Comfort food carries with it more emotion than flavor. Homemade mac ‘n cheese transports memories with each fork full of Aunt Rose’s row house in Hudson. Parprikash reminds me of my grandmother (though she rarely made it) telling family secrets to her sister in Hungarian, the smell of cigarette smoke mixing with that of frying onions. And my mother’s lasagna brings back Christmas Eve buffet tables back in Connecticut.
Rarely though can you ever re-create the exact taste and texture that seemed standard when your aunt, grandmother or mother made it. My paprikash lacks the essence of Pall Mall. I recognize this and so I’ve accepted that it’s time to create some comfort food of my own – classics that friends and family will remember and love years from now, dishes that will remind them of good and bad times and the love that fed them.
My comfort food repertoire is small but growing – banana bread, humus, and mediterranean lasagna. Here is my recipe for the latter.
1 medium onion, diced
1 t. salt
2 lb. ground chicken
2 T. fresh mint, finely chopped
1/2 c. fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
8 oz. feta, diced
1 1/2 c. shredded mozzarella plus 1/2 c. for top
3/4 c. tomato sauce plus 2 T. and 1/4 c. or so for top
1 pk. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 lb. lasagna noodles, cooked and drained
- In a large saute pan, heat 2 T. olive oil. Add onion and saute 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in salt and cook an additional 3 minutes or until translucent. Add chicken and cook, stirring so that chicken remains separate.
- When chicken is nearly done, toss in mint, parley and garlic, stir. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and place contents into a large bowl.
- Stir in 3/4 c. sauce, feta, 1 1/2 c. mozzarella and spinach until full combined, set aside.
- Take a lasagna pan and spray with non-stick oil. Spread 2 T. of sauce along bottom of pan and layer with noodles. Add layer of chicken mixture and cover with noodles, repeat until pan is full. (This recipe should make 2 complete layers.)
- Finish with a layer of noodles, remaining sauce and shredded cheese. Cover and refrigerate over night or freeze.
- Cook thawed lasagna at 375 degrees F for 45 to 60 minutes or until heated completely.