I made my first ever lasagna from scratch when I was 18. I used the recipe from the Joy of Cooking, and I followed it to the letter. It turned out perfectly. Since then I have made many a lasagna, in many variations, and I no longer need a recipe to make it. But whenever I make it, I always have this little mantra in my head. SAUCE, NOODLES, CHEESE. That’s the order you build a lasagna. (In my kitchen, at least) The Joy of Cooking left a profound lasagna impression on me!
Pretty much everyone is a fan of lasagna. All those layers of sauce, pasta and gooey cheese in one hearty dish make it a universal favourite. I love the versatility of lasagna There are endless ways to make it. Here is my basic lasagna with tomato meat sauce. You can use lean ground beef, turkey, chicken, veal or pork. I’m using hot Italian sausage meat.
BTW, lasagna is the easiest dish to use home made pasta because there is no cutting or shaping, and the sheets of dough are not required to be all nice & even. If you want to make your own, I just happen to have a recipe for that coming soon. But you can also buy sheets of fresh pasta, or just use the dried stuff. It will be delicious no matter what!
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2-3 cloves garlic, crushed or finely minced
- 1 lb lean ground meat
- 1 14 oz can diced tomatoes, with liquid
- 1 5.5 oz can tomato paste
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tbsp dried basil
- 1 tsp hot red pepper flakes (but not if you are using hot Italian sausage meat, like me)
- salt & freshly ground pepper
- 12 lasagna noodles
- 2 cups ricotta cheese (one 500 gram tub)
- 2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cups freshly grated parmesan cheese (Parmigiano-Reggiano is the very best)
Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add oil to the pan, then chopped onion & garlic. Turn heat down to medium low and cook about 5 minutes until onions are softened. Turn heat back up to medium, & add ground meat to the pan breaking up with a spoon and brown completely. If there is a lot of fat, drain.
Add tomatoes with liquid, & spices. Stir to combine, add tomato paste & combine.
Cover, turn heat to low and let simmer for 15 minutes. (We want a really saucy sauce because we aren’t pre-cooking the noodles)
Pre heat oven to 350 degrees
In a 9′ x 13′ roasting pan, put a layer of sauce. Add a layer of noodles, fresh or dried, to cover. Spread ricotta cheese over noodles evenly. Add a layer of sauce, then noodles again, then your mozzarella cheese, one more layer of sauce, and sprinkle the top with the parmesan cheese.
Put pan onto a baking sheet on middle rack of oven. Bake for 60 minutes or until bubbly and golden and noodles are fork tender.
Let the lasagna sit on counter top for 10 minutes so that you can easily slice into squares.
Left over lasagna freezes really well. Take out of the freezer the night before & let it defrost in the fridge. When you get home, pop it in the oven for a 1/2 hour @ 400 degrees, and dinner is done!