The cheese, sauce and noodles are bubbling in the oven!

Lasagna is something I’ve made endlessly over the years for my family. It can be made ahead and even frozen until you’re ready to cook. This is another recipe committed to memory, which prompted me to write everything down while I made it tonight. My advice is to use the best ingredients and the thinnest lasagna noodles available, which usually are not found in a box.

Although, I’m pretty confident in my lasagna-making ability, I will never serve it to my son-in-law from Naples, Italy since his family’s Italian restaurant makes the best I’ve ever tasted…hands down! It’s his nonna, Mamma Carmela’s recipe. Her lasagna is layers of thin homemade noodles with the most incredible sauce and cheese. It’s something we order whenever we go to their restaurant because it is a delicacy for any lasagna lover.

Although, mine is not nearly as good, here’s my version that begins with meat sauce that cooks all day and thin, fresh, store-bought lasagna noodles (someday I’ll learn to make my own)!

Classic Meat Lasagna

1 pound ground beef

1 pound Italian sausage

1 medium onion, chopped

1 carrot, diced small

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1 TBSP olive oil

1 28 ounce can of San Marzano Style Whole Peeled Tomatoes

1 15 ounce can tomato puree

1 6 ounce can tomato paste

1/4 cup red wine

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp basil

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

16 ounce fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced (such as Bel Gioioso or Galbani)

12 ounces shredded mozzarella or Italian blend cheese (the one I used tonight was for Pizzas)

16 ounces ricotta cheese (such as Bel Gioioso, Galbani, Lucerne or Maggio)

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 egg

16 ounces lasagna pasta (I use thin flat sheets of fresh pasta)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degree F.
  2. In a large pan or Dutch oven, heat olive oil and add chopped onions, carrots and sliced garlic. Sauté for 5-6 minutes until the onion is translucent.
  3. Add the ground beef and Italian sausage and cook until completely browned. Drain fat and return to pan.
  4. Add whole peeled tomatoes, tomato puree, tomato paste, red wine, oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Bring to boil then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 3 to 4 hours, stirring occasionally. At this point, I emulsify the sauce to thin out the meat but that’s optional and not necessary.
  5. Slice the mozzarella log or purchase pre-sliced.
  6. In another bowl, mix the ricotta cheese, egg, Parmesan cheese, parsley, salt and pepper until combined. Set aside.
  7. In a 14 x 11 1/2 baking dish you will begin to assemble the lasagna ladling some of the pasta sauce on the bottom. Top this with the 2 fresh lasagna noodle sheets (you do not need to cook the noodle if it is fresh. If you are using a box lasagna noodle, follow the instructions to cook before this step). Add another layer of sauce, then dollops of the ricotta cheese mixture that you’ll smooth over the meat. Next, you’ll add the sliced mozzarella cheese in three rows of three. You will repeat these steps two more times. After the final layer you’ll add the shredded mozzarella cheese and remaining slices of mozzarella. Finally, sprinkle with some Parmesan.
  8. Cover the lasagna with foil and cook for 50-60 minutes on top of a baking sheet (to catch any sauce that may bubble over). Remove the foil and cook for an additional 10 minutes until the top is slightly browned.

Serve with Caesar Salad and garlic or sour dough bread. Serves 6 – 8.

Enjoy! XOXO Jill