Citizens, I, the Incomprable One – YOUR TFD! – just had a divine thought manifest itself within Me: I want to end our COVID-19 pantry recipe series with lasagna, the most crowd-pleasing of pastas! Not only does it serve a lot of people, but it is easily made with ingredients you assuredly have in your pantry already and freezes exceptionally well.
However, being that TFD walks his own stately path on the royal road of gastronomy, I give you not any mere pedestrian lasagna – no, I give you Pasticho Venezolano! This is lasagna as made in Venezuela, home to a very large community descended from Italian immigrants and a delicious new take on the classic!
Pasticho (Pasticho Venezolano) is the Venezuelan version of lasagna, as previously noted. Venezuela actually follows Italy’s lead in its love for pasta and is in fact the second-highest country for pasta consumption worldwide! It’s ‘basically’ lasagna, but when this dish arrived in Venezuela thanks to Italian immigration, its name changed. After the Second World War many Italians emigrated and came to Venezuela, many businesses were created including Italian restaurants.
Venezuelan cuisine is influenced by its European (Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and French), West African, and Native American traditions. Venezuelan cuisine varies greatly from one region to another. Food staples include corn, rice, plantains, yams, beans and several meats. Potatoes, tomatoes, onions, eggplants, squashes, spinach and zucchini are also common sides in the Venezuelan diet.
As noted on the excellent food site thespruceeats.com:
Venezuelan food is melting pot of European cuisine (especially Italian, Spanish, and French), African cuisine, and traditional dishes from indigenous cultures. Within the country there is a lot of culinary diversity as well.
Along the coastline, fish, shellfish, fish soups, fish stews, and dishes with coconut are abundant. In the mountainous regions of the Andes, the food is quite different. Whereas arepas are traditionally made with cornmeal everywhere else in Venezuela, in the Andes they are made with wheat. Also common in the Andes are cured meats and sausages and freshwater trout from the many Andean lakes and streams.
There are a couple of key differences to distinguish Venezuelan lasagna from the Italian version. Instead of ricotta cheese, the pasta is covered with a creamy béchamel sauce. The tomato meat sauce is also uniquely seasoned with both soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce as well as a hint of cilantro. It also includes ham slices between the layers of pasta, adding even more meaty savoriness to the final dish!
This is indeed a recognizable lasagna in the classic motif, but with some surprising and delicious new accent flavors. One seasoning that really adds a latin flavor to the dish is Adobo – if you don’t have it, you can purchase it here or simply leave it out, though I dearly enjoy it with.
, I truly hope you enjoy this delicious fusion of South American and Italian taste sensibilities – consider enjoying it with a tropical drink from Venzuela’s neighbor, Colombia!
Battle on – the GeneralissimoPrint
- Meat Sauce:
- 1 lb. Ground Beef
- ½ Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
- ½ Tbsp. Soy Sauce
- ½ Tbsp. Adobo seasoning (optional but strongly recommended)
- 1 Tbsp. Butter
- 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
- 1 Onion, chopped
- 3 Garlic Cloves, minced
- 1 28 oz can peeled tomatoes
- 2 Tbsp. Red Wine
- 1 tsp. kosher Salt
- ½ Teaspoon Pepper
- 1 tsp. dried Oregano
- 1 Tbsp. minced Cilantro
- 6 oz. can tomato paste
- Beef stock or chicken stock (beef stock strongly preferred)
- 1 tsp. minced fresh Basil (preferred) or 1 tsp. dried basil
- 1 Bay leaf
- Bechamel Sauce:
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- 4 ½ cups whole milk
- salt and pepper to taste
- ¼ teaspoon freshy-grated nutmeg
- ½ cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 bay leaf
- For assembling:
- 1 pound dried lasagna noodles
- 10 ounces Mozzarella cheese divided
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese divided
- ¼ pound sliced Virginia ham
- Spice the ground beef with the Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, and adobo. Set aside.
- Add the butter and olive oil in a pan and heat it up just a bit until butter is melted. Then add the onion and garlic,and cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes.
- On a separate pan begin to brown the ground beef. Remember to drain the excess oil when done.
- Blend the tomatoes using a blender or food processor.
- Add the tomatoes, wine, salt, pepper, oregano, and finely-chopped cilantro to the onions and garlic.
- Combine the meat with the tomato mixture.
- Add the tomato paste (diluted in chicken or beef stock instead of water as directed on the can), and then add the basil and bay leaf as well.
- Continue to cook at low heat, covered, for a while until the sauce reduces and thickens. If it is too dry, you can add more tomato paste, but don’t add water or the sauce will be too thin.
- Béchamel Sauce
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add lasagna noodles and cook until almost al dente, nearly tender. They will cook further in the oven. Drain.
- In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium low heat. Once melted, whisk in flour until golden and bubbling. Increase heat to medium. Slowly whisk in milk and continue to stir until thickened. Add bay leaf. Season with salt, pepper, nutmeg, and parmesan. Remove from heat once smooth and discard bay leaf.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cover the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish with a thin layer of the béchamel sauce. Top with a layer of the lasagna noodles. Spread with a layer of ⅓ of the meat sauce.
- Cover with a second layer of pasta. Spread about 1 cup of the béchamel sauce over the pasta, top with ham slices in a single layer, then top with ⅓ of the Mozzarella cheese, and 2 Tbsp. of the Parmesan.
- Cover with another ⅓ of the meat sauce, then 1 cup of the béchamel sauce, more ham, ⅓ of the Mozzarella, and 2 Tbsp. parmesan. Add remaining meat sauce and final layer of pasta. Cover with remaining béchamel sauce, then remaining ham, Mozzarella and Parmesan.
- Cover baking dish with foil and bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until cheese is bubbly and beginning to turn golden, 10-15 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
Citizens, please note that I can no longer afford to absorb the nearly $1000 per month it costs to keep the site running smoothly, including marketing expenses, etc.
You can make a difference!
Please consider making a one-time donation to help keep the site live and the posts coming – click here to PayPal Me a tip!
You can also show your support by listening to our podcasts, liking them, and sharing as you see fit – try them out here.