Tuesday, July 7, 2009

We Want Food - Cold tuna lasagna?

I would say I eat lasagna about every three years or so. It's time consuming to make. It's heavy. It involves lots of things that Daniel doesn't eat.

However, when I encountered a cold tuna lasagna salad combo in Everyday with Rachel Ray, I decided to give it a try. It seemed seasonal and refreshing. When I went back and read the recipe though, I wasn't so intrigued with the red pepper puree that was intended to replace the tomato sauce in traditional lasagna. So I did some searching and found a red pepper pesto from Food and Wine posted on Serious Eats.

As I started compiling the ingredients, I have to admit my skepticism grew. Was it going to be good? Would cold lasagna noodles (especially of the whole wheat variety that I had selected) actually taste good, or would these sheets of gluteny goodness lose their usual appeal and become sticky slimy slugs?

Sure the arugula looked fresh and appealing...

And the red pepper pesto (to which I added red pepper flakes) smelled heavenly...

But as I stacked the layers...

And the pasta mound grew...

So did my doubts...

However, when we finally sat down and began our meal, Daniel and I were all smiles. The recipe is below. It's one I'll make again. (And I highly recommend topping the cold leftovers with a little hummus.) As RR would say, Yum-O!

Red Pepper Pesto Tuna Arugula Lasagna Salad Extravaganza
(Based on Rachel Ray's Tuna Salad Lasagna Stack and Food and Wine's Red Pepper Pesto)

For the pesto
3 medium red bell peppers
1 tablespoon pine nuts
1 small garlic clove, smashed
1/4 cup basil leaves, plus 2 tablespoons chopped basil
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup shaved pecorino cheese
red pepper flakes to taste

For the lasagna
1 lb lasagna noodles (I used whole wheat)
three 6-oz cans tuna packed in water, drained
3 T Olive oil plus 1 T olive oil
2 T fresh lemon juice
2 T balsamic vinegar
3 C torn arugula
salt and pepper
red pepper flakes to taste
handful of chopped basil

1. Roast the red peppers over a gas flame or under the broiler, turning occasionally, until charred all over. Transfer the peppers to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let cool. Peel, core, and chop the peppers.
In a small skillet, toast the pine nuts over moderate heat until golden, about four minutes. Let cool.
Transfer the peppers and the pine nuts to a blender. Add the garlic and whole basil leaves and blend until coarsely chopped. Add the olive oil and puree to a chunky pesto. Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.
4. Grease a baking sheet with 1 T olive oil. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the lasagna noodles until al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water. Arrange in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet to prevent sticking.
5. In a medium bowl, combine the tuna, lemon juice, 3 T olive oil, balsamic vinegar; season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.
6. Place a layer of lasagna noodles in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Top with 1/3 of tuna mixture, 1/3 of arugula and 1/4 of pesto. Repeat 2 more times, using remaining tuna mixture and arugula and topping with the remaining noodles. Divide lasagna into 6 portions. Top with remaining pesto and chopped basil.