Sunday, October 2, 2011

Hearty Lasagna - Caity

When I call it hearty lasagna, I mean it. You eat 1-2 slices and you are stuffed. The recipe calls for 1 lb of ground beef and 1 lb of spicy italian sausage. That's 2 lbs of meat and it is sooooooo goooooooooood! If the idea of 2 lbs of meat freaked you out, don't worry. There is also a ton of tomato, basil, italian parsley and cheese. If you are the mood for a seriously delicious meal that will really stick to your ribs, make this lasagna. 

This recipe is adapted from the Pioneer Woman's cookbook "Pioneer Woman Cooks". It makes 1 pan which you can freeze before cooking and cook later or, as I like to do, cook it, refrigerate it (so it firms up to make cutting slices easier), wrap them individually and freeze them. I can't tell you how excited I get when a couple of weeks (or days) later, I open the freezer and find lasagna. You'd think I found money in the freezer but no, just an individually wrapped portion of happiness! Enjoy! 

what you'll need: 

1 Tbsp. olive oil
10 oz. of lasagna noodles
4 cups of grated mozzarella cheese
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. of spicy breakfast sausage (sometimes I buy Italian sausage depending on the grocery store)
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2-14.5 oz cans whole tomatoes 
2-6 oz. cans of tomato paste
10-12 basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
3 cups of low-fat ricotta 
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat the oven to 350 F. 

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the olive oil to the water. This helps the noodles from sticking together too much when you strain them later. Cook the lasagna noodles according to the package directions until al dente. Strain the noodles and lay them flat on a piece of aluminum foil. 

In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté the garlic, ground beef and sausage until brown and cooked through. Drain off any excess fat in the pan. 

Add the whole tomatoes with their juice, tomato paste, 1/2 tsp. salt and freshly ground black pepper to the meat mixture. Stir together and simmer over low heat, uncovered for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sometimes I don't wait the full 45 minutes because I'm starving and want to eat ASAP. Try to let it sit for at least 15 minutes while you get everything else ready.  

Cut the basil into chiffonade (aka little strips) by stacking them on top of each other, rolling them all up and cutting straight across. 

Finely chop the parsley. Add half of the herbs to the meat mixture and stir together. 

In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, eggs, 1/2 cup of the parmesan cheese and the rest of the herbs together. Stir until mixed. 

Now it's lasagna time! 

Lay four lasagna noodles in the bottom of a rectangular baking ban. They should overlap slightly. My pan is longer so I use a fifth noodle to get the end of the pan. 

Spoon half of the ricotta cheese mixture over the noodles. Spread evenly. 

Sprinkle half of the mozzarella cheese on top of the ricotta mixture. 

Spoon half of the meat mixture on top of the mozzarella. Spread evenly. Be careful not to disrupt the layers below! 

Repeat the layers of the noodles, ricotta, mozzarella and meat mixture. Top off the whole lasagna with the remaining 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese over the top. 

Check out those layers! I'm hungry! 

Bake for 35-45 minutes until the lasagna is hot and bubbly. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving otherwise you will burn the crap out of your mouth and won't be able to taste your delicious lasagna.

If you want to freeze the remaining pieces, refrigerate the whole pan over night. This makes it easier to cut the lasagna into pieces. Then wrap each piece individually in cling wrap and freeze. Unwrap and microwave when you are hungry again!  

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