My mother was an excellent cook. I remember growing up with the wonderful smells of baked cookies, pies, and delicious home-made meals filling our home. My parents divorced when I was quite young so money was scarce for my single mom of four growing children. But she always managed to bring a great meal to the kitchen table every day.
I didn’t inherit my mothers knack for cooking. To be honest, I don’t even really like to cook. I can, though, make a mean lasagna that is quick, easy and ,in my opinion, better than most any other lasagna I have ever tasted. Of course, it is my mothers recipe. I don’t know where she got it from but it is a lasagna I have grown up with and have been making myself for the past 30 years.
The ingredients are a little costly but, depending on how many people you are serving, lasagna can go a long way. Leftovers can be frozen and come in handy for a fast meal when time is of the essence. If you freeze this, make sure to take it out to thaw prior to reheating in the microwave. If you try to thaw in the microwave it will take forever, or at least it does in my microwave.
Here is what you will need:
11″ x 13″ pan
1/2 tsp of butter
2 lbs. ground beef
1 small onion
salt & pepper
16 oz. Ricotta cheese
1 oz. solid Mozzarella cheese
12 oz. Parmesan cheese
32 oz. jar Ragu spaghetti sauce
12-13 pieces of lasagna noodles
Place ground beef in large frying pan.
Cut up the small onion into very small pieces and add to the ground beef.
Sprinkle a little salt, pepper and garlic powder over the ground beef and fry until the ground beef is completely cooked.
While the ground beef is frying, cook the lasagna noodles according to the package. Once cooked drain the noodles in a large strainer and rinse in cold water.
Drain the fat from the ground beef and add to the Ragu sauce in a large pot. There is no need to heat the sauce first.
When the noodles are completely drained and cool, start pre-heating the oven to 350Â°. Lightly butter the bottom and sides of 11″ x 13″ pan. Do not use a lot of butter. The butter is only to keep the noodles from sticking to the pan.
Slice up the Mozzarella cheese. The brick cheese is much better then the shredded. Yes, the shredded cheese is by far easier to use, but it just doesn’t have the same taste. For lasagna you want your cheese to be somewhat on the thick side.
Place 3 -4 lasagna strips on the bottom of your prepared pan. You want them to slightly overlap each other. Cover all the noodles with Ricotta cheese. It’s up to you how thick you want it. Personally I think the best lasagna is the cheesiest lasagna so don’t be shy with the cheese. Just make sure you only use approx 1/3 of the container or you will not have enough cheese for the last layer. Now sprinkle on the Parmesan cheese, again don’t be shy. Now take your sliced Mozzarella cheese and place over the top of the noodles and cheese. Spoon over some of the ground beef and sauce mixture. You will want to cover all the noodles lightly with the sauce. For this you don’t want to “oversauce” your first two layers but you do want to cover your noodles entirely. Repeat this two more times until you have 3 layers of lasagna. The last layer of lasagna you will end with the sauce on top. Now you can spoon over as much sauce as you want, making sure all the noodles are covered.
Place in the pre-heated oven for approximately 30 minutes or until heated thoroughly and bubbling with cheese. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.. Add a salad and some great Italian bread and you have a dinner that your family and guests will rave over.
*Tip: If you have any remaining ground beef and sauce mixture you can freeze this too. It’s great when reheating the lasagna as it refreshes the slightly dried sauce.