Making lasagna is a labor of love. Although not all that difficult to prepare, it does involve several steps and is rather time consuming.
There are as many variations of this dish as there are original family recipes and of course, everyone thinks their family recipe is the best.
Unfortunately, I never thought to actually write down my mother’s recipe. I do remember that it wasn’t loaded with filling or drowned in sauce. We could taste the individual ingredients that seem to all come together in perfect harmony in each and every delicious bite. Lasagna has always been a part of our family’s Christmas tradition and this recipe is the taste that takes us back to those cherished memories.
Who is seated at the table is more important than what is on the table … unless it’s MOM’S lasagna.
- 1 pound sweet Italian sausages
- 1/2 pound ground beef
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup onions, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped
- 4 cups canned Italian-style tomatoes, undrained
- 2 (6-ounce) cans tomato paste
- 2 cups water
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 (1-pound) box lasagna noodles
- 4 cups ricotta
- 1 egg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 pound mozzarella cheese fresh (not the rubber ball)
- 3/4 cup fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
- Remove sausage casings, chop the meat.
- In a large pot saute onions and garlic in the olive oil until onions are soft. Add sausage and ground beef, cook on medium heat until well browned. (This sets the stage for lots of flavor). This should take 20 minutes.
- Add sugar, 1 tablespoon salt, basil, fennel, pepper and half of the parsley. Mix well.
- Add tomatoes, tomato paste and 2 cups water. If using whole tomatoes crush with wooden spoon, or just use crushed or diced. Stir until mixed together.
- Bring sauce to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer 45 minutes until thick and flavors blend.
- In a large pot bring water and 1 tablespoon salt to a boil for the noodles. Add lasagna 2-3 at a time and bring back to a boil for approx. 10 minutes. Drain.
- Place lasagna on a clean dish towel or paper towels to dry
- In a medium bowl, mix well the ricotta, egg, remaining parsley and salt.
- Assembly: Use a 13x9x2 inch baking dish.
- Ladle just enough sauce to keep the noodles from sticking, about 1 cup. Layer with 6 lasagna, lengthwise and overlapping.
- Spread with half of the ricotta filling.
- Top with 1/3 of the thinly sliced (or grated if you prefer) mozzarella. Remember to reserve 1/3 mozzarella for the top.
- Spoon 1 1/2 cups sauce to cover cheese. Sprinkle with parmesan.
- Repeat the layering starting with the noodles and ending with the sauce and parmesan.
- Cover tightly with foil. Bake at 375* 30 minutes. Remove the foil. Add the reserved mozzarella on top and continue baking for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Ahhh! the taste of home. This makes me nostalgic and hungry
Note** Cooling 15 minutes will give you a neater looking serving.
Lasagna is the perfect dish to make ahead of time. Bake, cool and refrigerate overnight. Now that it is completely cold store in freezer for up to 4 weeks. Before the day you want to bake it, place in refrigerator overnight to defrost. When it is completely defrosted, set out for 30 minutes, bake as directed above.