Individual Lasagna Packages with Vodka Cream Sauce


The other day, I happened to catch a few minutes of Everyday Italian on the Food Network.  Giada was making some sort of individualized lasagna in a ramekin.  It seemed pretty easy, so I thought I'd add it to our menu.  I had a container of ricotta in the fridge that needed to be used up anyway, and rather than make cannoli, which crossed my mind, I decided that lasagna was a better option.  When I went onto the Food Network website to try and find the recipe Giada was making in that episode, I was unsuccessful.  So, I did a little improv and created my own version!  I topped these with a vodka cream sauce, that I made by merging this Giada recipe with this recipe from The Sisters Cafe.  I also served them along side of our leftover focaccia from Monday night.  These lasagna packages are so elegant looking, yet so easy to make.  I'm very happy with the way that this meal turned out!

For the Lasagna Packages:
8 Lasagna Sheets
1 (15 ounce) container Ricotta Cheese
1 Egg
1/2 tablespoon Olive Oil
Large handful of Baby Spinach
4 ounces Mushrooms, chopped
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, plus more for sprinkling
Mozzarella Cheese
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Sauce of your choice

Cook the lasagna sheets according to package directions then set aside.  In a saute pan, heat oil over medium heat.  Add the mushrooms and cook for about 3 minutes, until they start to soften.  Add the spinach and cook until just wilted.  In a bowl, mix together the ricotta and egg.  Add the spinach and mushrooms, nutmeg, salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese.  Spray 4 ramekins with non-stick cooking spray.  Lay 2 lasagna noodles in each ramekin, placing them in a criss-cross pattern.  Spoon about 1/4 cup of the filling into each ramekin and top with a sprinkling of mozzarella cheese.  Fold in one of the noodles and top with 1/4 cup of the filling and more mozzarella cheese.  Fold in the other noodle and top with a bit more of the filling.  Sprinkle the top with more mozzarella cheese and a bit more Parmesan.  Bake at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until the tops are bubbly and brown.  Allow the ramekins to cool for about 5 minutes, then invert onto a plate.  Top with sauce and serve.

For the Vodka Cream Sauce:

1 quart Marinara Sauce (recipe to follow)
1 cup Vodka
1/2 cup Heavy Cream, at room temperature (I used light cream)
1/2 cup Grated Parmesan

Simmer the tomato sauce and vodka in a heavy large skillet over low heat until the mixture reduces by 1/4, stirring often, about 20 minutes.  Stir in the cream and simmer over low heat until the sauce is heated through.  Stir in the Parmesan cheese until melted and well blended.

For the Marinara Sauce:
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
3 Garlic Cloves, crushed
1/2 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1 tablespoon Tomato Paste
1 (32 ounce) can Crushed Tomatoes
Salt and Pepper
1 teaspoon Dried Italian Seasoning (I used a big pinch each of basil, oregano, and parsley)
1 handful Flat Leaf Parsley, chopped (I omitted)

Add the oil to a medium sized saucepan over medium heat.  Add the garlic and crushed red pepper.  When the pepper snaps and the garlic sizzles, add the tomato paste.  Cook for 1 minute then stir in the crushed tomatoes.  Season the sauce with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning.  Cook for 5 minutes then stir in the parsley, if using.