Lasagna

I know, it’s taken forever for me to get this one up. I’ve been extremely busy with three different projects and on top of that, I’m about to move again. There will be some big announcements coming up soon, but nothing to do with cooking, so we’ll just leave that be for now. =)

Today, I bring you my lasagna recipe. I say MY recipe because I’m very picky when it comes to lasagna. I don’t like ricotta cheese, so it’s not in my recipe, but by all means add it if you’d like. It just reminds me of cottage cheese, which is a poor substitute for ricotta cheese and which I hate. Don’t ever serve an Italian any Italian dish with cottage cheese as the substitute. You might get whacked.

Note that this recipe is entirely homemade, including the sauce. You may substitute jarred sauce, but please don’t tell me you did it. That’s like sacrilege to an Italian.

Lasagna

Photo credit: Jinxie G

Ingredients:

1 pkg (8oz.) lasagna noodles

1-2 lbs. ground beef (you can substitute ground turkey for this, but you’ll need to add ground sage to season it. It just helps it taste better)

marinara sauce (recipe below)

mozzarella cheese (4 cups)

Colby jack cheese (4 cups)

6 tblsp. Parmesan cheese (or 2 cups)

3 eggs

First, you’ll need to make the sauce. Below, I’ve added my marinara recipe, which can also be found here.

Marinara

Photo credit: Jinxie G

Ingredients:
1 29 oz. can of tomato sauce (it doesn’t have to be a name brand)
2-3 cloves of fresh garlic (or 1-2 teaspoons of minced garlic*)
Extra virgin olive oil
Garlic powder
Onion powder (optional)
Italian seasonings (optional)

*Note: the minced garlic can be found in a jar at the store so you don’t have to mince a clove or two of garlic yourself. Keep it in the refrigerator. I prefer fresh garlic and enjoy the hell out of my garlic press. And as you can see from the multiple cloves sitting on that cutting board, I love garlic! =)

Add a splash or two of extra virgin olive oil to the pan, then add your garlic and sauté it on medium to low-medium heat. You’ll want to sauté it to a golden brown. Be careful not to burn the garlic.

 

Once the garlic is ready, add the can of tomato sauce and about half a can of water. Depending on how thick or thin you like your sauce, adjust the portion of water.

 

Bring the sauce to a boil and stir occasionally. As the sauce boils, you’ll see a foam rising to the top.

 

Skim the foam off. I usually keep the tomato sauce can on the stove just for this purpose. You can dump the foam in there. Continue to boil until it no longer foams – about 15 minutes or so – and stir. After you’ve skimmed the sauce, you can add garlic powder. Allow it to simmer another 15 minutes and add other desired seasonings to taste–onion powder and Italian seasonings.

 

This sauce takes about an hour to cook.

Next, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brown the ground hamburger. I like to add spices to the hamburger as it’s browning: garlic powder, onion powder and Italian seasonings, but remember that you’ve used these in the sauce as well so don’t go overboard on spices or it’ll turn out to be a vampire’s worst nightmare.

Note: I do not pre-cook the noodles. The juices from the rest of the ingredients will do the job just fine.

Once the hamburger is ready, stir it into the sauce and let it simmer. While that’s simmering, you can prepare the cheeses. Now, I’ve given you measurements to go by, but honestly, I just eyeball it and use my hands. Use about 3/4ths of the cheeses and mix them together in a large bowl with the 3 eggs. This will be your cheese layer.

Grab a 13x9x2 baking dish and line up 3 lasagna noodles on the bottom of the dish. Yes, they won’t look big enough, but pasta expands. Next, spoon a layer of the meat sauce over the noodles. Cover them nicely, but not too much.

Then do a layer of your cheese mix.

Repeat this process until you run out of ingredients or room to layer. Don’t forget that you’ll need a little room on top for the remainder of  sauce and cheese.

Once you’ve finished with all of your layers, top the dish with the remaining cheeses (sans eggs and you may have cheese left over) and cover with foil. You will bake this for 30 minutes. After that, remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Let it stand for 10 minutes before serving. Cut pieces out with a spatula and serve.

From the photo at the top, you’ll see I served this dish with breadsticks. A perfect compliment to the meal, as is a fine Cabernet Sauvignon.

As I said earlier, you can add whatever you like to the layers. Some suggestions would be zucchini, squash or the like. That’s what one of my many brothers does and it’s also amazing!

Piacere!

Vive bene, spesso l’amore, di risata molto!

(live well, love much, and laugh often)

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