Lovely River, then Delicious Dinner

comments: 21

Anniversaryriver2This is kind of what I imagined Oregon to look like before I moved here. That's Andy, in his orange swim trunks. He spent a good chunk of the late afternoon sitting on his floaty raft, paddling around. I laid in the shade and read, and took deep soul-searching woodsy breaths, inhaling that soft, soft pine-needle smell of the forest. I have rarely been in the forest since my accident, and although as a child I hated the forced marches our father took us on in our neighborhood forest preserve, as an adult, living in Montana and Oregon, I realize that I do love the huge, quiet pine-treed woods (so often to be found within city limits here) and do not get to them near enough. If I could manage to set up camp like Amy does, I would live there, I think. How in the hell and the hootenanny she managed to get a full-size bed into the tent I really don't know but . . . is that allowed? Wow. This changes everything.

Anniversaryriver_1 We left the river around 5:30 and made it home an hour later to start dinner; I thought eating by candlelight might be nice. I made something that we call "Lasagna Rozale," named after the apartment building where we lived when we were engaged in Missoula, and where we first made this. From the February 1996 issue of Martha Stewart Living, these lasagnas are not smothered in red sauce (which I personally can't stand) the way so many seem to be; they are layered with bechamel and an only vaguely tomatoe-y sort of Bolognese sauce.

Anniversarydinner4Though the recipe originally called for polenta "noodles," dried porcini, and veal, we modified things to be much more Orange-Street-Food-Farm (our very small neighborhood grocery store) friendly, using regular noodles, button mushrooms, and Italian sausage. Nevertheless, it is our hands-down all-time-favorite romantic meal. I thank you all quite sincerely for the kind anniversary wishes you left for us yesterday. I share this recipe with best wishes for many happy years and romantic dinners of your own.

Lasagnas Rozale
Serves 2

For the sauce:
8 oz. mushrooms, chopped
2 t. olive oil
2 t. butter
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
3 oz. lean ground beef
3 oz. ground pork
3 oz. Italian sausage
Salt and pepper
1/2 c. red wine
12 oz. chopped tomatoes (boxed or canned)
2 c. chicken stock
1/4 t. nutmeg

For the bechamel sauce:
2 T. butter
2 T. flour
1 c. plus 3 tablespoons milk
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. nutmeg

Other ingredients:
6 lasagna noodles
10 oz. frozen spinach, thawed and drained
3/4 c. freshly grated Parmesan

Anniversarydinner_1 To make the sauce:
1. In large skillet, heat olive oil and butter over medium-low heat. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are soft and have let off their liquid, about 5 minutes. Add carrot, celery, onion, and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent, 3 to 4 more minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in separate skillet, break up and brown all meats over high heat, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Add 1/2 t. salt and 1/8 t. pepper. Drain off fat and add meats to skillet containing vegetables; mix everything together. Add wine and cook until liquid has evaporated, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, stock, and nutmeg. Lower heat to medium low and slowly simmer, stirring occasionally, about 35 minutes. Much of the liquid will evaporate but sauce will remain very moist. It can be made 2 days in advance and stored in refrigerator. You will have extra sauce after lasagnas are assembled to use over pasta, etc., for lunch the next day, too.

To make the bechamel:
1. In a saucepan, melt 2 T. butter over medium-low heat. Add flour and cook, stirring frequently, 5 to 6 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring milk and salt to a boil. Slowly whisk the milk into the flour mixture until completely incorporated and smooth. Add the nutmeg and reduce heat to low; simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Anniversarydinner2_2 To assemble the lasagna:
1. Boil lasagna noodles in large pot of salted water until about a minute before you normally like them to come out. Drain and rinse with cold water, then cut (shorten) to fit two 12-ounce individual ovenproof casserole dishes.
2. Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat; add spinach and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until wilted and tender. Remove from heat and drain in a colander. Set aside.
3. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spread 5 T. meat sauce into each of the casserole dishes. Cover with 1 lasagna noodle and spread 5 T. meat sauce evenly over. Spread 2 T. bechamel over the meat sauce and evenly distribute 2 T. chopped spinach over the bechamel. Sprinkle with Parmesan and cover with 1 lasagna noodle. Repeat layering process. Spread 1 heaping tablespoon of Parmesan and dot with butter.
4. Bake until tops of lasagnas are golden and juices are bubbling, about 20 to 25 minutes. If the tops are not yet brown, increase heat to broil and place lasagnas under broiler until tops are speckled brown. Let stand 10 minutes; serve with red wine, simple salad, crusty bread, fancy deserts, and lots of love.

Oh — and I forgot to tell you a tip about the parasols hanging from the pergola thing (thanks for the reminder, Hildy!). So, we have one of those trellis things, I never know what it's called, over the patio area, pictured here. (The lantern is several years old, from Smith & Hawken.) My friend Nancy told me about something she'd seen her friend do over her trellis thing in Italy once, while she was waiting for stuff to grow up and cover it. She floated parasols above the boards on top to give a bit of shade and extra romance. You just push the parasols up between the boards while they're closed, then open them. I would say that if you do this, it would be best to weight down the handles of the parasols somehow; I had four up there and two blew out and across the yard, even though there wasn't much of a breeze. The things act like sails. But I would think a couple of little bags of rice attached to the handles, or something like that, would help? Pretty idea — I'd been meaning to do it for ages. Would even be lovely with jelly-jar lanterns hanging from the handles for a little extra candlelight, no?


Lovely! Please do tell about the last picture- the one with the craftsman lamp and parasols......

Chris Howard says: July 20, 2006 at 08:16 AM

LOL, Hubby and I have been eating sandwiches for dinner lately because we're too lazy to cook in this heat and you guys are having lasagna! Seriously, thanks for sharing the recipe- I hope that you and Andy had a very special night.

Trees are wonderful LIVE things, and we benefit from our time spent among them. They balance us, remind us that we are creatures of nature.

I'm still reeling from Amy's camping photos. Talk about thinking out of the box!

You named your own dish: what a great idea! I'll have to try that. My hubby would love the concept.

You went to a lot of work with the cooking and setting table! Andy must LOVE being married to you!

That last pic of the umbrellas is cool. Great idea!

As always, thanks for sharing :)

Such pretty scenery! All the pics are lovely.

I want to know about that bed in Amy's tent too! I commented to her that I woud consider camping if I could have that setup!

I once visited a trapper's reenactment camp thing (so hard to explain, since I forgot what they're called - rendezvous?). These people "camped" in STYLE. Massive, four-poster feather beds, etc.

Happy Anniversary to you two! I love the way you set the table, everything down the parasols... PARASOLS. Right there, You've won my heart!

& thanks so much for the link to Amy's camping post...she is all kinds of adorable. :)

i think someday i would like to take a vacation in your world. everything is so pretty and yummy. so glad you were able to relax and enjoy the river. thank you so much for the recipe. i am making this the next time we have no children in the house!

The campsite photos were fantastic. We camp in a Eurovan which is like a very simple hotel on wheels (minus the bathroom, smelly sprays and fake flowers). On a recent trip we were cooking breakfast on a propane stove. The lady next to us ask, "why did you bring all that stuff if you aren't really camping?". Dh and I kind of smiled together having slept well on our van matresses, having locked the door from bears, and having slept without any scary bugs crawling on us. It may not be real camping but it sure is comfy. Great idea for the floating parasols.

It appears I won't be camping this summer (sniff), so I'll make do with your lovely river photo...and the link to Amy's (which are hysterical).

this looks like my favorite spot at oxbow park. great way to spend the day. amy's camp site is cracking me up! but seriously, you have got to try a yurt:

i think it would be just your speed.

mmmm sounds yummy. and the paraols are super cute!

lordy, i thought the exact same thing about amy's bed. what the heck? and we CAMP and LIKE it and i've never seen such a thing. the sink is nice too...glad you enjoyed your piney smell. TX has The Piney Woods east of here but we never get to them.

dang, shut up laura.

Beautiful photos! I think you have a pergola - I'm so jealous! I've been trying to convince the husband that he needs to build one of those - maybe if I make him the lasagna???

Looks lovely! That river doesn't look like it's been taken over by river rats......Willamette Weekly. That article has me scared to go close to any river around here. So glad to see a beautiful shot like this.
Love the parasol idea.

Oh! The river!
Lovely table and idea for the parasols. Happy anniversaryto the both of you!

I love those parasols.. but hanging things from the handles could end up damaging them somehow. Maybe if you tied string or fishing wire around the trellis, then through one of the "spokes" of the umbrella? or something like that?

So so nice! There were many reminders of my life in your essay - my love of the river and greenery (we just returned from Oregon - miss it already)and living in Montana (I'd forgotten you went to college in Missoula), and...we had a pergola for 14 years over our back deck and I just demanded that we take it down for Mother's Day. It was time to open up the sky in our situation. But your term "pergola thing" made me laugh because for 14 years whenever people came over and commented on our "gazebo" which it was not, I would say "Oh, the pergola?" and they would say "what??". Funny.

YUMMY!! that sounds so tasty!!
Happy (late) anniversary!! sounds like you both ahd a happy, and romantic time together :)

Oh my god! I've been yearning to make this dish since I first saw you post a few weeks ago. And since our heat wave (I don't think it was record-breaking here in Chicago) broke, I decided tonight was the night to celebrate.

I made a few modifications because I didn't have everything on hand, but this is the best lasagna I've ever had. And I make a pretty mean traditional lasagna, too. It was such a nice change of pace from the norm.

Thank you so much for sharing, this is definitely staying at the front of my recipe box (that is if I ever get it started).

If you'd like to see my creation, stop by my blog (I'd love to have ya).

I stumbled across your blog while I was in the process of doing some online research. The lasagna looks and sounds sensational; even those of us who love the traditional red sauce can appreciate having some variety!

I too, am glad that you had a happy and romantic time. I was prepared to give our 26th wedding anniversary a fairly low-key acknowledgement, and didn't really want to do the "Everyone Loves Raymond" episode where they go out to dinner and end up discussing the bread rolls and the kids.Laughingly told my husband this and he said " you WILL go out with me, and you WILL put up with my ugly dial across the table, and you WILL listen when I tell you how much I love you!"Who could resist that! We had a lovely time.Happy anniversary you two!

Discovered your site while Googling. Wonderful content! I plan to return. (I hope this encourages you that your posts are still enjoyed despite the year they were created. :) )

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at




Since August of 2011 I've been using a Canon EOS 60D with an EF 18-200mm kit lens and an EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens.