Behind the Dish: Basil Lasagna

Making James Beard’s Basil Lasagna takes, as you might guess, lasagna noodles and basil — more properly, basil in the form of pesto, the sauce made from basil, garlic, pine nuts, parsley, oil and Parmesan cheese. It also, as you might similarly guess, takes some eggs and ricotta cheese, as well as more Parmesan and mozzarella. From there, we build on his recipe a bit. For one thing, it calls for only two layers of lasagna noodles; we’re using four. For another, we’re kicking up the cheese factor by alternating layers of fresh provolone and mozzarella with layers of fresh Parmesan and mozzarella between the noodles and the pesto-ricotta mix. Third, we’re adding just a touch of lemon zest to heighten the flavor. We even drizzled a little Mornay sauce around the edges for a finishing touch. Come in and see what a hint of lemon does for a pesto lasagna!

Yellowtail Snapper with Mango, Rum, Ginger and Macadamia Nuts: a taste of the tropics

JuliaProject926Due to unforeseen circumstances, we didn’t get to blog a “Behind the Dish” post today, but we can tell you now what is IN the dish known as Yellowtail Snapper with Mango, Rum, Ginger and Macadamia Nuts: a feeling that for a little while you can escape from chilly, rainy Cleveland to a warm island in the sun. And there’s more in it than the name indicates.

This dish starts with wild-caught Florida yellowtail snapper fillets, which are sautéed and then dressed with a sauce including chunks of both mango and papaya flavored with rum, mint, ginger and lemongrass, and studded with macadamia nuts. The fish and sauce top a bed of basmati rice flavored with lemon zest and mint. We are serving it with a salad of field greens dressed in a simple vinaigrette.

The verdict? The combination of all these sweet and slightly spicy tropical flavors works magic on the light, flaky moist fish fillets, while the nuts add a perfect meaty crunch. Eat this one and you can close your eyes and forget about the rain and the gloom for a little bit and pretend you’re in the tropics. Yes! Then again, if you missed the Shrimp Étouffée, the Chile Glazed St. Louis Style Ribs or the Chocolate Mousse, you have another chance to enjoy those, too!

Well, we’ve finally come to the last week of the Julia Project, but the fun is far from over. Don’t forget, in the final week we’ll be reprising the most popular dishes of the previous seven weeks of the Project. We’ll let you know what they are ASAP, so keep watching this space! And on October 13 comes the Julia Project Wine Dinner: six courses, a special wine matched with each course, and it’s all Julia. If you haven’t made your reservation yet, what are you waiting for?