My mom would deny to her death that she is a great cook. But she is. And many of my “tried-and-true” recipes are none other than hers (many of which I have yet to post here – can’t wait!). This lasagna is no exception. It takes a bit more time than throwing together layers of noodles, cottage cheese and bottled spaghetti sauce, but it is soooo worth it. The sauce simmers on the stove to blend the flavors and it is the perfect combination of sauce, meat and tomatoes. This is a favorite request of my husband and is a frequent choice for our Sunday dinners. Enjoy!
Trade Secrets: I haven’t made any ingredient/flavor changes to this recipe but I do two things differently than my mom. 1) I use oven-ready lasagna noodles. I discovered these a year or so ago, I’m sure eons after the rest of you, and I can’t believe I ever went to the trouble to boil my lasagna noodles beforehand. These are magical – no pre-boiling required, you just layer the dry lasagna noodles like you would normally and they cook while the lasagna is baking. I swear by the Barilla or American Beauty brand. I can’t even tell a difference when using the oven ready lasagna noodles versus cooking regular lasagna noodles beforehand. Perhaps when I don’t have three children ages three and under running afoot, I will go back to the traditional boil beforehand noodles, but for now, these babies make me very, very happy. 2) My mom always used just two layers of noodles. Because I am a carbaholic and can’t get enough pasta in my diet, I use 3 layers of lasagna noodles and just spread the other ingredients a bit thinner so that I have more noodles in the dish.
As a sidenote, as I have made mention several times before, I never use pre-grated cheese if I want it to melt beautifully. I always grate it myself. If you want to know why, I’ll have my husband email you with the details of the substance they add to pre-grated cheese to prevent clumping but inhibits the melting factor somewhat. He does, after all, work for a cheese company and is an expert. (Ok, so he has a desk job in some remote part of the factory and his human resource job involves no component of the cheese-making process, but still, he knows what he’s talking about. I promise.)
- 1 package oven-ready lasagna noodles
- 1 to 1 ½ pounds ground beef
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 28-ounce can tomatoes (undrained)
- 2 6-ounce cans tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 ½ teaspoons dried basil
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 container (15 ounce) ricotta cheese
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tablespoon parsley flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- Cook ground beef and onion, drain. Stir in tomatoes (undrained), tomato paste, sugar, 2 teaspoons of the basil and pepper. Bring to boil then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 20-30 minutes. In a small bowl blend ricotta, egg, parsley, 1/2 teaspoon dried basil, parmesan cheese and ½ teaspoon salt. Put a layer of noodles in a 9 X 13 pan, a layer of meat sauce, layer of ricotta mixture and a layer of the cheese then repeat all the layers twice more. Cover with foil. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Uncover, bake 20 minutes more. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.
- *Freezable Meal: Prepare recipe right up until the baking step and then cover with a double layer of aluminum foil. Freeze. Thaw in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days. To bake, increase baking time to about 40 minutes covered and 20 minutes uncovered.If baking from frozen, bake covered for 1 hour and 30 minutes, uncover and bake 30 minutes longer.