My daughter recently had her first communion, and I cannot tell you how excited she was about it. My wife and daughter planned for weeks for the event, and that left me with planning the food and drink for the post communion party. I thought of many things to make, but then decided I would prepare Italian beef a couple of days ahead of time, then use the slow cooker to get it super tender and ready for sandwiches. Let me just say the sandwiches were super delicious, especially on great Italian sub rolls. So as I had made a nice salad, along with homemade breads, and dips, I also made a batch of homemade giardiniera to go along with the Italian beef. As the party ended, I was left with a bunch of the Italian beef, and giardiniera. I was set out to use those leftovers and create something new. Here comes the Italian beef lasagna with a giardiniera topping.
Lasagna in itself is nothing short of amazing, we all know that. But when you throw in some super tender Italian beef, and balance the texture with some nice, crunchy, and spicy giardiniera, well, you have yourself a winner.
Ingredients for the Italian Beef:
- 2 or more pounds of beef sirloin tip, rested for about 20 minutes at room temperature
- 2 tsp dried basil
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp red pepper flakes
- 4 cups of water
Ingredients for Homemade Giardiniera (Make a few days in advance):
Ingredients: (Step One)
- 2 green bell peppers, diced
- 2 red bell peppers, diced
- 1/2 head of cauliflower, small florets
- 6 jalapeno peppers, chopped
- 2 serrano peppers, chopped
- 2 stalks of celery, diced
- 4 Thai chilies, whole
- 2 carrots, diced
- 1 small to medium sized yellow onion, diced
- 4 radishes, quartered
- 1/2 cup of kosher salt
- cold water to cover
To a large bowl, add in all of the above ingredients, covering with water, and making sure to dissolve as much as the salt into the water. Cover, place in the refrigerator and let sit overnight.
The following day, drain and thoroughly rinse the vegetable medley.
Ingredients (Step Two)
- 1 tbsp dried Mexican oregano
- 1 tbsp red pepper flakes
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp course black pepper
- 1 cup of olive oil
- 1 1/2 cup of white vinegar
- 2 tbsp sugar
Begin by adding vinegar to a small pot, and add the sugar to that. Bring to a boil and let cook at a steady boil for a few minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
When the vinegar is completely cooled, add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Add this to your vegetables, and mix well. Add to your canning jars, and let sit for at least 2-3 days before serving.
Ingredients for the Lasagna:
- 12 sheets of your favorite lasagna noodles, good just before al dente
- 32 oz tomato sauce
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
- pinch of red chili flakes
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup of fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
- 3 cups of the cooked Italian beef, rough chop
- 15 oz part skim Ricotta Cheese
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 tbsp fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp dry oregano, crushed between your fingers
- 1 tbsp dry basil
- 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 cups shredded Mozzarella and Provolone cheese
Start by making the sauce. To a large sauce pan, add in the tomato sauce, salt, garlic, pepper, and chili flakes.
Add the Italian beef to the sauce, and give that a good stir. Cover and cook on low for one hour. Towards the end of the cooking process of the sauce, toss in the basil, and give a stir.
While the sauce cooks, cook the noodles as directed on the box, however cook just before al dente. Strain and set aside.
While the pasta cooks, make the ricotta filling. To a mixing bowl, add the ricotta cheese, the egg, parsley, oregano, dry basil, and half of the parmesan cheese. Give that a good stir.
Now the fun stuff, the layering. On the bottom of a lasagna pan, add a nice big ladle of the sauce. Lift and move the sauce on the bottom of the pan to make a nice, even and light coating.
Add your noodles to cover the bottom of the pan, slightly overlapping each sheet.
Spread a nice, light coating of the ricotta cheese.
Sprinkle some of the cheese on top.
Cover with more of the sauce.
Repeat with the lasagna sheets.
Add more ricotta, and add more shredded cheese.
Add more sauce.
Add more pasta sheets.
Add more ricotta cheese.
Add more sauce.
Top with the remaining shredded cheese to completely cover the top. Add some more grated parmesan cheese.
Spray a sheet of aluminum foil with a bit of cooking spray.
Preheat the oven for 350 degrees and cook, covered (cooking spray down on cheese side) for roughly 45-60 minutes. Once you are near done, remove the cover and either place under the broiler for a couple of minutes to get the top layer of cheese nice and bubbly, or continue to cook in the oven, uncovered at 350 degrees for 5-10 minutes.
When the lasagna is finished cooking, remove it from the oven, and let it rest for about 10 minutes. Trust me, it will still be really hot, however the resting allows everything to come together instead of falling apart when you cut into it. Waiting is the tough part, trust me.
Once you are ready, cut a nice big square, and top with a nice dallop of the spicy giardiniera.
At first bite you get everything you expect and want in a lasagna, but then comes that super tender Italian beef, along with the giardiniera that is the perfect pairing as it cuts through some of that richness.
I know it sounds like a lot, but again, this was a perfect recipe to use up the traditional Italian beef and giardiniera. Hope you enjoy.