I LOVE lasagna. Tender lasagna noodles layered with a homemade sauce, creamy ricotta, and finished with a sprinkling of Mozzarella and Parmesan oh so good! I can’t imagine a much better combination of textures and flavors.
I have several other lasagna recipes and even a tortilla lasagna which are all tummy rubbing good, but this recipe is heads and tails above the rest. The key lies in the home made sauce packed with Italian sausage, fresh basil, and a sprinkling of sugar. Apart from being mind blowingly tasty; lasagna is the perfect winter dish that will warm you up from the inside out on a chilly winter day. Curiously I made this on a day when the sun was shining and the thermometer read 80, but I had time on my hands and a craving so those two things were enough to get me to turn on my oven whip this together.
Tada! this is what the lasagna look like right before going into the oven; isn’t it beautiful? The order of the layers is:
sauce, noodles, Ricotta, Mozzarella, Parmesan
. Repeat two more times
but on the last layer switch the order of the sauce and two cheeses
such that you finish the dish with a sprinkling of cheese and not a naked layer of sauce.
Here is the finished product. Now before you dive in enlist all your will power and let the pasta sit for 20 minuets. I find enjoying a glass of wine to be a suitable distraction. This delay before serving ensures that your lasagna will slice into neat little sections and protects your tongue from burning. Once the longest 20 minuets that your stomach has ever had to wait are over slice into servings and serve with a glass of wine and a little green salad. Enjoy!
World’s Greatest Lasagna
(with a few mild adjustments)
Serves 12 but I halved the recipe to make the size in the photo
1 pound spicy Italian sausage
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
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
12 lasagna noodles
16 ounces ricotta cheese
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 pound mozzarella cheese, sliced
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
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.
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.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
To assemble, spread 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 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, 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*.
Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil, and bake an additional 20 minutes. Cool for 20 minutes before serving.
*If you don’t want to prepare this ahead of dinner simply assemble the lasagna and then place in the fridge up to 24 hours ahead of cook time. When your ready to cook this can go directly from fridge into your oven; just be sure to add about 10 extra minuets to the first half of the cook time to account for the initial coolness of the dish.