Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Best Lasagna Ever!

I kid you not, this is by far the best lasagna I have EVER tasted!  Everyone I have made it for agrees.  I'm not gonna lie, it's a lot of work and it takes a long time.  But WOW, is it worth it!  Besides, lasagna is so filling, you can make it on Sunday and it will feed you for the better part of that week.

When you make this recipe, depending on the size and depth of your lasagna pan, you will probably end up with left over meat sauce.  No worries - it freezes just fine!  Then just thaw it in the microwave some night when you're in a hurry for dinner and use it to make spaghetti!  I occasionally double the sauce recipe on purpose so that I have extra sauce for later, it is soooo incredibly yummy.  :)

  • 1 lb sweet Italian turkey sausage (I usually buy a package of Jeanie-O Italian turkey sausages and then slice them open and remove that skin -- I have no idea if it's 1 lb or not, but it works perfectly) [alternatively, you could buy regular pork sausage but it tastes the same and cuts down on the fat]
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped pretty small
  • 10 cloves of garlic, crushed or minced
  • 1 28oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 2 6oz cans of tomato paste
  • 2 6.5oz cans of tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 3 teaspoons dried basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 Tabelspoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 package of lasagna noodles
  • 16 ounces of ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 lb mozzarella cheese, sliced or shredded
  • 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese 
  1. Begin by dumping all the cans of tomatoes into a large pot.  Add water.  Just a tip: instead of measuring out the water, I just estimate and use the water to rinse out the tomato cans.  It's close enough, and less of the tomato goodness gets wasted!
  2. Add half of the parsley (or 2 Tbs), the basil, fennel, pepper and Italian seasoning to the pot.  Stir it all up.  Put the lid on and begin to simmer over low heat.
  3. In a large frying pan, cook the ground beef and Italian sausage with the onion and garlic over medium-high heat until well browned.  If you're like me and you own a wimpy frying pan that can't hold everything at once, just cook the beef and sausage separately.  When it's done (i.e., well browned), throw the meat into the pot too.
  4. Now, how long you simmer the meat sauce is entirely up to you.  A lot of people say that the longer you simmer it, the better it tastes.  The recommended time is 1.5 hours, but many people say they let it simmer away for many hours.  I personally do not have the kind of patience, and I think it still tastes great even if it only simmers for 30 minutes or so.  But it's up to you.  However long you decide to cook it for, just make sure you keep it covered and stir it ever once in awhile.  
  5. While you're waiting for your sauce, you can get your ricotta cheese mixture ready.  Mix together the ricotta cheese with one egg, the remaining 2 Tbs of Parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. 
  6. When you have decided your sauce is done, preheat the oven to 375 degrees, get out your 9x13 inch baking dish, and begin assembling your lasagna!  Here is the order of the layers:
    1.  Meat sauce.  I don't measure it out or anything, just make sure the bottom of the pan is well covered.
    2. Arrange noodles over the meat sauce.  NOTE: You do NOT have to boil the noodles first!  I know a lot of recipes tell you to, but trust me, it will be fine.  If you're really worried about it, you can soak them in some hot tap water while your sauce is cooking, but I never do and it always turns out great.
    3. Spread half the ricotta cheese mixture over the noodles
    4. Top with half of your mozzarella cheese
    5. Spoon some more meat sauce over the mozzarella
    6. Noddles again
    7. The rest of the ricotta cheese mixture
    8. Top with remaining mozzarella
    9. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese on top 
  7. Cover the lasagna with foil.  To prevent your foil from sticking to the melted cheese and making a mess, spray it with some cooking spray.  
  8. Bake for 25 minutes.  Remove the foil, and bake for another 25 minutes.  Let it cool for about 15 minutes before serving.  

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