Ah, homemade lasagna. Is there anything much better? Lasagna noodles piled high and layered full of three kinds of cheese to go along with the perfect blend of meaty and zesty, tomato pasta sauce all loaded with herbs. Lasagna is Italian comfort food at it’s best. To press your fork through all those layers of pasta as the sauce and cheese glides down the slides then it’s all lifted so longingly into your mouth. Bite, after bite, after bite. Each one savored and appreciated. One word, YUM! This lasagna does take a bit of time and effort, but it is most definitely worth it. With flavors this good you’ll have have a hard time stopping at one serving of this tempting lasagna.
I considered making this recipe to be with fresh herbs as I had fresh basil, oregano and parsley on hand and wanted to use it up, but I figured most of you probably don’t keep fresh herbs on hand so I went the simpler version by using dried herbs. If you’d like to, you very well could replace some of the dried herbs with fresh (I’d say triple the amounts if using fresh in place of dried). Also, feel free to add more cheese if you’d like, because really can you have too much cheese when it comes to lasagna =)? For a quick side to serve along this lasagna I’d recommend steamed broccoli with a touch of browned butter and Mizithra cheese or purchase a salad blend and top it with fresh tomato slices and a creamy pesto salad dressing. Enjoy!
Yield: 12 servings
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 12 oz Italian sausage
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil , divided
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup finely chopped yellow onion
- 2 cloves garlic , finely minced
- 2 (29 oz) cans tomato puree
- 1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
- 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 Tbsp dried basil
- 2 tsp dried fennel seeds , crushed*
- 3/4 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp dried marjoram
- 16 oz lasagna noodles
- 15 oz part-skim Ricotta cheese
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 tsp dried parsley
- 16 oz whole milk mozzarella , shredded (4 cups)
- 2 oz Parmesan cheese , finely shredded (packed 1/2 cup)
- 2 oz Romano cheese , finely shredded (packed 1/2 cup), plus more for serving
Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large enameled cast iron pot over medium-high heat. Once oil is hot, crumble beef and sausage into pot, season lightly with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally until browned and cooked through. Remove from heat and drain into a large bowl lined with plenty of paper towels. Pour drained beef and sausage into a food processor and pulse mixture about 10 - 15 seconds until ground into small pieces, set aside.
Return pot to medium-high heat, add in remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil. Once oil is hot, add onion and saute until golden, about 2 - 3 minutes, adding garlic during the last 30 seconds of sauteing. Remove from heat and add tomato puree, tomato paste, sugar, basil, crushed fennel seeds, oregano, thyme, marjoram, then season with 1 tsp salt and more to taste and 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper. Return to heat and bring mixture to a simmer, then reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered 45 minutes - 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until sauce has reduced and thickened slightly.
Cook pasta to al dente according to directions listed on package (now is a good time to shred cheese). Drain pasta (do not rinse) and once cool enough to handle, align noodles in a single layer on sheets of wax paper (you can also hang some of them over the colander used to strain pasta). In a mixing bowl using a fork, blend together Ricotta cheese, egg and parsley, set aside. In a mixing bowl or large ziploc bag, toss together mozzarella, Parmesan and Romano cheese, set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. To assemble lasagna, evenly spread 1 cup ground beef pasta sauce into the bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Align 4 - 5** lasagna noodles over sauce. Spread 1/3 of the ricotta mixture over lasagna noodle layer (it will be a thin layer) then sprinkle 1/4 of the mozzarela cheese mixture into an even layer. Dollop and spread 1 1/2 cups pasta sauce evenly over cheese, then repeat this layering process 2 more times. Finish top with 1 more layer of 4 - 5 lasagna noodles, then spread 1/2 cup pasta sauce over top of noodles and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese mixture. Tent baking dish with foil (don't allow foil to touch cheese on top. Also if you may want to rest it on a baking sheet if it's looking very full in the baking dish to prevent it from spilling over) and bake in preheated oven 35 minutes, then remove foil and bake uncovered for 15 minutes. Serve warm garnished with additional Romano cheese and fresh parsley or basil if desired.
*To crush fennel seeds - pour them into a ziploc bag, seal bag and crush with the flat side of a meat mallet until well crushed.
**Count the lasagna noodles before assembling lasagna. I had 20 noodles so each layer was able to have 5 noodles, but if you only have 16 - 18 you will need to reduce some (or all) of the layers to 4 noodles.
Recipe Source: Cooking Classy