Wednesday, September 5, 2012

first go at lasagna

I've never made lasagna before a couple weeks ago. It intimidated me and I'm not sure why. I got a hankering for it, so I gathered some courage and got to it. I have to say, not as hard as I thought, but certainly a labor of love! Definitely a process!

It took a bit more time that I anticipated. I'm sure part of that is because it was my first time and I've not yet perfected my methods. I made the rolled version, rolling the noodles instead of layering them, so it would be easier for Steven and I to take for lunches.

lasagna rolls (makes 2 pans)
1 box of 24 lasagna noodles
for the sauce:
4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 lb lean ground beef
1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion
2 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
Salt and pepper, to taste
for the filling: 
1 15 oz container ricotta cheese
1 large egg
1/3 cup fresh flat leaf parsley (italian parsley, its about 1 small handful), chopped
3 cups freshly grated mozzarella cheese, divided
1 1/3 cup freshly, finely grated parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 cup freshly, finely grated romano cheese
2-3 Tbsp milk or water
Salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a large skillet. Add the chopped onion and cook till it it's soft and transparent. Add your ground beef to the pan, stirring occasionally and breaking up the meat until nicely browned. 

Transfer the beef and onoins into a food processor or blender, straining the grease as you go. Pulse it a few times until your beef is ground into smaller pieces. 

Put the minced garlic into the warm skillet and allow it to cook down a bit before adding your beef mixture back into the pan. Then add the crushed tomatoes, basil, oregano and another tablespoon of olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste, then cover and reduce to low heat.

Cook the lasagna noodles to al dente in a large pot with a bit of salt and 2 tablespoon olive oil. USe the cook time indicated on your package. Once the noodles are done, drain and immediately place the noodles in a single layer on waxed paper or cookie sheets.

While the noodles are cooking, prepare the cheese mixture. Combine the ricotta cheese, egg, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the parsley. Add in 2 cups of the mozzarella, 2/3 cup of the parmesan and the romano cheese, stir mixture until well combined. If the mixture seems a little thick, add a bit of milk or water to it. Add a tablespoon at a time until it's easily spreadable, but still thick.
Give the sauce a stir and add 1/3 cup to a 13x9 inch baking dish, making a thin layer across the whole bottom. Spread 3-4 tablespoons of the cheese mixture evenly onto each cooked lasagna noodle, then spread 1 heaping tablespoon meat sauce.  Roll noodles up jellyroll style and arrange seam side down in baking dish.  Cover rolled noodles with remaining meat sauce and sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese and 1/3 cup parmesan cheese evenly over roll ups. If you have any leftover ricotta mixture you can dot that on the top. I even added a few fresh mozzarella pearls to the top of mine. Repeat this process for the second pan. Or build them together so you don't run out of anything

Tent the lasagna with foil (to prevent the cheese from over-browning) and bake for 35 minutes in preheated oven.

You might not use all the noodles. A couple of mine broke and I used a 7x11 pan for the second batch anyway. Just save the broken noodles to sop up the extra sauce - little snack while you're waiting on dinner! :) I fit 12 noodles in the 9x13 and 8 into the 7x11. I probably could have used a bit more ricotta, but the other cheeses filled it out nicely and the milk gave me the consistency I needed. If you want to cut this in half, I'd leave the ricotta alone and just halve the other cheeses.

I covered one pan with plastic wrap and foil and threw it in the freezer. Just let it thaw in the fridge overnight before baking. You might need a few extra minutes in the oven since the pan will be cold.

I have to add a cheat... Add 2-3 jars of pasta sauce to the meat and onions instead of making your own with the cans of tomatoes and herbs. A few less ingredients and a few less minutes! You can also make this meatless, just add some volume to the sauce with some fresh tomatoes and other veggies.

So yummy! And pulling that second pan out of the freezer a couple weeks later was super awesome. I wish I had a bit more freezer space so I could do that more often.

Have you ever made lasagna? Do you have an old secret family recipe? This is definitely one of our new favorites and I'll be making it again soon!

xoxo, christa


  1. Oh I love me some lasagna! My mom has a "no cook" noodle recipe that you basically don't have to pre-cook the noodles before baking. That was the one we made most often when I was growing up! Your recipe sounds good too, I might have to try it! Yum!

  2. Oh man, that looks unbelievably delicious.

  3. Found you from my blog...I saw you joined and I checked out your lil cute blog. I love it! I love lasagna too. It's not as hard as i thought it would be the first time i made it (three months ago...haha.) Looks yummy!


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