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Birthday Lasagna

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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's birthday lasagna  

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.

Clara's birthday lasagna

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.

Birthday Lasagna

Birthday Lasagna

Serves 6


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:

Lemon Birthday Cake  Chocolate Dump-It Cake  One-Ingredient Ice Cream

Lemon Birthday Cake

Chocolate Dump-It Cake

One-Ingredient Ice Cream

Automagic Spring Menu Maker!
Automagic Spring Menu Maker!

Tags: Birthday, Weeknight Cooking, Amanda & Merrill, Kids, Everyday Cooking