NOT LONG ago I was forced to cook an entire meal in a wok and a 4-quart pot: There were no other pots or pan available. Well of course, I wasn't forced: I could have gone out to dinner, or opened some cans. But I've heard so many people lately saying they could't live without their woks when they come home late from work and have to prepare dinner, I wondered if I could put something together, not necessarily Chinese, that did't use the wok as it was inteded, as a untensil for stir-fry or for steaming.
Was it also possible to turn a dish that required long-simmering into a quickly cooked meal that tasted good?
Often when I don't have a specific recipe in mind, as I make my way up and down the grocery store aisles, I revert to what I know best -- Italian cooking. Ricotta was on my mind because I had recently purchased an excellent brand. Ricotta means lasagna to me, even though it may mean stuffed shells or tortellini to others. Since there was a pot in which to cook the lasagna, it might be possible to prepare the sauce and then use the wok to compose the lasagna.
Even though I had to drain the lasagna, using the wok steamer (there was no strainer), and spoon much of the sauce out of the wok in order to layer the lasagna and cheese, it worked. While the mozzarella was not browned, simply melted by putting the cover on the wok, it really tasted good and the whole meal was done in 30 minutes. There was enough for four, so the leftovers were reheated the next day, in the same wok, and tasted even better.
You don't need a wok to make lasagna: you can do it in any skillet with a cover. MENU Lasagna Greens with Basil Dressing
Shopping List: 1 box lasagna, 2 zucchini, 28-ounce can tomato puree, 1/2 pound ground beef; 12 ounces ricotta, 3 ounces parmesan; 1/4 pound mozzarella, 1 head soft lettuce.
Staples: onion, garlic, oregano, thyme, olive oil, basil, white wine vinegar. LASAGNA (4 servings) 6 lasagna noodles 1/2 pound ground beef 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped 1 large clove garlic, minced or pressed 2 medium zucchini, sliced 1 can (28 ounces) tomato puree 1 teaspoon thyme 3 ounces parmesan cheese, coarsely grated 1/4 pound mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced 12 ounces ricotta cheese Salt and pepper to taste
Bring hot water to boil in covered pot. Cook lasgna in water until tender, about 12 minutes.Meanwhile, saute beef in wok or skillet. Add onion and garlic and cook until onion is soft.
Add zucchini and cook until zucchini begins to take on color, a few minutes.
Add puree, oregano, thyme and salt and peper to taste.
About 7 minutes before serving time, remove half of sauce from wok, leaving a thick layer in the bottom. Lay on three lasagna strips, side by side. Spoon on half of ricotta, half of mozzarella and half of parmeasan. Top with remaining lasagna and remaining sauce. Top with cheeses. Cover and cook over medium heat until mozzarrella is melted. Cut and serve in wedges.
If this salad is to serve four, just double ingredients. GREENS WITH BASIL DRESSING (2 servings) 1 head Boston lettuce, or 2 heads bibb or limestone lettuce 3 tablespoons olive oil 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar* 1 tablespoon fresh basil leaves, shredded, or 1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves
Tear lettuce leaves apart. Beat oil with vinegar and basil. Pour over lettuce and serve.
*if you are lucky enough to have basil vinegar you can substitute it for the wine vinegar and the basil.
Game Plan: Bring hot water to boil in covered pot. Brown meat in skillet. Chop onions and mince garlic. Add to browned meat. Cut up zucchini. Add to skillet. Grate parmesan. Slice mozzarella. Add puree and seasonings to skillet. Drain lasagna. Wash and tear lettuce. Mix salad dressing ingredients. Layer lasagna and finish cooking.