Fire Life

Marietta Station 55 Bow Tie Lasagna

By Craig Nelson

Last month, Steve Sylvester, Matt Nelson, and I were digging out fire hydrants in below-zero temperatures. This month, Fargo is preparing for a possible record flood. For any lovebirds out there looking for something to do on that special day, we begin making sandbags on Valentine’s Day (Our V-Day seems more like D-Day!). We’re shooting for around 3.5 million bags, give or take. So once again I go to my happy place, the kitchen, and try to distract myself from the looming flood with something warm for my belly. As the city starts preparing for the flood, I too will prepare by “carb loading” as much as possible between now and that special Sweethearts Day, the day when Sandbag Central opens for business. Thankfully, Lieutenant Cynthia Nally and the crew at Station 55 were nice enough to help us out in Fargo by sending a recipe that is perfect for the “carb loading” job.

This recipe was crafted in an attempt to recreate a recipe originally made by Firefighter (Ret.) B.J. Martin. None of the current members could remember how to make the recipe, so true to the fire service “can do” attitude, the crew began experimenting. They were soon able to give up trying to recreate the original because one of the experiments, Station 55 Bow Tie Pasta, turned out astonishingly well. I guess sometimes trial and error ends in success. Lt. Nally says their bowtie pasta is less work and tastes a lot like lasagna but with a little “bite” from the spice in the Italian sausage.
The crew submitting this recipe is from Marietta, Georgia, where the fire department has been in existence since 1854! Marietta has 133 career members that run out of six stations and cover 22.78 square miles. They also have a fire museum containing an 1879 Silsby Steamer named the “Aurora” (it is one of only five still in existence; check it out on their Web site at:   True to fire service background, the crew from Station 55 is comprised of a group with many diverse talents and skills from their pasts. They are also true to the fire tradition of nicknames. Each is listed as follows:
Lennie “Lynard” Wheeler – used to be an electrician (originally from Acworth, GA)

James “Graphite Smoke” Purvis – a former U.S.A. Bobsledder (originally from Brentwood, NY)

Brandon “Mojo” Clayton – just out of college (originally from Dallas, TX)

Cason “Mr. Opportunity” Wood – was a water department foreman (originally from Acworth, GA)

Luke “Stoneface” Wilson – was and still is a Marine (originally from FT. Campbell, VT)

Cynthia “Conveniently left out her nickname” Nalley – did financials for a major corporation (originally from Barre, VT)

Fargo Fire Station #3 prepared this meal. The “B” shift crew found the meal delicious and said it was very easy to make, just as the Station 55 crew from Marietta had said. Captain Conrad said they had plenty of leftovers for a crew of only three, and that they were reheating it for lunch this week.



Station 55 Bow Tie Pasta

16 oz. box of bow tie pasta
1 small onion, chopped
1 lb. Italian sausage (sweet, mild, hot…we like it hot!)
1 XL (or 2 10-oz.) jar of spaghetti sauce
1 small container ricotta cheese (about 16 oz.)
1 small container cottage cheese (about 16 oz.)
2 eggs
2 cups (16 oz.) mozzarella cheese
4 tablespoons parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 425.
Grease (or spray) baking dish.
Cook pasta for HALF of time directed on the box, then drain.
Sauté the onion about 1 min. in olive oil (or butter) in a large skillet.
Brown Italian sausage in same skillet (remove the outer casing if using raw links; makes it easier to chop up and cook).
Add spaghetti sauce, bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 min.
Mix in a bowl by hand the ricotta, cottage, and parmesan cheeses and eggs.
Layer HALF the pasta in the bottom of the pan (it may look sparse; that’s OK).
Spoon the cheese mixture over the pasta.
Spoon HALF the meat sauce over the cheese mixture.
Sprinkle with HALF the mozzarella.
Make another layer: pasta, then meat sauce, then mozzarella.
Cover and bake for 15 minutes.
Uncover and bake another 10 minutes.
Serve with salad, bread, and parmesan cheese, as desired.
Ease: of preparation: Easy, especially with some crew help
Time: About 20+ minutes baking
Cost: About $5.00 per person
Feeds: Around 5+ easily
I am always looking for more recipes. Please share your creations with other firefighters by sending in your favorite recipe. Each article contains a quick introduction to those submitting the recipe, their department, their recipe, and any stories that may surround the legendary dishes. Send recipes and a photo of the finished dish to [email protected] . Please also include your name and e-mail address.
Eat together when you are able, and stay safe out there.

Attention FDIC Attendees: Meet Craig Nelson, author of “Fire Station Cooking,” in the Fire Engineering/PennWell booth outside the main entrance to the Indiana Convention Center exhibit hall during the exhibit days, March 24-26, as part of FDIC 2011, to be held March 21-26 in Indianapolis. Sample a dish featured in the column and meet the author; bring your favorite recipe to be featured in a future column. 

Craig Nelson has been in the fire service for nine years, working as a volunteer, paid-on-call, and a full-time firefighter/EMT. He works for the Fargo (ND) Fire Department and works part-time at Minnesota State Community and Technical College–Moorhead as a fire instructor. He also works seasonally for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources as a wildland firefighter in Northwest Minnesota. Previously, he was an airline pilot. He has a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s degree in executive fire service leadership.