Classic Lasagna

baked 3Lasagna has been a favorite of mine since childhood. My brother, sister, and I LOVED my mom’s lasagna growing up. This is my mom’s lasagna that has been adjusted just a teeny bit.

mealI have made this lasagna for everything from weeknight meals at home to family holiday meals and even for a wedding I catered last fall. This is a great recipe to divide into smaller serving pans to freeze for future use. I have often pulled out a pan of lasagna to give to a family that has just had a baby or surgery or otherwise needs a meal. It is also nice for personal use when I know I have a busy week and don’t have time to cook something fresh. Add some fresh bread or bread sticks and a salad to make it extra special.

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Classic Lasagna

*The recipe below is for one large 10×15 pan or three 8×8 or 9×9 pans or a combination of one 9×13 and an 8×8 or 9×9. I like to make the smaller pans for freezing for future use or to give away.

*If you prefer a less meaty lasagna, you could easily decrease the meats to 1/2 pound each or less.

tomatoes

If I am blessed to have some of my mom’s home canned tomatoes, I use those. If not, I use canned crushed tomatoes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground Italian sausage
  • 1 medium-large onion, minced
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh or jarred minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon or more of each: salt, pepper, oregano, basil, Italian seasoning, fennel seed (I taste and add more as I go if needed)
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes or 1 quart of home canned tomatoes
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • approximately 1/2-1 cup water
  • (optional) 1 tablespoon sugar (I find it cuts the acid taste of the tomatoes)
  • approximately 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • approximately 1/2 cup cottage cheese (you could also use ricotta)
  • approximately 2 and 1/2 cups (15 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese
  • one pound lasagna noodles (I do not recommend the oven-ready ones for best taste and texture)

Directions:

  1. Brown the ground beef and sausage in a large deep skillet on medium high with the minced onion and garlic and spices.
  2. Once the meat is browned, drain any excess fat if needed. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato paste. I use a little water to rinse out the tomato cans and add that to the sauce. The water helps thin the sauce just a little. Turn the heat down to low, cover the skillet and let it simmer for 20 minutes or more. (If I have the time, I will let it simmer for an hour or more to develop the flavors further, but I have also used the sauce almost immediately, and it has still tasted good.)sauce
  3. While the sauce simmers, cook the lasagna noodles according to package directions. Once the noodles are cooked, I rinse them with cold water to stop the cooking process. I then fill the pot with enough cool water to cover the noodles, so they don’t dry out or stick together as I assemble the lasagna.
  4. Once the sauce and noodles are cooked, assemble the lasagna in whatever size pan(s) you are using. I start with a small scoop of sauce on the bottom of the pan–just a thin layer. Next, cover the bottom of the pan with noodles slightly overlapping. (Trim noodles with kitchen scissors if needed to fit.) I then put an appropriate portion of sauce over the noodles followed by dollops of cottage cheese, a few sprinkles of parmesan cheese, and a portion of the mozzarella cheese. I repeat this process once with noodles, sauce, parmesan, cottage cheese, and mozzarella. For the top, I layer noodles, sauce, parmesan cheese, and mozzarella cheese (no cottage cheese on top).
  5. If not baking immediately, you can cover and refrigerate for 1-2 days or freeze for a longer period of time.
  6. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 30-45 minutes until heated through, bubbly, and cheese is melted. Sometimes the center of the lasagna takes a while to heat through, especially in a large pan. You can continue baking or finish heating in the microwave. If you like the top of the lasagna to be a little browned, turn on your broiler for a few minutes to brown the cheese. If possible, thaw frozen lasagna before baking. If baking directly from frozen, you should decrease the oven temperature and increase the baking time. baked 1

Source: Adapted from my mom

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