Monday, June 25, 2012

The Best Lasagna You Will Ever Eat

Like the best of things in life, it takes a little work, but it is worth it!

I like to think of Sunday as a day to make a comfort food.  Yesterday was my nephew’s 18th birthday.  When I was asked to make something for his birthday dinner, I decided on lasagna.  Not only does it feed a lot, but it is also a family favorite.

My version of lasagna does take a bit of time but, but in my opinion, all good things do!  The secret to an amazing lasagna is homemade sauce, I guarantee you will taste the difference and never use the jar stuff again!

At the bottom of the ingredients list, I made a list of alternative ingredients* for those of you that like things a bit spicy like I do.  I made this batch mild due to the amount of people eating it.  It is always better to play things a bit on the tamer side when feeding large groups.

Before you get started, here is a break down of the time it will take:

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Ready In: 3 hours 15 minutes

The Best Lasagna You Will Ever Eat


1 pound Italian sausage (I used Mild Italian)
3/4 pound lean ground beef
1/2 cup minced yellow onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes (I buy whole and crush myself)
2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
2 (6.5 ounce) cans canned tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons white sugar
1+1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 tablespoon salt, for sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or dried (whatever you have), split in 2 parts
12 lasagna noodles *tip: always make 2-3 extra noodles incase any of them break*
16 ounces ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt, for ricotta mixture
3/4 pound Italian Blend Cheese (mozzarella cheese will work also)
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

*Suggestions and/or Alternatives to add to the Sauce*

1 pound HOT Italian sausage – if you like things spicy
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes


Step 1:

In a Dutch oven or large pot, cook sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until well browned. 

Next, stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water. Then season with sugar, basil, Italian seasoning, 1/2 tablespoon salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons parsley. *OPTIONAL: If you are going the spicy route, add the red pepper flakes here.*

Simmer, covered, for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Step 2:

During the last 15 minutes of the sauce cooking, start the second step by bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain noodles, and rinse with cold water. 

In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese with egg, remaining 2 tablespoons of parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

To assemble

Step 3:

Spread 2 cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish.  I suggest using a disposable pan for easy disposal & less dishes, make sure to support the bottom of the pan with a baking sheet.  

Arrange 6 noodles lengthwise over meat sauce. 

Spread with one half of the ricotta cheese mixture. Top with a third of the cheese. 

Spoon another 2 cups of the meat sauce over mozzarella, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. 

Repeat layers, and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. 

Cover with foil to prevent sticking, making sure the foil does not touch the cheese.

Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes.

Remove foil, and bake an additional 25 minutes. 

Cool for 15 minutes before serving. This is very important because it allows the lasagna to firm up.

Serving Suggestions: with a side salad, garlic bread and top with fresh basil. 

I am happy to report, the lasagna was a huge hit at the party.  I hope you try it and love it as much as we all did!

Listening to: Florence + The Machine - Breaking Down
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