09 February 2009
Since I had the sauce left over from our Italian Feast the other night, I decided to make a lasagne. But Amy, you're thinking, I thought you didn't like sauce on pasta. You're right, dear reader, I don't. This lasagne will be cut up and frozen in individual portions so Andrew can reheat them in the toaster oven for dinner if I'm not home. I like making lasagne, I just don't like to eat it.
This recipe is pretty simple - I didn't get it from anywhere, it's just a mish-mash of recipes I've read, my mom's method, and what sounds good to me. Of course, you can tweak it based on what you like best.
1.5 lb. ground beef
1 medium yellow onion, minced
26-30 oz. tomato sauce (a large jar, if you're using jarred sauce)
1 lb. shredded mozzarella
10 oz. ricotta cheese
3 handfuls grated pecorino romano
2 splashes milk (maybe 1/4 cup)
1 lb. lasagne noodles
salt & pepper
dried basil, Italian seasonings, parsley, red pepper flakes, garlic powder
In a large skillet, brown ground beef until mostly cooked through. Add onions and stir to combine. Cook beef and onions until beef is fully cooked. Drain in a fine strainer so you don't lose the little pieces of onion. Return beef and onions to skillet, add tomato sauce.
At this point, I also added garlic powder, red pepper flakes, dried parsley, and Italian seasonings. Simmer until the pasta is done cooking, then turn the heat off under the sauce.
In the meantime, fill a tea kettle with water and bring to a boil on the stove. Lay lasagne noodles out in a 13" x 9" pan - I laid three noodles lengthwise, two on a diagonal, two going the other diagonal, and then started over. I wanted to be sure they wouldn't stick together too much.
When water is boiling, pour over the noodles in the pan and let stand for 8-10 minutes, until noodles are tender but still extremely al dente.
I think this is much simpler than trying to boil lasagne noodles in a stock pot. I am too nervous to attempt not cooking the noodles at all, so this is a happy medium for me.
While the noodles soak, prepare your cheese filling. Combine half of the mozzarella, the ricotta, and a handful of pecorino romano. Add two eggs, Italian seasoning and garlic powder.
Mix ingredients until cheeses are fully incorporated.
At this point, you may want to add another 5 oz. of ricotta. Andrew doesn't care for ricotta as much, so I opted to add two glugs of milk instead - this successfully thinned the mixture to the consistency I desired.
Now you're ready to begin building your lasagne. I set up an assembly line, because that seemed easiest to me. The pan on the left in the picture contains the soaked and drained lasagne noodles. The skillet has the ground meat/sauce mixture, and the bowl in the foreground is the cheese mixture. The 13" x 9" between the meat pan and the cheese bowl is my lasagne pan.
Spoon a small amount of the sauce (without beef in it) into the bottom of a 13" x 9" pan. This will prevent your noodles from sticking. Layer noodles across the bottom of the pan, making sure to overlap so that your fillings don't all smush together. I used five noodles horizontally and two noodles vertically for each layer, and used every single noodle in the box with none left over.
Onto your noodle layer, spoon a third of the meat mixture onto the pasta and spread it as evenly as possible.
Onto the meat mixture, spoon one half of the cheese mixture. Spread as evenly as possible.
At this point, you have done one layer of pasta, one of meat, and one of cheese. The layers should continue as follows: pasta, meat, cheese, pasta, meat.
Now, you're short a layer of cheese, right? Fear not, this is the cheesiest part of the recipe! Add the other half of the mozzarella to the top of the lasagne. Sprinkle the other two handfuls of pecorino romano over the top. I sprinkled mine with Italian seasoning as well.
Bake at 375 for 45 minutes. If you place the rack in the center of the oven, you should be able to bake covered with foil for the first 40 minutes, then remove the foil for the last 5 minutes to allow the cheese to brown and bubble.
Though there are many steps, this recipe is so easy to put together. I had all my ingredients available and all pans ready to go when I got home from work tonight. It took me less than an hour to put together the lasagne, and I made our dinner at the same time. Enjoy this delicious lasagne any night of the week, or freeze in individual portions for baking in the toaster oven anytime.