Food and Garden Dailies started as a way to record my family's favorite recipes. It has come in handy many times when I'm asked for a recipe. I simply email a link to the blog! But I couldn't just stick to recipes. The kitchen is tied to the garden in so many ways...and so I let you into my ever changing garden as well.

If you're interested in my all-time favorite recipes, check out this post first: My Favorite Recipes

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Easy Meat Lasagna with Hearty Tomato-Meat Sauce

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While lasagna is pretty darn simple to make, it seems mine always were just so-so.  It was a meal I made without a recipe (one of the few) but it wasn't anything special.  So, wanting a knock-your-socks-off lasagna, I turned to Cook's Illustrated.  As usual, they've figured out how to do it right.  This was DELICIOUS. 

Easy Meat Lasagna with Hearty Tomato-Meat Sauce
(Cook's Illustrated)

Meat Sauce

In a dutch oven (I use a 5 qt. one for a single batch, or a 7 qt. one for a double), heat up:
     1 TB olive oil

Add and stir until softened (about 2 minutes):
     1 finely chopped medium onion

Add and stir until fragrant (about 30 seconds):
     6 minced medium garlic cloves

Add, stir, and cook about 4 minutes:
     1 pound mixture of ground beef, pork, or veal (I used 1/2 lb. ground beef and 1/2 pound     ground pork)
     1/2 tsp salt
     1/2 tsp pepper

Add, stir,  and bring to a simmer:
     1/4 C heavy cream
Cook until the liquid evaporates and just the fat is left (about 4 minutes).

Add, stir, and cook for about 3 more minutes:
     1 28 oz can tomato puree
     1 28 oz can diced tomatoes, drained

Set sauce aside.


Get out 1 small bowl, 1 medium bowl, and 1 large bowl.

Fill the small bowl with:
     1/4 C grated Parmesan cheese

Fill the medium bowl with:
     1 lb. shredded Mozzarella cheese

Fill the large bowl with:
     1 C grated Parmesan cheese
     15 oz whole-milk or part-skim ricotta cheese (I used part-skim)
     1 slightly beaten egg
     1/2 C chopped fresh basil
     1/2 tsp salt
     1/2 tsp pepper
Mix together until creamy. 

Have on hand:
     12 no-boil lasagna noodles from an 8 or 9 oz pack (I used Ronzoni brand)

Assemble Lasagna

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Spread 1/4 C of the meat sauce over the bottom of a 9 x 13" baking dish.

Place 3 of the noodles on top of the sauce for the first layer.  Spread  blobs of ricotta cheese mixture across the noodles (about 3-4 TB per noodle).  Sprinkle some mozzarella on top of the ricotta (about 1 1/3 C per layer).    Spoon 1 1/2 C of the meat sauce over the cheeses, spreading evenly.

Repeat the layering process.  On top of the last three noodles, spread any remaining sauce, sprinkle with 1 1/3 C mozzarella, and then top with the 1/4 C of Parmesan in the small bowl.

Lightly spray a piece of foil with cooking spray and cover.

Cook, covered, for 15 minutes.  Remove foil, and continue cooking for about 25 minutes, until the cheese is a spotty brown and the sauce is bubbling. 

Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Freezing:  This freezes well.   Line your baking dish with foil, and prepare the lasagna.  Freeze the baking dish until the lasagna is frozen solid (overnight is great).  Remove the foil "package" from the dish, and wrap in heavy duty foil or vacuum pack with a FoodSaver.    To re-heat, remove the lasagna from the extra foil or the FoodSaver bag.  Place it back in the 9 x 13" pan and allow to defrost.    Follow the cooking directions above.