Update 6/2015: Wow, this recipe has been on my site for seven years. The fact that I’m still making it regularly today means you know it’s a keeper. I’ve updated the truly terrible original photos and added some additional notes in the recipe to track how I’ve simplified and changed it (just slightly) over the years. I hope you love this one! It’s a family favorite (as in, I’d be disowned if I stopped making it).
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. Using no-boil lasagna noodles speeds up the whole throwing-together process but overall, this lasagna is easy peasy. The simple sauce simmers while you whip together the creamy filling and all the flavors blend into one of our favorite lasagnas of all time. Enjoy!
A Few Notes: I do a couple things differently than my mom. 1) I use oven-ready lasagna noodles although you can definitely use regular lasagna noodles – boil them for a couple minutes less than the package directions so they don’t soften too much while baking. For no-boil noodles, I use the Barilla or Target Whole Wheat brands. I personally don’t think I’ll ever revert back to the lasagna noodles that need to be boiled. Whether that makes me inherently lazy or not, I’m not sure, but either way, no-boil lasagna noodles are where it’s at. 2) My mom always used just two layers of noodles but I firmly believe a good lasagna needs at least three layers of noodles. So. Three layers of noodles it is.
I use the Barilla or Target (whole wheat) brand of no-boil lasagna noodles with good success. You can certainly use regular lasagna noodles; boil them for 1-2 minutes less time than the package directions so they don't soften too much while baking.
I've recently updated (June 2015) some aspects of the recipe to reflect how I've changed it slightly over the years and to simplify the directions a bit. If you love the older version - the only recent changes are that I use crushed tomatoes instead of diced tomatoes (keep them undrained if using diced) and I've cut down the tomato paste to make the lasagna a bit more saucy (the original recipe called for 12 ounces of tomato paste). Also, I know it's not traditional, but I usually use half ricotta cheese and half cottage cheese. It helps the filling stay creamier and not as dry - I use a cup of each when doing that.
- 1 pound lean ground beef or ground turkey
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 6-ounce can tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 container (15-ounce) ricotta cheese or a combination of ricotta and cottage cheese (see note above)
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 tablespoon parsley flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- 4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 9 no-boil lasagna noodles (see note above)
- For the sauce, in a large, 12-inch nonstick skillet, cook the ground meat and onion until the meat is cooked through. Drain any excess grease. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, dried basil, salt and pepper. Simmer the sauce for 20 minutes.
- For the filling, in a medium bowl mix the ricotta, egg, basil, parsley, salt, and Parmesan cheese.
- To assemble the lasagna, lightly grease a 9X13-inch baking pan. Spread 1/2 cup or so of the sauce over the bottom into a thin layer. Layer as follows: 3 noodles, red sauce, creamy filling, mozzarella, 3 noodles, red sauce, creamy filling, mozzarella, 3 noodles, red sauce, remaining mozzarella. (Basically, all layers - the noodles, red sauce, mozzarella - are split into three layers and the creamy filling is divided among two layers.)
- Cover with greased foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Uncover, bake 20-30 minutes more until hot and bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.
- *Freezable Meal: Prepare recipe right up until the baking step and then cover with a double layer of lightly greased 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 30-40 minutes longer.
Recipe Source: adapted slightly from my mom, Michel W.