So last week I showed you how we make our Sauce and Meatballs. This week I am going to show you how we put them to use in our Lasagna. This post is going to talk about a few different ways to put your Lasagna together for a couple of reasons. First, I don’t exactly make my Lasagna the same way that Mom has in the Family Cookbook. She wrote that recipe after she had changed the way she made it to accommodate my sister – who did not like meat in her lasagna. I make it with the meat in the lasagna – but even then there is the longer, traditional method and then the quicky shortcut method.
So I will start with Mom’s recipe.
I use a lot of the components in this with some additions along the way.
The first thing I do is put together the sauce and meat component of the lasagna. The long way is to make the homemade sauce and meatballs that I posted last week. You will use both the meatballs and the sausage in your lasagna. Again, if your family is anything like mine, double the recipe because they are going to want a plate of sauce and meatballs with some italian bread as soon as you take it off of the stove.
The quick method is to just make a meat sauce. For this I brown 1-2 pounds of ground beef in olive oil.
Then I add a tomato sauce – go organic if you can – better flavor and better for you.
Then I doctor it up. I add salt, LOTS of garlic powder, LOTS of basil and LOTS of oregano. I also add a bit of sugar – 1-2 tablespoons – to make up for the fact that I will not be cooking this very long.
Then let it cook for the flavors to meld.
While the sauce is cooking I start the water for the noodles – adding a good amount of olive oil to the water so that the noodles do not stick together while cooking.
While the water is heating I put together my ricotta – beating the 5 eggs first and then adding them to my 3 pounds of ricotta.
Now I stop to take a drink of the wine my loving husband poured for me because he is so happy I am making lasagna. I’m really not a wine drinker, but Red Cat is a sweet red wine so I’m okay with that one.
Once the noodles are cooked, I gather everything around the pan and get ready to put it all together.
I use the turkey roasting pan for this because it is big enough to hold a big lasagna without it going over the sides. Which brings me to the quantity of noodles. Mom says her recipe is for 2 pounds of noodles. I find the fillings only work for one pound of noodles. Maybe she made thinner layers or maybe it is because she only uses the cheese layers so she makes more layers, but I can never stretch out these fillings to use 2 pounds of noodles. So my suggestion is, if you are doing the meat version, is to have two pounds of noodles but only cook one pound and be prepared to cook more if you find you need them. What I will show you only used one pound of noodles.
If you are doing the long method, you will have the added step of taking the meatballs and sausages out of the sauce and slicing them before you start putting it all together.
Start by putting sauce on the bottom of your pan so the noodles don’t stick.
Then lay out your noodles.
We are big fans – well – I am a big fan of pine nuts in my lasagna. My family tolerates them. I agree with Mom – its just not lasagna without the pine nuts. So make sure you have some handy and at least try them in a corner of your lasagna to see if they work for you.
Okay, now you add a layer of the ricotta over the noodles – and then the pine nuts.
Then you sprinkle a good amount of shredded mozzarella and parmesan cheese over the ricotta layer.
Next – in my lasagna – is the meat sauce in the short version or the sauce and sliced meat in the longer version. If your sauce is thick it takes some finesse to spread this out over the cheese layer and you may need to spoon it on and then gently, with the back of the spoon, spread it out. But I still usually do the sauce layer before the meat layer. I am thinking of trying it meat first then sauce and seeing if the sauce spread is easier.
You keep layering in this pattern – noodles, ricotta, pine nuts, mozzarella, parmesan, meat and sauce until it is finished. The last layer should be noodles then sauce then mozzarella and parmesan. Pop it in the over for 45 minutes and then you have . . .
Normally I would have a picture of it cut on the plate right here – but my camera batteries decided to die and there were NO AA batteries to be found in the house and the battery charger even went into hiding. Sigh. I will try to make this again next month and I will add a picture to this post then so that anyone looking later will have the final picture.
I can tell you that the family likes the short cut lasagna – but they lose their minds over the longer version. If you have the time, the taste is just better. If you don’t, the shorter version is good too. And if you don’t like meat in your lasagna, follow Mom’s recipe.
Hope you enjoy.