Such was the situation yesterday morning: I opened the fridge for the half and half, and eyed the leftover lentils from days gone past, then I remembered that almost full box of gluten free lasagne noodles i noticed in the pantry yesterday, and the huge bunch of arugula I had just harvested from my friend's yard. The cogs started churning. There is something about lentils and pasta noodles that makes my heart happy. Kind of like a happy accident that someone came up with when they had nothing else to eat. A friend served it to me once, and the texture of chewy noodles against the firm lentil morsels and some good parmesan - I was immediately smitten. She is German, so I always think of this as a German dish, and have never bothered to do any research on that. (I suppose I should).
When I picked the arugula the other day I imagined pesto. It's such a great way to preserve flavor and freshness of delicate herbs and greens, freezing into cubes that can be added to simple noodles or more complex dishes like beef stew or short ribs, or tossed with roasted vegetables to add another layer of flavor.
I've never been a lasagne maker, maybe only accomplishing the task a half dozen times in my lifetime. That's practically nothing for an obsessive cook like myself. So the fact that I was inspired in this way was sort of a big deal. I figured if it didn't turn out, no one would be subjected to the disaster except me.
Thankfully I had a small can of tomato sauce in the pantry, which I heated with sauteed garlic and dried Italian herbs from the spice cabinet. A quick pulse in the food processor pulverized the arugula which I then added olive oil, salt, random parmesan cheese bits and half a package of cream cheese. I was pretty much wigging it, but as I said, when the impulse strikes me, my culinary direction is usually pretty solid.
I pulled out my small oblong glass baking dish and gave it a coating of non-stick spray (I use the canola kind but any vegetable spray will do). First I coated the bottom of the dish with a thin layer of the seasoned tomato sauce, then a layer of al dente cooked noodles (the baking will do the rest). I then added a nice thick layer of the arugula/cheese mixture and topped that with more noodles. The lentils came next, a nice layer of those (I was almost to the top of my dish) drizzled a couple of spoons of the tomato sauce over that, then one more layer of noodles, some sauce to top so the noodles won't dry out, then some more grated cheese. About 45 minutes in a 350F oven until the mixture is visibly boiling on the sides, and voila!
It was hard to let rest for 15 minutes to let the cheeses settle, so I busied myself with a glass of wine and what to watch on netflix. I wasn't hard to eat quite a large chunk of this, the nuttiness of the arugula with the nice texture and flavor of the lentils, all brought together by some simple tomato sauce. And as I do with most of my creations, to save myself from the midnight munchies, I portioned the rest and froze them individually in small tubs (I re-use grated parmesan cheese tubs religiously for this function).