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Merrill's baby Clara is finally old enough to eat solid foods. Armed with her greenmarket bag, a wooden spoon and a minimal amount of fuss, Merrill steps into the fray.
Today: Lasagna to celebrate Clara's first birthday!
Clara had her first taste of lasagna shortly after Christmas, much to her (and our) delight. She mashed hunks of the tomatoey, cheesy pasta into her mouth, getting nearly as much on the floor as she managed to swallow. I've made lasagna several times since, with equal success -- apparently, she's meat/veggie agnostic.
In fact, Clara enjoys lasagna so much I decided to make it for her first birthday party. We invited her grandparents over to celebrate, and they liked it too. Below is my go-to lasagna recipe, the kind I used to have all the time when I lived in Italy for a semester in college: deeply colored, with no ricotta -- just bolognese, pasta (fresh if you can find it), creamy bechamel and a little mozzarella. Kid-friendly, grandparent-approved.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound ground beef (85% lean)
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
Splash red wine? (optional)
1 1/2 cups canned chopped tomatoes, with their juices
1 cup beef stock or water
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
Pinch freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 package no-boil (or fresh) lasagna sheets
3/4 cup shredded fresh mozzarella
To see the full recipe (and save and print it) here.
Photos by James Ransom
And here are some birthday desserts to go with your lasagna: