Lasagna has always been a favorite of mine. I remember I had a birthday party one year in high school… in fact I think it was for my 16th birthday… my Mom let me invite a bunch of my friends and we would have a supper… and hang out… girl stuff… I was allowed to pick what I wanted for supper…
I suspect my Mother secretly was hoping I’d pick something like burgers so my Dad would have to barbecue… no such luck…
I chose Lasagna… my Mother wanted to die… because the majority of my friends were from big Italian families… and we are not Italian… my Mother thought her lasagna wouldn’t hold up to what they were used to. Well… let me tell you… everyone loved the lasagna… we all had a great time.
Over the years… I’ve made lasagna… the recipe from memory… and I’m sure over time I’ve tweaked it a bit… well actually I know I did… but it has been a family favorite and always a hit wherever I’ve taken it. The ingredients are really the same as my Baked Ziti… just substituting the lasagna noodles for the ziti.
A lot of people shy away from making lasagna because they think it’s complicated to make… it really isn’t… just do it a step at a time.
For the Italian sausage you can use Hot or Sweet … or a combination… use the ground variety as opposed to the link variety… it’s easier to use… but both types will work.. if you use the links.. cut them into small pieces after cooking them…
I use previously made meatballs cut-up for part of the meat mixture…. when you make meatballs… make some extra and freeze them… then when you want to make a meat sauce … just defrost them and cut them up.. it’s great for Lasagna, Baked Ziti and meat toppings for Pizza.
I used 9 lasagna noodles (3 for each layer)… my baking dish is slightly smaller than 13x9… if you use a true 13x9 baking dish… figure you will 4 noodles per layer… you may have to trim the noodles to fit.
I always make 3-4 extra noodles than I need.. some break and tear… you can still use them if you want… depending on how badly they’re broken… I just think it’s easier to use solid complete noodles… I discard the ones I can’t use.
Cook the noodles al dente according to package directions… cooked but still a bit chewy… remember they will cook further when the lasagna is baked.
Cook the noodles in batches of about 3-4 at a time… this helps prevent rips and tears in the noodles… take them out of the water with tongs and drain in a colander… then lay them on a baking rack to dry a bit and cool while you prepare the other ingredients.
Make sure you spray the foil with cooking oil before putting it on… you don’t want the foil to stick to the cheese.
You need to let the lasagna stand for at least 15 minutes before cutting it otherwise it’s difficult to get a clean cut.
The lasagna makes a great leftover… I actually think it’s better after re-heating.
If you’re making this for a party… you can bake it partially in advance…
Don’t put the top layer of shredded mozzarella and grated Parmesan cheese on it…
Make sure you cover it in foil and bake it for the “first” baking (25 minutes)…
Then remove from the oven and let it cool…. refrigerate until you need it…
Then remove it from the fridge about 20 minutes before you want to start baking it…
Put the top layer of shredded mozzarella and grated Parmesan cheese on it and put the foil back on it.
Put the lasagna in a cold oven and set the oven heat at 375 degrees F. … when the oven reaches 375 degrees… bake for about 10-15 minutes or until hot… remove the foil and continue baking for 25 minutes until cheese is melted and sides are bubbly.
Let the lasagna stand for 15 minutes and serve.
I hope you like this recipe as much as we do.
All you need:
For the Meat Mixture:
1 lb. ground Hot Italian, bulk
About 8 large meatballs
1 cup tomato sauce
If you don’t have meatballs:
½ lb. ground sirloin
1 egg, beaten (you can also use egg beaters if you want to cut the fat even more)
1/4 cup milk (I use fat free milk, any type of milk will work)
1 medium onion finely chopped
2-3 tablespoons garlic powder (I use 3)
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley (I use curly parsley, but flat leaf works just as well)
2 tsp Italian Seasoning
3/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
For the Cheese Mixture:
1 container (15 oz.) part-skim ricotta cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup fresh chopped parsley
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Pinch of salt
1 ½ cups tomato sauce, divided
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese,divided
1 lb. bag (4 cups) shredded Mozzarella cheese
All you need to do:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
To make the noodles:
Cook the lasagna noodles al dente…according to package instructions. Cook the noodles in batches of about 3-4 at a time… this helps prevent rips and tears in the noodles… take them out of the water with tongs and drain in a colander… rinse with cold water and drain…. then lay them on a baking rack to dry a bit and cool while you prepare the other ingredients.
To make the meat mixture:
In a large skillet, break up the ground Italian sausage and cook over medium high heat, turning periodically, until cooked completely. Drain on paper towels. Set aside.
Note: If using link sausage… cook until no longer pink inside. Drain on paper towels. Cut the links up into small pieces. Set aside.
In a large bowl cut-up the meatballs.
Note: If making the beef now… mix the ground beef, egg, milk, chopped onion, garlic powder, chopped parsley, Italian Seasoning, bread crumbs and Parmesan or Romano cheese in a large bowl. Mix well. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the meat in small clumps to the hot skillet and cook until no longer pink… turning the meat periodically. Put the cooked beef mixture in a large bowl.
Add the cooked sausage and 1 cup of tomato sauce to the cooked beef mixture. Stir well, breaking up any large clumps of meat. Set aside.
To make the ricotta cheese mixture:
Mix all the cheese ingredients listed above in the “For the Cheese Mixture” section. Mix well. Set aside.
To assemble the lasagna:
Spread 1 cup of tomato sauce on the bottom a 13x9 baking dish.
Lay 3-4 lasagna noodles over the tomato sauce… don’t overlap noodles… you will probably have to trim the noodles a bit to make them fit.
Spread half of the ricotta cheese mixture over the noodles. Spread evenly.
Spread half of the meat mixture on top of the ricotta cheese mixture.
Sprinkle evenly with ½ of the shredded mozzarella cheese on top of the meat mixture..
Sprinkle ¼ cup Parmesan cheese over the mozzarella.
Layer with the lasagna noodles over the mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.
Spread remaining ricotta cheese mixture over the noodles.
Spread remaining meat mixture over the ricotta cheese mixture.
Sprinkle the meat with ¼ cup Parmesan cheese.
Layer lasagna noodles over the meat and Parmesan cheese.
Spread remaining ½ cup tomato sauce over the noodles.
Sprinkle remaining mozzarella over the noodles.
Sprinkle the mozzarella with the remaining ¼ cup Parmesan cheese.
Spray one side of foil with cooking oil.
Lay sprayed side down over the lasagna.
Place the baking dish on a large metal baking sheet… in case the lasagna bubbles over.
Bake at 375 degrees F for 25 minutes.
Remove the foil and continue baking for an additional 25 minutes. The cheese should have melted and sides are bubbly. Check it periodically… if it looks like the cheese will brown too much… loosely lay a pie of foil over the top… make sure you spray the foil with cooking spray … and lay sprayed side down to prevent any foil from sticking to the cheese. Remove from oven to cooling rack.
Let the lasagna set for 15 minutes before serving.
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