For real, I could live off Italian food.
I’ve been told my family lineage is Irish, English, & German. Somewhere there has GOT to be some Italian. If not, that’s just a shame. But I can still enjoy the food.
I love making it. The smell of it. The effort and love that goes into it. The meaty goodness. The ooey, gooey, cheesiness of it all. The different shapes of the pasta, all the different sauces, and the different things you can create with them.
I love learning how to make new things. And then tasting them. And experimenting with them.
I just love it all.
Seriously Ma, are you sure we’re not Italian?
Anyway… Back to what this post is really about. Lasagna. Probably one of my absolute favorite Italian dishes. My go to at the restaurants.
Since I have this love affair with Italian food. And a boyfriend who could eat for days. I decided to attempt making lasagna. How hard could it be??!!
I researched some recipes. How hard could it be? VERY!
Oh. My. Goodness it could be hard! If you google a recipe for the best lasagna ever it tells you how to make the sauce. And cook the sauce. Hell fire, some of these recipes I found were so intense I’m surprised it didn’t have me going out on the farm and slaughtering our own beef! (Granted, I did use some of our beef – which is always wonderful!)
After much googling and realizing that if I wanted to follow one of these recipes I’d be cooking for hours, if not all day, I decided to do my own thing. How hard could this be?
Answer: Much easier than following the recipes for the “World’s Best Lasagna.”
It was still ooey, gooey, cheesy. Still tons of meat. Lots of layers. But if you ask me, way easier than those other guys make it out to be.
1 pound ground beef
1 pound italian sausage (I used mild, in the casings & cut the casings off – you can use whatever you like)
15oz of Ricotta (I bought a 24oz container & scooped out what I wanted. Roughly 15-18oz, NOT enough. Use the whole thing.)
2 cups shredded mozzarella
1 cup Parmesan (shredded or grated, I used a combination of the 2)
2 cans of Hunts pasta sauce (I used Garlic & Herb, use whatever you like best)
1 8oz can of diced tomatoes (I used italian seasoned)
1 small can tomato paste
Italian Seasoning (or a mix of your favorites)
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
1 box no boil lasagna noodles
1) Dice onion & begin cooking in a greased pan (I used spray Pam, but you can use olive oil, butter, whatever your favorite). I cooked the onions low & slow, mainly because I’m famous for burning them. As the onions were cooking I also prepped my meat – got out my beef & cut my sausage out of the casings.
2) *You can skip this step if you chose, if you do, add your meat before onion is finished cooking* Once my onion was done cooking, good and soft, I put it in the blender with a little bit of the sauce. Blended it up so the onion was no longer in pieces but totally mixed in & purred with the sauce. If you don’t want to do this step, go ahead & add your meat when the onion is about 1/2 way done cooking.
3) Begin browning your meat & add the minced garlic when the meat is about half way done. Once the meat is completely browned add both cans of sauce, diced tomatoes, and tomato paste to the mixture. I also added about a palm full of italian type seasonings at this point. Let simmer until tomato paste has a chance to melt into the rest of the sauce.
4) In separate bowl, mix together the ricotta, 1/2 of the parmesan cheese (I used grated for this part), 1/2 of the mozzarella cheese, parsley, & the egg. Mix everything together well.
5) In a greased 9×13 pan start the layering process! Add a small layer of your meat sauce on the bottom. Then your first layer of noodles. On top of the noodles spread some of your cheese mixture, then your meat mixture. This completes layer 1. My next layer I flipped the direction of the noodles (I started layer 1 going L-R, layer 2 was Top-Bottom) and continued the noodle/cheese/sauce process. Keep going until you either run out of room in your pan (this is what happened to me – we still have some sauce for spaghetti next week) or you run out of ingredients (if you are using a deeper pan, I would make more cheese mixture because I did run out of cheese). Once you are done layering, top your lasagna with the remaining mozzarella and parmesan (I used shredded at this point) cheeses.
6) Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes at 450 degrees. Then, baked uncovered for another 10-15 minutes.
7) Enjoy. Pair it with salad and your favorite garlic bread. Or whatever you like to enjoy with lasagna.
It may not be the “World’s Best Lasagna”, but it was pretty damn good. Mr. Chocolate raved about it every time we ate it. He kept telling me that I have to make it again, very soon.
This was a little “labor intensive” for a weeknight meal. But honestly, it took about 2 hours, and 1/2 of that was oven cook time. I will definitely be making this for Mr. Chocolate and myself again, very soon.