Sunshine! There’s sunshine today! Beautiful, bright, brilliant sunshine. Why am I so excited? Because for at least the past week we’ve had either rain or heavy fog. Cold, grey days that seemed to just drag by. Now I’m not complaining about the rain, goodness knows we need it, but just for today I’m so happy to see the sun. And besides, an occasional rainy weekend is actually rather enjoyable. It always seems to make us slow down and relax instead of running around trying to do a week’s worth of errands. And, of course, on slow relaxing days like that I always find myself in the kitchen.
Sunday was the perfect day to get into the kitchen and make something that takes a little more time. Requires a little more patience. No rushing around. Just enjoying the process and anticipating the outcome. And what better recipe to make on a rainy Sunday than this lasagna. Layers and layers of pasta, ricotta, mozzarella, marinara and ground beef. Perfect lazy Sunday food. Now I’m certainly not Italian. In fact, I know that there is absolutely no Italian ancestry in my family. In the days before I started blogging, one of my long-time hobbies was genealogy. I’ve researched my family tree from here back to the mid-1600’s and I can say with absolute certainty that there is nothing remotely Italian in that lineage. But, wow, do I enjoy Italian food! So, not being Italian, I can’t guarantee that this lasagna is purely authentic, but I can guarantee you one thing – it’s dadgum good.
When I make lasagna I always like to make my own marinara sauce. If you want to take a shortcut, by all means please do so. There are some fine jarred marinara sauces on the market now and any one of them will work beautifully in this recipe. But, if you’re making your own, here’s how you start.
In a deep, heavy pan over medium high heat, saute onion, garlic, celery and parsley until the onion becomes translucent. Add tomatoes and tomato paste. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer partially covered for 20 minutes. Use a hand-held blender directly in the cooking pan to create a smooth sauce (If you don’t have a hand-held blender, you can transfer the sauce by small amounts to a blender or food processor and then returned to the pan). Add the basil, oregano, salt and pepper and cook for an additional 10 minutes.
I prefer to use San Marzano tomatoes for my Marinara sauce. And my favorite brand is Cento, but you use whatever you like.
(Note: the recipe I give you below makes about twice as much Marinara sauce as needed for the lasagna recipe. You can divide the recipe in half you want to, but I always make a big batch. The remainder can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days or frozen for up to three months.)
Cook 12 lasagna noodles according to the package directions. Drain well, rinse with cool water and just set them aside in a colander to drain while you proceed with the recipe.
Spray a large skillet with cooking spray and place over medium-high heat. Cook the ground beef until no pink remains. Drain the fat from the beef and return it to the skillet. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Stir one cup of Marinara sauce into the ground beef, mixing well. Set aside. (I don’t know what happened with that photo of the meat sauce. Yikes. I’ll do better next time.)
In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, egg, parsley, salt and pepper. Mix well.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Now all that’s left is just to assemble the lasagna:
Spray a 13×9 inch pan lightly with cooking spray. Spread 1 cup Marinara sauce in the bottom of the pan. First layer – 4 lasagna noodles, 1/3 of the ricotta mixture, 1/2 of the meat mixture, 1 cup Marinara sauce, 1 cup mozzarella cheese. Second layer – 4 lasagna noodles, 1/3 of the ricotta mixture, 1 ½ cups Marinara sauce. Third layer – 4 lasagna noodles, remaining ricotta mixture, remaining meat mixture, 1 cup marinara sauce, remaining mozzarella cheese. Top with Parmesan cheese.
Cover pan with foil and bake 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.
Other lasagna recipes you might enjoy from around the internet:
- Bolognese Lasagna from Educated Palate
- Personal Pan Lasagna from Leite’s Culinaria
- Spicy Kale Lasagna from Annie’s Eats
- Add a Pinch’s Eggplant Lasagna
What I was cooking…