A few weeks ago, I decided it was time to step up my game, and attempt one of the real cooking staples: lasagna. I feel like being able to throw together a lasagna totally from scratch makes you legit.
Remember that episode of Friends (“The One With The Sonogram at the End”, if you wanna get specific) where Monica’s parents are coming over and she makes lasagna to impress them, but then Rachel realizes she lost her engagement ring IN the lasagna so they have to destroy it to find it? And Monica was devastated because it was so much work, and because she knew her mom wouldn’t be impressed but whatever non-lasagna alternative she threw together? That’s probably where I got it from – most of my life views came from Friends.
Anyway, so I’ve always put homemade lasagna on a pedestal and been too intimidated to attempt it, but I decided it was time to take the plunge. So I scoured the internet for the perfect recipe to work from, and came across “World’s Best Lasagna” from AllRecipes. Recipe titles don’t lie, right? In this case, recipe titles and 8,400 reviewers don’t lie. At all. This lasagna took up the better part of my Sunday, but it was so worth the sacrifice.
And really, it’s not all that hard to make. It’s just time-consuming. I ended up doubling the recipe because it doesn’t add that much more effort to the already-lengthy process, but you end up with a bonus lasagna for the freezer.
First, you brown the meat with onions and garlic in a dutch oven (or any heavy, ginormous pot you have). Then, you dump in all the tomatoes/pasta/sauce/seasonings, etc., and fill that pot to the BRIM, so it spatters all over your stovetop and annoys your husband who has to clean up after you.
Cover it, and let it simmer and smell delicious and torture you for, like, a lifetime.
After an eternity, you assemble your lasagna: sauce, noodles, cheese, more cheese, repeat. I forgot to document this part because I was too frantic that it was already 6:00 and I was starving after being tortured by deliciousness all afternoon and it still had to bake for an hour.
Sidenote: Notice there was no step for “boil the noodles.” I don’t know if there’s some magical benefit to old-fashioned lasagna noodles vs. the no-boil, oven-ready kind, but in my book, skipping a step always wins. Please enlighten me if there’s some reason I should use regular noodles instead!
Once you’re all layered up, pop it in the oven for 50 minutes, make some garlic bread, and then finally devour it. You won’t even feel bad afterwards; you’ll just be blissfully full and warm and cozy.
Adapted from AllRecipes
- 1 lb. sweet Italian sausage
- 1 lb. lean ground beef
- 1/2 cup minced onion
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
- 2 (6 oz) cans tomato paste
- 2 (8 oz) cans tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tbsp. white sugar
- 1.5 tsp. dried basil
- 1/4 tsp. fennel seeds
- 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
- 1 tbsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- 4 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
- 12 no-boil lasagna noodles
- 16 oz. ricotta cheese
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 3/4 lb. mozzarella cheese, sliced
- 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
In a dutch oven (or large, heavy-bottomed pot), cook meat, onion, and garlic over medium heat until well-browned. Drain the grease if you need to.
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. Cover and let simmer for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese with egg, remaining parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Assemble the lasagna: spread roughly 1.5 – 2 cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish. Arrange 6 noodles lengthwise over meat sauce. Spread half of the ricotta cheese mixture on top. Then, 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 (make sure the foil doesn’t touch the cheese, or spray with cooking spray to prevent sticking).
Bake, covered, for 25 minutes. Remove foil, and bake for another 25 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes (or as long as you can muster) before serving.