Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Classic Italian Lasagna Your Family Will Love

One of the rules I live by when planning meals is to make things easy for myself.   Lasagna is one of those dishes that solves many menu problems and it is for this reason, I turn to lasagna when I think of easy foods. That's especially true when I'm planning dinner for a crowd.

My Classic Lasagna Recipe

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Traditional Italian Lasagna
Yummy Italian Lasagna

Are you feeling like you need hearty comfort food?  Lasagna, a green salad, and warm garlic bread will certainly fit the bill.  Do you need to feed a group of family and friends this weekend?  Lasagna, a Caesar salad, and some flavorful focaccia bread will feed a large group.

Do you want to have a ready to go meal in your freezer for any occasion?  Lasagna is easily reheated in your oven and ready to go when paired with a Caprese salad and warm garlic bread. I love this enameled cast iron pan for my lasagna.  It works perfectly when I'm going from the freezer to the oven with my lasagna.  That's something I do all the time.

Classic Italian Lasagna

Are you seeing a pattern here?  Lasagna is the answer to your needs.  Most people love lasagna, so it is a very good option when planning a meal for a group of friends or family.  Making lasagna can feel like an overwhelming exercise, but it doesn't have to feel that way.  If you plan and approach your preparation in steps, you will find it to be well worth your efforts.

One step I in lasagna preparation that I have always found to be tedious is the preparation of the lasagna noodles.  One way around this step is to use packaged lasagna noodles that don’t require precooking.  Another option is to place traditional lasagna noodles in a 13x9 inch pan and cover them with boiling water for thirty minutes. Pat the noodles dry before layering in your lasagna.

Soak Lasagna Noodles in Boiling Water

My classic lasagna recipe began many years ago, maybe 20 years ago or more, when I saw this recipe in Good Housekeeping magazine.  Yes, I still have the original page from the magazine tucked away in my recipe archives.

A Classic Lasagna Recipe
Good Housekeeping's Classic Lasagna Recipe
Over the years, I have made some changes, so the recipe I'm sharing with you below is an adaptation. I encourage you to make changes that will suit the tastes of your family.  We like lots of seasoning, so make adjustments as you see fit.  Lasagna is relatively easy to make and delicious to eat.  It’s not a dish you whip together for a quick weeknight dinner.  This lasagna freezes very well, so it really is a great dish to make when you have a little time and freeze for later.

Just One Donna's Classic Lasagna

Printer Friendly Recipe
Makes one 13x9" pan

The Lasagna Ingredients
Lasagna Ready to Bake
Lasagna Ready for Baking

  • 1 pound ground beef 
  • ½ pound hot Italian sausage
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 ½-2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1-2 Tablespoons dried Italian seasonings
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped fine
  • 3 T chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 12 lasagna noodles
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 15-ounce container ricotta cheese 
  • 1 16-ounce pkg mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1-cup Parmesan cheese

In a 5-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat, cook ground beef and hot sausage until all the pan juices evaporate.  Add the diced onion and cook until soft.  Add the garlic and cook one minute more. Your beef mixture should be well browned.  This is important to the flavor of your lasagna.

Tip:  I like to drain my meat mixture in a colander placed over a paper towel-lined pie plate.

Return the meat mixture to the pan.  Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, sugar, salt, bay leaf, and the dried herbs, crushed between your palms.  (Note:  I don’t always add sugar.  I taste the tomatoes to see how acidic they taste and add the sugar, if necessary.)

Heat the sauce to boiling, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Taste for seasoning and make adjustments. Discard the bay leaf and remove from heat.

Prepare your lasagna noodles as the package directs, or use one of the tips I mentioned above.  Put a thin layer of sauce in the bottom of a 13 x 9-inch heavy pan.  If using traditional lasagna noodles, arrange four noodles in the pan, overlapping to fit.  For oven-ready noodles, use three.  Combine the eggs, ricotta cheese, and chopped parsley.

Spoon 1/3 of the ricotta mixture over the noodles, spreading thinly.  I use either a spoon or an offset spatula to spread the layers.  Top with 1/4 of the mozzarella cheese, a sprinkle of the Parmesan cheese and 1/4 of the sauce.  Repeat two more times.

Finish with a layer of noodles, sauce and then cheese. Cover the prepared lasagna with plastic wrap and then aluminum foil.  Let is cool on your counter and then either refrigerate or freeze until ready to bake.

Layering Lasagna with Cheese and Sauce

Bake the lasagna in a 375°F oven for 45 minutes or until bubbly and heated through.  Remove from the oven and let stand at least 20 minutes before serving.  Makes 8-12 dinner servings.

Lasagna makes my life easier at any time of year.  Make it.  Freeze it.  You'll be happy you did!

You might also like to try this lasagna that uses eggplant and zucchini slices in place of lasagna noodles.

Vegetable Lasagna

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