Friday, August 6, 2010
• 3/4 pound lean ground beef
• 1/2 cup minced onion
• 2 cloves garlic, crushed
• 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
• 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 teaspoons dried basil leaves
• 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
• 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
• 1 t salt
• 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
• 4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
• 12 lasagna noodles
• 16 ounces ricotta cheese
• 1 egg
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 3/4 pound mozzarella cheese, sliced
• 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1. In a Dutch oven, cook sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until well browned. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water. Season with sugar, basil, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons parsley. Simmer, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
2. 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 parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
4. To assemble, spread 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Arrange 6 noodles lengthwise over meat sauce. Spread with one half of the ricotta cheese mixture. Top with a third of mozzarella cheese slices. Spoon 1 1/2 cups 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, either spray foil with cooking spray, or make sure the foil does not touch the cheese.
5. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil, and bake an additional 25 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.
**Don’t bother boiling the noodles, just soak themin HOT water
***Excellent and Authentic recipe! A little more work and ingredients, but well worth it. Use FRESH basil for more flavor - I use about 1/2 - 2/3 cup fresh chopped basil. It cooks down and is sooo aromatic. The mix of sausage and beef is sublime, so no need for more salt. I always add a dash of nutmeg to the ricotta mixture (an old italian secret!). I usually make this a day ahead for the flavors and herbs to meld in the fridge then let it sit at room temperature for about 1 hour before baking.
****Another tip for lasagna makers - no need to wash another pot to boil noodles. Soak raw, hard noodles in a large bowl of very hot tap water for 20-30 min. Noodles won't be cooked but soft, and can complete it's cooking in the oven.
Also if short on time...do not need to cook the sauce. Sounds bizarre, but it's true. If you make the lasagna ahead and leave it in the fridge overnight, the flavors blend perfectly, no cooking required. For a chunkier tomato sauce, I subbed 1/2 of the crushed tomatoes with diced italian-flavored tomatoes. I layered everything in this order: sauce-noodles-ricotta mixture-sauce-meat-shredded mozzerella...did 3 layers like this and then finished with a layer of noodles, sauce and shredded mozzerella and a generous sprinkling of parmesean on top. Following this method, I had the whole thing put together and in the fridge in less than an hour. It sat overnight and cooked the following night.
You can also let the sauce simmer on the stove as long as possible. I also add a bit of whatever red wine I have on hand to the sauce. And I try to make a double recipe, so I can use the sauce for other things - it works wonderfully for Chicken Parmesan, plain ol' spaghetti, and anywhere else you'd use a red sauce. Everything tastes better the second day, too.