, garlic, celery and red pepper. Add salt and pepper, crushed red pepper and dried herbs. I use just a pinch of tarragon, and a good dash or two each of oregano, thyme and basil. Let it cook to bring out the sweetness.
While the saute is working, look in the fridge and add any other veggies you can sneak in (this will all be blended later, so you can do just about anything if you’re trying to sneak it past a picky eater). This being September, I found some zucchini.
Add extra veggies to the saute, and cook some more.
While that’s cooking, start cutting up the tomatoes. If you’re really picky, you can parboil them and peel them, but I’m not picky. I never do this. Just dice them into small enough pieces that the skins don’t get huge and curly in your sauce. Add the tomatoes as they’re chopped, and cook all day.
After simmering all day, chop up the fresh basil and mix it in. Turn off heat and puree with a hand blender.
Then, make lasagna!
Sauce (see above)
1 box no-boil noodles
1 32 oz. container ricotta
Preheat oven to 350. Mix eggs, ricotta and a dash of nutmeg. Ladle a generous layer of sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 pan. Layer with noodles. Space them out and don’t overlap; they’ll expand. Add a layer of the ricotta mixture and another layer of sauce. Add another layer of noodles, then more sauce, and ricotta mixture. Top with grated mozzarella and parmesan. Bake for 45 minutes or until top is browned. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.