Is there anything better than smelling lasagna and garlic bread cooking? I love Italian food and lasagna is the perfect comfort food for me. Although I like to get started in the morning and let the meat sauce hang out, simmering away on the back burner, all you really need is about 1 hour to bring the flavours together.
I go traditional for the base flavours, onions, green peppers, mushrooms, bay leaves and garlic. Adding tomato paste and sauce. You can use canned whole tomatoes and crush with a wooden spoon or use tomato sauce, it’s really up to you.
Years ago, I started adding mild Italian sausage meat to the ground beef and over the years began experimenting with different types of sausage. What I now use depends on the day I am making it. Hot or mild Italian, sometimes a bit of both, pork with garlic and red wine, Italian with fennel and garlic………..so many choices but the the combination of hamburger and sausage does add something delicious to the final dish.
The seasonings have undergone some changes too. Now part of my go to flavours that I don’t ever leave out are balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, sugar and nutmeg combined with the more conventional thyme, basil and oregano.
There are so many choices when it comes to the lasagna noodles. White, whole wheat, home-made, no cook. It’s really up to you which pasta you use.
A couple tips to save time and effort.
1. If using homed-made pasta just roll out and layer in the dish, no need to pre-cook, the oven does the job for you.
2. If using store bought lasagna noodles lay the noodles in a large pan and cover with boiling water and let sit for 15 minutes. Then just drain and wipe dry, the pasta is partially cooked and will be just right when the lasagne comes out of the oven.
I've stayed true to he cheeses I started with. How can parmesan, mozzarella and monterey jack cheeses ever be wrong? If I have extra time I make my own ricotta but often I just pick up a good quality ricotta at the grocery store.
Don’t wait for a crowd to make my version of Italian lasagna. This recipe makes 3 casseroles that serve 4 generous portions each. Of course, use into size casserole dish that works for you and freezes really well.
For a a quick weeknight supper. Thaw overnight and reheat in a 350°F oven for 30-40 minutes. Make a caesar salad and some garlic bread while the lasagna is in the oven and you have a great Italian meal.
Although it feels like homemade lasagna is time consuming it can save you both time and money. My homemade lasagna costs about $40.00 and a similar style costs approximately $65.00 at the local Italian store.
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Prep Time: 20 minutes + Cooking Time
Serves: 12 (1large or 3 small)
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 lb group beef
6 oz Italian sausage meat (hot, mild, garlic)
1 onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 Tbsp oregano
1 Tbsp basil
1 Tbsp thyme
1 tsp cayenne pepper
pinch red pepper flakes
6 oz tomato paste
pinch fresh ground nutmeg
1 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 28 oz can whole tomatoes
4 bay leaves
2 cups ricotta cheese
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
2 cups grated monterey jack cheese
2 cups grated parmesan cheese
Parsley, finely chopped (optional)
Heat a large dutch oven & add oil, when hot add hamburger & sausage, saute´ until golden brown. Drain fat and set aside.
Add 1 Tbsp of the drained fat back to the pot and heat. Add onions and saute´ until translucent about 3 minutes. Add peppers and cook, stirring occasionally for 2-3 minutes, add mushrooms and cook until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add oregano, basil, thyme, cayenne, red pepper flakes and cook stirring for 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and cook until brickish red colour about 1 minute. Add the canned tomatoes breaking them up with the back of a wooden spoon. Return the meat to the pot and add sugar, nutmeg, Worcestershire sauce, balsamic vinegar and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, lower heat & simmer with the lid on, for at least 1 hour, remove bay leaves before assembling the lasagne.
Preheat Oven to 350° F while you assemble the lasagna.
If you are using dry lasagna noodles place in a large rimmed pan and cover with boiling water for about 15 minutes, until they are pliable. Drain water and pat noodles dry.
If you are using fresh made pasta you don't need to pre-cook the noodles.
Stir ricotta cheese into the meat sauce
Mix mozzarella and monterey jack cheese together.
On the bottom of casserole dish place a bit of the sauce to keep the noodles from sticking. Layer noodles, top with sauce, parmesan and mozzarella & monterey jack cheese. Repeat these layers ending with a cheese layer.
Place lasagna on a cookie sheet in the oven and cook for about 40 - 45 minutes. The cheese should be bubbling and golden brown. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving. Top with chopped parsley before serving.
Trish is the top spoon at