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How to make a fabulous lasagna for 12...

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Don't let the title scare you. One need not invite a dozen people over in order
to enjoy such a wonderful dish. But you'll want to share this meal, or you'll be eating it
for a week. Keep in mind, it freezes well!

Sure, you can grab a few noodles, a jar of sauce and some cheese. Heat and eat.
But not today. We're using the microwave only for the timer.

Step back to a place in time when people cooked. When they actually used spices
and simmered for more than ten minutes. Worth every bit of time it takes to make
this fabulous lasagna! Consider making only the sauce one evening to go with spaghetti
noodles.

This may not be your great grandmother's fabulous lasagna, it may not be authentic
to a recipe you prefer, but I enjoyed making it and hope to share it with others. If I have
omitted anything in error, please kindly bring it to my attention. I dislike typos and would
appreciate any assistance. But be nice. We're all in this together, you know. If you don't
have anything nice to say...

Please consider reading the entire Instructable before creating this dish. It is important
to understand a complete recipe in order to avoid potential downfalls of omitting a certain step.

Thank you for the inspiration and recipe, Allrecipes.com!

 
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Step 1: The shopping list...

Picture of The shopping list...
The meat base:

* 1 pound Italian sausage (I used mild)

* 3/4 pound lean ground beef (cheap hamburger = greasy lasagna, don't use it)
I realize the lighting makes the hamburger look pink. It was not.

* 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
* 2 cloves of minced garlic

The mix-ins: (In our shopping area, Hunts brand tomato products are the optimal choice)
Yes, a little fluctuation on the sizes is alright.

* 1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
* 2  6 ounce cans of tomato paste
* 2  6.5 ounce cans canned of tomato sauce
* 1/2 cup water

Sugar, spice, and everything nice:

* 2 tablespoons white sugar (Please see note on page 4 regarding sweetness)
* 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
* 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds

* 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Seasoning can be found on the spice aisle at your local grocery store, or you can make your own.
The seasoning is a pre-fab mix of different herbs. McCormick brand contains
marjoram, thyme, rosemary, savory, sage, oregano and basil.

* 1 Tablespoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
* 4 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley - divided  (use 2 Tbl. for the sauce, and 2 Tbl. for the cheese mixture)

Pasta, cheese for filling, and topping

* 12 lasagna noodles (Please see note on page 8 regarding noodle count)

* 16 ounces ricotta cheese (Don't be skimpy, get the good stuff, such as Polly-O brand)
* 1 egg
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 3/4 pound sliced or shredded mozzarella cheese
* 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (not the cheap stinky stuff)

Please note, my husband is a carnivore. Once in a while I prepare something for him besides noodles and salad.
Not everyone can live on rabbit food. You could certainly prepare this dish without meat, as there are many great
vegetarian meat crumbles you could substitute.

*TIP* Cottage cheese is not the same as Ricotta cheese.
Cottage is lumpy, made from curds, Ricotta is smooth, made from whey.

Step 2: Cook the meats...

Picture of Cook the meats...
In a large pot such as a Dutch oven, cook the hamburger, sausage, onions and
garlic at medium high until well done. No pink, people, make certain this is thoroughly cooked.

Shopping advice: If you do not have a Dutch oven, may I implore you to consider such a purchase?
They are not intended to boil things in, nor to cook on high heat, but for recipes exactly like this
one. Slow to heat over time. There are many brands to choose from, not limited to the following.
Better Homes and Gardens, Lodge, Tramontina, Le Creuset, etc.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dutch_oven

http://www.walmart.com/ip/Better-Homes-and-Gardens-Cast-Iron-6-Qt.-Covered-Dutch-Oven-Purple/14915167
(Great price, beautiful color!)

http://mikeshowalter.com/the-tramontina-dutch-oven-story

http://www.lodgemfg.com/lodge-enamel.asp

http://www.williams-sonoma.com/shop/cookware/dutch-ovens-braisers/

http://cookware.lecreuset.com/cookware/category_French-Ovens-&-Braisers_10151_-1_20002_10020




Step 3: Make sure you thoroughly cook the meat...

Picture of Make sure you thoroughly cook the meat...
That interesting looking gadget used to chop the beef while cooking?

You need one.
You want one.
And you know it.

It is called a Chop Stir, and worth every penny of the $4.00-$8.00 price range.
I bought mine before they became popular, so I'm from the four dollar group.
Not braggin'. Just sayin'. Get one.

Step 4: Add the tomato products and such...

Picture of Add the tomato products and such...
Once the meat is thoroughly cooked, you will need to add the following:

Stir in the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, water, sugar (see note below)
dried basil leaves, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning,  2 Tablespoons of parsley, the salt and pepper.

*TIP* I cannot stress enough, the importance of prepping one's herbs and spices before combining.
Cooks like myself with an easily distracted mind could easily forget whether the salt was added or not.
Did I? Didn't I? By preparing tiny dishes with the precise measurements, your recipe will be a success.
Not to mention, this provides a fun opportunity to hunt little containers for such at flea markets!

Sugar? In lasagna? This is where you make a decision. I personally found the lasagna to be sweet. Not sweet
as in sugary, or too sweet, but if you were to describe this sauce, sweet is the first thing that comes to mind.
Alter as you see fit. When I make this dish again, I will omit at least half the sugar.

Step 5: Sauce and spice, and everything nice...

Picture of Sauce and spice, and everything nice...
It is beginning to look, and smell absolutely wonderful!

Step 6: Time...

Picture of Time...
Allow your sauce to simmer, not boil, for 1 1/2 hours.Stir on occasion. This would be a good time to
preheat your oven to 375°.

I've always thought 11:11 was such a fun time, even better my lasagna started with this time.


Step 7: Bring water to a boil...

Picture of Bring water to a boil...
In a large pot, add salt to the water, bring to a boil.
Cover the pot to bring it to a boil faster.

Step 8: Count your lasagna noodles...

Picture of Count your lasagna noodles...
Though the original recipe called for but twelve noodles, hindsight tells me to cook
more. Heck, cook the entire box. While the lasagna was fabulously delicious, I feel as
though there was a great quantity of sauce. Though the excess could be sopped up with
a great toasted bread, I think one more layer of noodles would be splendid.

Step 9: Carefully place the noodles into the boiling water...

Picture of Carefully place the noodles into the boiling water...
Place the noodles into the boiling water. Don't cram them in, but
gently place them into the water, allowing them to slowly sink down.
I prefer to arrange them standing on their sides, that way you can
simply slide a knife, handle of a spoon, etc. between the noodles
now and then to keep them from sticking.

Step 10: Cook 8 to 10 minutes...

Picture of Cook 8 to 10 minutes...
Make certain your water is boiling before placing the noodles into the water, and
keep it boiling. If you must, place the noodles into the pot, cover and watch it. A covered
pot comes back to boil so much faster. Then remove the lid and cook as usual.

Typically, lasagna noodles require 8 to 10 minutes of cooking, but always check the
package just to be certain. After cooking time is complete, drain the noodles.

Step 11: Gather your ingredients for the cheese filling...

Picture of Gather your ingredients for the cheese filling...
If we can find Polly-O brand ricotta within 20 miles of our Podunk town in Oklahoma, you should
be able to as well. Sure, cottage cheese has been used in lasagna dishes for quite some time, but
please consider using the good stuff.

Gather your ingredients. See next step.

Step 12: Now we're cooking!

Picture of Now we're cooking!
Combine the ricotta cheese, egg, remaining 2 Tablespoons of parsley, and the salt in a mixing bowl big enough
to stir everything together well.

Step 13: Let's get this started, shall we?

Picture of Let's get this started, shall we?
Evenly spread 1 1/2 cups of sauce in the bottom of a large casserole dish, preferably at least 9 x 13.

Step 14: Meat sauce, noodles, cheese sauce, cheese.

Picture of Meat sauce, noodles, cheese sauce, cheese.
Depending on how many layers you wish to create and the number of noodles
you chose to cook, you can alter the following if desired.

Spread one half of the cheese mixture evenly over the noodles. Cover the cheese
mixture with 1/3 of the mozzarella cheese.

Step 15: Repeat after me...

Picture of Repeat after me...
Evenly, neatly, tidy. MMM!

Step 16: It's beginning to look a lot like dinner...

Picture of It's beginning to look a lot like dinner...
Spread 1 1/2 cups of the meat sauce over the existing layer. Spread carefully, you don't want to mix it.
Don't dump the sauce in the middle of the pan and try to spread it, or you will make a mess. Place even little
piles about the casserole and then spread each pile evenly, or place a long trail down the middle.

Step 17: Lay it on!

Picture of Lay it on!
Sprinkle 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese on top of the meat sauce.

Step 18: Spray it on!

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Spray the back side of a large sheet of aluminum foil with a non-stick cooking spray
to keep the glorious cheese from sticking to the foil while your dinner is baking.

Step 19: Bake 25 minutes covered with foil...

Picture of Bake 25 minutes covered with foil...
Set a timer for 25 minutes. Bake the lasagna (covered with foil) at 375° for 25 minutes.

Step 20: Bake 25 minutes uncovered...

Picture of Bake 25 minutes uncovered...
Remove foil, bake an additional 25 minutes. Keep an eye on the lasagna, as
oven temperatures fluctuate. You might find the edges a bit brown for your taste
if cooked the entire second 25 minutes.

Step 21: Ooh, la, and la!

Picture of Ooh, la, and la!
Remember, this is a hefty load of lasagna. Be careful when removing it from the oven.
Transport safely to a heat-proof surface. Gather the family to admire your skills
before you cut into the dish. Take pictures. Make audible sounds. Be proud.

Allow the lasagna to cool momentarily to avoid the infamous cheese string from
the serving dish to plate.

The best way to save leftovers is not to scoop it all out, but rather to leave it in
the pan, allow it to chill overnight. The next day, the cheese will have hardened
and the lasagna can now be cut into neat and tidy portions.

Step 22: Bon App�tit!

Picture of Bon App�tit!
You did it! And it was easy!

Bon apetite, and thank you for reading my Instructable. I hope you will consider making this wonderful lasagna.
babyk10 months ago

Hi, the last time I TRIED to make lasagna, it came out as one big glop on everyone's plate! Did I perhaps not let it sit long enough before I served it?

mikeasaurus3 years ago
mmm lasagna, my favourite!
WUVIE (author)  mikeasaurus3 years ago
Thanks, Mike! :-) I appreciate it!
caarntedd3 years ago
Awesome. My favourite.
WUVIE (author)  caarntedd3 years ago
Thank you, Caarntedd! :-)
jbailey73 years ago
Looks very tasty.
Lasagna is one of my family's favorite dishes. It's usually the first thing our kids ask me to make when we are all together. Many years ago my Aunt mentioned a recipe that did not require cooking the noodles. I decided to give it a try and have never cooked my noodles since. You don't need to buy a special brand or type of noodle to do this and no one has ever been able to tell the difference. It cuts out the cooking step, you just have to snap off a corner or two when layering.
I personally do not like my tomato based pasta sauces to be sweet so I add no sugar and actually add lemon juice to counter the sweetness of the tomato products (again, just personal preference). I've never used sausage chopped up into the sauce, I think I will try that with my next batch (Thanks for the idea). And thanks for the tip on the Chop Stir (yes I do need one, I do want one!!).
One last tip, I use sliced provolone as the top of each cheese layer, it helps when you are spreading on the next layer of sauce.
WUVIE (author)  jbailey73 years ago
Hi there!

Many thanks! I keep telling myself that I am going to try the 'no cook' method. You've convinced me!
sunshiine3 years ago
I am sending this link to my son! He LOVES lasagna! Thanks for sharing! Have a super day!
Sunshiine
WUVIE (author)  sunshiine3 years ago
Many thanks, Sunshiine!
mguer1333 years ago
You could also replace Ricotta by just using a béchamel sauce (butter flour and milk).
In this case, there would be no need to pre-cook the lasagna sheets as the béchamel sauce wood water down the pasta while cooking.
Just my two cents.
Mickaël
hammerpb3 years ago
I think on the first page onder the meat base, you meant to put 2 cloves of minced Garlic instead of onion. Nice looking lasagna BTW.
WUVIE (author)  hammerpb3 years ago
Indeed, thank you so much for letting me know. I've corrected it.
I appreciate your help! :-)
lemonie3 years ago

That really does look very good (hungry now)

L