If you don’t feel like making fresh cheese, a small container of ricotta is fine.
Making the Cheese
I made paneer (Indian fresh cheese) the night before using this recipe.
You can watch a woman named Manjula making it on YouTube, but she makes a larger recipe here. It can help to see it done, though.
1 qt whole milk (Try to avoid ultra-pasteurized. It works, but it doesn’t curdle quite as enthusiastically.)
3+ Tbsp lime juice (Unlike Manjula, I do not cut it with water.)
Boil the milk, stirring frequently to make sure it doesn’t scorch. Just when it comes to a boil, turn the heat off and pour in the lime juice, stirring while you do so. Stir as it curdles, then let it sit until it’s cool enough to not burn your hands.
Line a strainer with muslin, and pour the curdled milk into the strainer. Save the liquid runoff (greenish whey) if you want; it can be used to make more paneer in the future if you like. (If you have a lot of it, like it you used a gallon of milk or something, you can also make ricotta with it.) Let it drip a bit, then run some water over the curds to wash the lime flavor off of them so the resulting cheese tastes like cheese and not sour milk. Pull it up into a ball in the muslin and squeeze hard; let it drain and drip in a safe place for two hours or so (I hung it off the faucet and let it drip into the kitchen sink), then take the wrapped bundle of cheese and squash it under a weight for a bit in the fridge.
A quart of milk will give you about a cup of cheese.
Let it sit in a ziploc overnight in the fridge. Cut it into small cubes, like 1/2″ size, before using.
Making the Gravy/Sauce:
We call it gravy; white people call it sauce. 🙂
1 Tbsp olive oil
Some chopped parsley, maybe 1/8 cup
4 good-sized garlic cloves, minced
a red bell pepper, cut into short strips
1 Tbsp of red pepper flakes (to taste, I like hot food)
1 28oz can of whole tomatoes, no added salt
1/2 c cashews (rinse to remove salt if you like; otherwise the salt on the cashews is all the salt the recipe really needs)
1/2 large or 1 small ripe avocado
In a saucepan that can accommodate all of these ingredients, saute the olive oil, parsley, garlic, bell pepper, and pepper flakes for a bit, until the bell pepper strips get a little tender. (This is pretty forgiving recipe, so don’t angst over getting it exactly right.)
When this is done, add the can of tomatoes, the cashews, and the avocado to the saucepan and mush it all up with a wand blender until it’s a good, smooth consistency. It won’t be perfectly smooth, but pretty good. You’ll have to smoosh the tomatoes individually at first under the bell of the blender — and be careful not to splatter.
Simmer the resulting gravy for a bit, maybe five-ten minutes. BTW, cover the pot when you do this ask me how I know.
This is a good gravy to have on hand, just a jar of it in the fridge. It is heaven on Earth with gnocchi and great over focaccia as an impromptu pizza, so feel free to make more than you need and just save it in a jar.
Cooking the Meat
Bake a decent-sized boneless chicken breast and shred it with a knife and fork. Get some small frozen scallops, not the big ones.
Assembling the Lasagne
Boil 9 lasagne noodles.
Get a 9×13 pan, put some gravy in the bottom, and put 3 noodles along the bottom. Add some gravy, half the shredded chicken, half of the cubed paneer, and … uh, some scallops.
Spoon more gravy over it, and add another layer of noodles. (You’ll have to eyeball the gravy while you do this since you don’t want to run low too soon.)
Repeat with some more gravy, and the rest of the chicken, scallops, and paneer.
Spoon more gravy over this, then another three noodles.
Spoon the rest of the gravy over it.
Cover with foil. This keeps the top of the lasagne from drying out and turning into inedible leather, so don’t forget to do it.
Bake for … an hour? … at 350-375, something like that.
This freezes pretty well. Using a spatula, cut it into serving-sized pieces and place them into little containers, then put the containers in the freezer. When you get home at night, boom — pop one into the microwave, and instant dinner.