Lasagna is a hearty, stick to your ribs, comfort food. It’s also a great meal to make for your freezer. I found this recipe at All Recipes and I think it is simply the best I’ve ever had. It makes one 9 x 13 Pyrex dish of lasagna. It can easily feed a family of four for two meals. It can be time consuming to make so I quadruple this recipe and make three 9×13 pans and two 8×8 pans for the freezer. The next four times I have it I feel like a genius! Cheese is expensive, so I stock up on Kraft Italiano Cheese when it’s on sale and plan when I make it around the sales. This recipe also calls for the lasagna noodles that you cook ahead of time. I’ve made it with ready-made and the type you boil and I can taste no difference. Just be sure that ready-made noodles are completely covered with sauce.
World’s Best Lasagna
1 lb sweet Italian sausage
3/4 lb lean ground beef (when I make extra I use a combination of pork, veal and beef)
1/2 cup minced onion
2 cloves garlic
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
2 (6 oz) cans tomato paste
2 (6.5 oz) canned tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsps dried basil leaves
1/2 tsp fennel seeds (I am not a big fan of fennel, so I omit this)
1 tsp Italian Seasoning
1 tbsp salt (feel free to omit this as well, there is enough salt)
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
4 tbsps chopped fresh parsley
12 lasagna noodles
16 ounces ricotta cheese
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 lb mozzarella cheese, sliced (or pre-shredded)
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
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.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil (if not using ready made noodles). Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain noodles, and rinse with cold water. In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta with egg, remaining parsley and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
To assemble, spread 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce or enough to cover the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Arrange 6 noodles lengthwise over meat sauce. Spread with one half of the ricotta mixture. Top with a third of the mozzarella slices or shredded cheese. 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.
Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 25 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving. Serve with a baquette and a salad.
If freezing, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and cover with foil. Before placing in oven don’t forget to remove plastic wrap and cover again with the foil. I recommend thawing overnight and following baking instructions above. Keep in freezer for up to three months.