One of my favorite food blogs is Food Is To Love. She has some fantastic sounding recipes she's posted, and I feel a kinship to her because she has trouble growing plants as well, although her tomatoes are doing a heck of a lot better than mine. I was going back through her blog over the weekend reading all the recipes and saw this one. Tonight is our last Bible Study, so we're having a potluck and Wii tournament. I thought lasagna would be a good choice because I could have it assembled early and everyone likes lasagna. I was debating if I should make my usual lasagna or my grandma's recipe, and then I saw Andrea's and thought I'd give it a go.
© 2008, 2009 Food is to love / Andrea Quigley
1 lb lean ground beef
1 lb hot Italian pork sausage, casings removed
1 large onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
4 cloves minced garlic, separated
2 large cans whole tomatoes
1 large can tomato puree
1 small can tomato paste
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons dried basil
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 large container part-skim ricotta
2 tablespoons dried parsley, or 1/4 cup fresh
6oz fresh mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cubed, 1/2 thinly sliced
1/2 -3/4 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
9 lasagna noodles
1 tablespoon olive oil
additional kosher salt and pepper to taste
Heat a large pot over medium heat. Brown the ground beef and sausage until there is no more pink. Remove the meat and drain the liquid/fat over a bowl. Put about 1/4 cup of the beef and pork fat back in the pot and cook the onion and green pepper for 3-4 minutes, then add the 3 of the cloves of minced garlic and cook for another minute.
Next add all your tomato products (2 cans whole tomatoes, 1 can puree, 1 can paste), the bay leaves, sugar, basil, oregano, red pepper flakes, kosher salt and pepper and simmer, stirring occasionally, for at least 2 hours. 2 1/2 hours will give you a thicker sauce, which means a firmer lasagna. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. The whole tomatoes should have broken down. If they are still mostly whole, take a potato masher and break up a little.
While the sauce is simmering, in a large bowl, lightly beat the egg. Mix in the ricotta, last clove of minced garlic, parsley, cubed mozzarella, half the parmesan and salt and pepper to taste. (I always use fresh mozzarella and grate my own parmesan. I think pre-grated and shredded cheeses are too dry and lose a lot of their flavor. Buying it whole and cutting/shredding yourself is more work and costs a little more, but the flavor is stronger so you'll actually end up using less.)
When your sauce is almost ready to use, heat a large pot full of water to boiling. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and a pinch of kosher salt. Cook your noodles for about a minute less than the box directions say to. Drain and spread out on a couple of kitchen towels. Cover with a damp towel.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Pour a large ladle full of sauce in a 9 x 13 pan (9x11 is okay too, but you may need to trim your noodles to fit them), and spread out. Now layer 3 noodles, 1/3 of the ricotta mixture, 1 or 2 ladles of sauce, 3 noodles, 1/3 ricotta, sauce, 3 noodles, the last 1/3 ricotta mixture and another ladle or two of sauce. Press down after each layer of noodles. Top with the thinly sliced mozzarella, tearing with your hands if needed, and the rest of the parmesan cheese.
Bake for 10 minutes. Turn the broiler to 500, leave the oven door open slightly and brown the top of the lasagna for 3 or 4 minutes. Let cool for at least 10 minutes (The longer it sits, the easier it will be to remove from the pan). Serve with some crusty bread and a salad.
I had to go grocery shopping with both kids this morning, and I didn't want to take the time to find fresh mozzarella, so I just bought shredded. Taking both kids grocery shopping I think is the third level of hell, so I try to make it as fast as possible when I have to do it. Oh, and I forgot to get a green pepper. I may have one in the fridge. I need to get my sauce simmering so I can let it go for awhile and still have time to assemble the lasagna. Mmmm...I can't wait for dinner tonight!
Wow. WOW. This lasagna was AWESOME. The sauce is my new go to meat sauce--I couldn't stop taking bites of it while it was simmering. I had to tell myself several times to step away from the pot of sauce. The husband had the same problem when he got home and tasted it. Based on the sauce I figured the lasagna itself would be good, and it was. Everyone loved it--there was only one small piece left after all was said and done last night. I think with fresh mozzarella it would be even better. I had a bit of an issue with my parmesan cheese--I was just about out so I went out to my garage fridge to get the chunk I had purchased recently at Costco, only to find it was moldy! Gross!! It wasn't that long ago I bought it, and the sell by date wasn't until November, so that will be getting returned!! So I was kind of shy on the parmesan, but it was still super tasty. I really wish there was more left so I could have some today, but the husband has already claimed the leftover piece for his lunch.
Thanks, Andrea, for sharing a fantastic recipe!!!