Sunday, June 3, 2007



Lasagna is one of my favorite comfort foods but it can take an awfully long time to make. It’s definitely a weekend meal because from start to finish, it usually takes about 4 hours to prepare. To speed things up you can make the sauce a day ahead to cut the prep and cook time down to an hour, so that’s doable for a weeknight meal. I can never get it to cut as cleanly as some of the pictures I’ve seen with the perfect wavy edges and distinct ricotta and sauce layers. The cheese and sauce just seem to melt and mix together whenever I make it but that’s fine with me since everything mixes in your tummy anyway.

- If you are using boil lasagna noodles, cook them about 2 minutes short of al dente.
- One possible way to avoid the sauce mixing with the cheese is to make one layer entirely ricotta and mozzerella and another layer all sauce and keep them separate with the noodles. So it would look something like this:
     1 1/2 C mozzerella
     2 C of meat sauce
     Noodle layer 3
     All of the ricotta + 2 1/2 C mozzerella
     Noodle layer 2
     2 1/2 C meat sauce sauce
     Noodle layer 1
     1/4 C sauce

I haven’t tried this yet because I’m a creature of habit and I keep layering my lasagnas the way I do.
- You can freeze unbaked lasagna, first wrap it tightly with plastic wrap then wrap with foil. Defrost a day or two in advance, remove the plastic wrap, and then cover back up with foil. Bake for 5 minutes longer than the specified time.

Hearty Meaty Lasagna

Meat sauce, full recipe
9 no-boil lasagna noodles
1 lb shredded mozzarella, about 4 cups
15 oz. ricotta, about 1 3/4 C
2 oz. parmesan, about 1 C
1/2 C chopped fresh basil leaves
1 large egg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.

In a bowl, lightly beat the egg, then mix in the ricotta, 3/4 C of the parmesan, basil, salt, and pepper. Set aside.

Ladle about 1/4 C of the meat sauce, avoiding large chunks of meat into a 9 x 13 baking pan and cover the bottom. Lay 3 noodles in the dish. Then spread half of the ricotta mixture by dropping spoonfuls on each noodle. Spread it out on each noodle with the back of a spoon. Then evenly cover the ricotta with 1 1/3 C of the shredded mozzarella. Then evenly cover the mozzarella with 1 1/2 C of the meat sauce (no more than a third of the total meat sauce). Finally cover the sauce with another layer of 3 noodles.

Repeat the ricotta – cheese – sauce – noodle layering for the second layer.

For the top layer, cover the noodle with another 1 - 1 1/2 C of the sauce. Toss the remaining 1 1/3 C of mozzarella with the remaining 1/4 C of parmesan. Spread the cheese over the top of the lasagna.

The lasagna will look like this:
     Rest of mozzarella 1 1/3 C + rest of parmesan 1/4 C
     1 – 1 1/2 C meat sauce
     Noodle Layer 3
     1 1/2 C of meat sauce
     1 1/3 Mozzerella
     Rest of ricotta mixture
     Noodle layer 2
     1 1/2 C meat sauce
     1 1/3 C mozzerella
     1/2 of ricotta mixture
     Noodle layer 1
     1/4 C sauce, no meat

Spray a piece of aluminum foil with nonstick spray and cover the baking dish. Bake at 375ºF covered for 15 minutes. Remove the foil then bake another 25 minutes until the lasagna is bubbly and the cheese is spotty brown. Steven likes the cheese really brown so I baked the full 40 minutes uncovered. Cool 10 minutes and serve.

Serves 6 – 8.

This will be my entry for Presto Pasta Night #15. Check out the roundup on Ruth's blog Once Upon a Feast this Friday.

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