Lasagna was the first real meal that I learned to make at around fourteen years old. As a tradition, I make lasagna every year for Christmas Eve dinner, but I also may make it if we are entertaining or as a support meal for others. It’s one of those dishes that tastes even better the next day, which is great because it usually yields plenty of leftovers.
I now make several versions of this recipe. It is really easy to tweak to your tastes. Use whatever ground meat you choose (this particular version used both ground beef and ground pork). Vegetarians can leave out the meat and add whatever vegetables they like. Sauces are also interchangeable: tomato, alfredo, etc. I once even made a version using a pumpkin sauce!
There are two things that I do to make this process a bit easier. 1) I use “no boil” lasagna noodles which allows me to skip that step of boiling the pasta first. 2) I use frozen spinach. Why? Because frozen spinach is “pre-shrunk” so you know how much that you are actually getting.
This recipe calls for three types of cheeses, because…well… is there really such a thing as too much cheese? I mentioned that I used both ground beef and pork. I usually settle on one type of meat but happened to have some ground pork in the freezer leftover from when I made 3-meat meatballs (using beef, pork, and veal). So I thought “Why not?”.
As for sauce, well my mom’s homemade pasta sauce is my favourite, but for the sake of time I used the next best thing (which isn’t really close to my mom’s sauce but it will do), Classico Spicy Red Pepper.
Once all the ingredients have been mixed and grouped together. The process of building the lasagna is quite simple. Because I am using “no boil” noodles, I start with a layer of sauce, then noodles, cheese, and sauce again, repeat one more time, top with sauce and cheese.
Once the lasagna is built, cover tightly with aluminum foil, and bake in the oven preheated at 375 degrees for 50 minutes. Remove foil, bake for another 10-15 minutes.
“No boil” Lasagna Noodles
2 Jars Pasta Sauce
1 lb Ground Beef
1/2 lb Ground Pork (optional)
2 Cups Ricotta Cheese
3 Cups Mozzarella Cheese
1 Cup Parmesan Cheese
Salt and Pepper to Taste
2 Tbsp Italian Seasoning
300 G Frozen Spinach
1). Cook beef and pork in a large saucepan over medium high heat, add sauce and put heat on low and cover.
2) In a medium microwave safe bowl, add spinach and 2 tbsp of water. Microwave for 3-4 minutes. Drain and set aside.
3) In a large bowl, mix ricotta and egg with a fork until well blended. Add 2/3 of the mozzarella cheese and the parmesan, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Mix well. Add spinach and mix until well blended.
4) In a greased 9 x 13 pan, add a thin layer of sauce so that it completely covers the bottom of the pan. Add one layer of lasagna noodles, make sure they are not overlapping (some piece may need to be broken to make fit). Spread one layer of cheese mixture, then add a layer of sauce. Repeat once.
5) Add a layer of sauce on the top, and top with remaining mozzarella cheese. Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake at 375 for 50 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 10-15 minutes.