The third and final part of my Day of Cooking posts (previously: parts 1 & 2). I wanted to make a Lasagna, one of Ryan’s favorite dishes. I’ve never made one, and I used a recipe a friend uses and said is a real crowd pleaser: World’s Best Lasagna.
World’s Best Lasagna
* 1 pound sweet Italian sausage
* 3/4 pound lean ground beef
* 1/2 cup minced onion
* 2 cloves garlic, crushed
* 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
* 2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
* 2 (6.5 ounce) cans canned tomato sauce
* 1/2 cup water
* 2 tablespoons white sugar
* 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
* 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
* 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
* 1 tablespoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
* 4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
* 12 lasagna noodles
* 16 ounces ricotta cheese
* 1 egg
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 3/4 pound mozzarella cheese, sliced
* 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1. In a Dutch oven, cook sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until well browned. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water. Season with sugar, basil, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons parsley. Simmer, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain noodles, and rinse with cold water. In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese with egg, remaining parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
4. To assemble, spread 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish. Arrange 6 noodles lengthwise over meat sauce. Spread with one half of the ricotta cheese mixture. Top with a third of mozzarella cheese slices. Spoon 1 1/2 cups meat sauce over mozzarella, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers, and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil: to prevent sticking, either spray foil with cooking spray, or make sure the foil does not touch the cheese.
5. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil, and bake an additional 25 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.
This recipe was long, but worth it. It was an excellent lasagna. I got a little worried, because it said to use 6 noodles for each layer, which felt like way too much to me, because only 3 fit in the pan, so it would have been a double layer. I used no-cook noodles, and I didn’t want them to be crunchy by being on top of each other. I decided to use 4 per layer, which had just a slight overlap. Then, at the end I had enough noodles and both sauces, so I did another layer. I was terribly worried about it, but it came out perfect, with the same cook time.
(Side note: Has anyone ever found a 6.5 ounce can of tomato sauce? The store I went to had dozens, and all were a standard 8 ounces. I used the extra 1.5 ounces in both cans.)
I also made simple homemade garlic toast. Take your favorite load of bread (I used thin brick oven white bread) and butter both sides. (Place all slices on an ungreased cookie sheet.) Lightly sprinkle each side with garlic salt and parmesan cheese. Cut in half diagonally before putting in the oven. The cook time can vary from 325 to 425, if you want to stick them in with something else you’re cooking. Just keep an eye on them and flip them. The bottoms will get toasted before the tops do. Leave in until your desired level of crispness, which for us is about 15 minutes, 10 on the first side, 5 on the second. These taste good on their own, and even better dipped in a tomato based pasta sauce from your main course.
I forgot to take a photo of the Lasagna after it came out, but do have one from before, which is basically a big mess of cheese:
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