There’s just something about lasagna

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Lasagna is a great dish to make when having guests over or a big family meal. It’s always a hit at our house and I like to make a lasagna for special occasion meal like when a family has a baby or someone could use some comfort food. I do not make lasagna very often at all. Probably 4-5 times per year, although it is requested more often. It takes time and a lot of ingredients but when that first hot bite hits your mouth, all that work and wait is well worth it! I’ve been making my lasagna the same way for years and making little changes and improvements as I go along. I think this latest round was my best one yet! One great thing about this recipe is that it makes a big batch. I make my lasagna in a 9 x 13 inch pan and have enough extra ingredients to either make another 9 x 13 or two smaller ones. You could freeze one so the next time you’re in the mood for lasagna, the prep work is all done, just stick that baby in the oven and let the aroma soon fill your house like you’ve been working hard in the kitchen for hours! Or, you could give that second lasagna to someone! I love sharing food with our sweet neighbors and I always make more than enough! I would like to have a deeper lasagna pan so that my lasagna has more layers. With all the fillings and plenty of goodies, I can only fit 2 layers into my 9 x 13 Pyrex pan. I’ve made it before when giving away to a family in the deeper disposable aluminum pans and it is nice and tall with at least 3 layers, plus easy cleanup for the family!

Here’s the recipe – remember this makes enough for around two 9 x 13 inch lasagnas if they are only 2 layers in height but you have to know to partition your ingredients so you don’t run out.  If you are only wanting to make one lasagna, then cut the recipe in half. If you happen to have any extra sauce, then you could always freeze it in a freezer bag to use with pasta down the road. My recipe uses beef. If you aren’t into meat and want it vegetarian, then just omit the beef. It has plenty of cheese as well and I guess you could use dairy free cheese, but I’m not sure how well it would turn out. I use the full fledge real deal cheese!

Lasagna with meat sauce

Ingredients for the sauce:

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1 TBS olive oil

1 1/2 – 2 lbs lean ground beef

1 28 oz can diced tomatoes. I prefer petite diced but I grabbed the wrong can when I made this.

1 15 oz can tomato sauce

1 28-29 oz can tomato sauce

1 12 oz can tomato paste

1 large onion – diced

3 large garlic cloves – minced

1 TBS basil leaves

1 TBS oregano leaves

1 TBS Italian seasoning

1 TBS Parsley

1/2 TBS garlic powder

Kosher Salt and ground pepper to taste

1 – 1 1/2 ladles of pasta water

 

Ricotta Filling:

15-20 oz Ricotta cheese. I use part skim.

1 large egg

1 TBS Gourmet Gardens Basil or fresh chopped basil

Cheese Cheese Cheese:

1 1/2 – 2 lbs shredded mozzarella cheese

2 C shredded sharp cheddar cheese

8 oz shredded parmesan cheese

16 oz lasagna noodles. I only use the kind you have to cook.

 

Directions:

In a large pot (at least 6 quarts), saute’ diced onion in olive oil on medium heat until onions are translucent. Add in ground beef and stir to brown. Add in minced garlic when meat is almost done.

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When meat is done, add in tomato paste, diced tomatoes and tomato sauce.

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Add in all spices and salt and pepper. Stir and adjust seasoning as needed.

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Simmer on low heat until ready to use. Heat water for pasta in a large pot to a rapid boil. Remember to add 1 1/2 ladles of hot pasta water to the sauce and stir at the end of pasta cooking time.

Once your pasta water is boiling, add a little Kosher salt to the water and add in all the pasta and cook per package directions. Carefully make sure all the pasta is submerged in the water. Use spoon or tongs to stir pasta periodically while pasta is cooking to make sure it is not sticking.

In the meantime, mix up your Ricotta, 1 large beaten egg, and Gourmet Gardens Basil or fresh chopped basil in a bowl with a spoon.

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Drain the pasta and then rinse for just a few seconds with cold water and let drain until ready to use.

Lay all your ingredients out so you are ready to assemble and spray your lasagna pan with nonstick spray.

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Begin assembling your lasagna. This is the order I use, I first spoon a little sauce in the bottom of the pan.

Then I lay down lasagna noodles. I use 3 noodles per layer in a 9 x 13 pan and I like the edges of the lasagna noodles to overlap a little.

Then spread some of the ricotta filling mixture evenly over the noodles. They are not completely covered.

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Then spoon sauce over the noodles, spreading sauce out and making sure the edges are all covered.

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Then add the cheese. I just grab a handful of mozzarella, another if needed and then a little of cheddar and then a little bit of parmesan and make sure it’s evenly and generously dispersed.

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Then repeat, with noodles, ricotta mixture, meat sauce, cheese, cheese, cheese! Keep repeating until you are at the top of your pan.

I’m able to get 2 layers into a 9 x 13. Make an additional lasagna(s) with your leftover ingredients, eyeball it and use a smaller pan if you don’t think you have quite enough for another 9 x 13. If you plan to freeze a lasagna, you can either bake it first, then freeze it and bake it again or reheat when you are going to eat it, or just put the lasagna straight into the freezer and leave all the baking for when you are going to eat it. Mine made 1 9 x 13 and two additional smaller lasagnas (all were 2 layered lasagnas). It’s going to depend on how generous you are with your ingredients and how deep your pan is. I just baked all three so my husband could have plenty of leftovers for work and gave the smaller lasagna to our neighbors. Lasagna seems to get even better the next day so usually I don’t cook for a day or two after making it for supper.

This cook likes a little break too 🙂

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Bake lasagna at 375 degrees F uncovered for 40-45 min or until cheese is all melty and bubbly. It’s best to have a sheet pan or something underneath the lasagna in the oven in case there’s any bubbling over. Remove from oven and let it cool for 10-15 minutes before cutting and serving to help it set up a bit.

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Enjoy!


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