Ashley Does: Lasagna Education

I posted this a million years ago on another blog I ran – I HAD to share it with you all. I hope you enjoy it!

I can’t tell you how happy lasagna makes me. The orderly fashion with which it must be constructed. The beautiful colors. The cheese. It’s comforting from beginning to glorious end.

It’s a work of ooey, gooey art and it is one of my favorite meals to make.

It recently came to my attention that there are still people out there – people I know and love, y’all – who don’t know how to make lasagna. That is simply unacceptable and I am here to fix that unspeakable problem tonight.

First, make yourself some sauce. You’ll need about 4 to 4 1/2 cups as I like to make mine extra saucy and since I am the blogger I am the boss and we’ll be making extra saucy lasagna tonight.

Brown up some sausage. Please, do me a solid and don’t use ground anything. No beef. Good Lord no turkey. I’ll accept chicken sausage as I happen to love chicken sausage but the heart of this recipe lies in a good pork Italian sausage. You’ll need 1 pound. Links are fine, just take them out of their casing first. I’m really regretting not taking pictures of that process, as it is both gross and fun! Let the kids do it if you’re squeamish about squeezing meat from basically a thin tube. (You’re so welcome for that imagery.) Brown it, and then mix in the sauce and keep it warm.

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Yes, that’s sauce splatter. The struggle is real, people!

Next, mix together 15 ounces (at least. I often double this but sadly only had one package of cheese in my freezer tonight) full fat ricotta cheese. None of that part skim nonsense. This is Italian food, not diet food. Capiche?

Wait, what was I saying?…

Mix at least 15 ounces ricotta cheese with 1 egg, 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese (grated, powdered, whatever you have on hand), and 2 tsp dried oregano. Yes. I said an egg. This little beauty will hold your cheese mixture together and give you a creamy, smooth filling for your lasagna.

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Your mind is going to be blown all over this post. Sorry, not sorry. This is fast-track Lasagna Education, folks.

Time to assemble. Start with a 9×13 inch glass or stone baking dish. Metal pans will alter the taste too much so steer clear of those. Spread about 1 cup of sauce on the bottom of the pan and top with 4 3/4 unboiled lasagna noodles. No, not “no-boil,” regular old every day hard, curly at the edges lasagna noodles.

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I told you I was going to blow your mind, right? I’ve never boiled a lasagna noodle in my life. And if you are boiling yours, you’re doing it wrong friend. I love you enough to tell you the truth. STOP boiling your lasagna noodles. Your sauce will cook the noodles to al dente perfection so you don’t have to! This makes your lasagna not only obviously superior, but also way easier to make.

The layering of ricotta mixture, sauce, and cheese can get tricky when you’re in a hurry. Example A: I layered noodles, ricotta, mozzarella, and then sauce. Is it ideal? No. Does it really matter all that much? No. It will still be ooey, cheesy, al dente perfection and no one will know but you. So shhhh.

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Layer until you have no resources left, alternating the 3/4 noodle right to left as you layer. You could skip that little guy but I don’t like the gaps at the end. It’s a personal preference (not like not boiling the noodles and using extra sauce – that’s a rule) so do it how you’d like! I usually get a good 3 layers of noodle, ricotta mixture, sauce, and mozz. Make sure you end with sauce and mozz on top, so it looks a little something like this:

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Cover loosely with foil (you really don’t want the foil to touch the cheese, but you don’t want it exposed, either) and bake in the middle of your oven at 375 for 45 minutes. You may want to place a cookie sheet on the lower rack to catch any rogue sauce that may escape. Remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes, until it is bubbly and melty and smells delicious. Allow it to sit while you set the table, toast bread, make a salad, whatever. It needs that rest time so please, give it the rest time.

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The last step is the best part. Eat it! I hope you love it, and I hope you are recovering from your blown mind alright.

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See ‘ya round like a donut!

Blow Your Mind Lasagna

Ingredients:
15 ounces (at least, 30 is ok!) full fat ricotta cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 egg, beaten
2 tsp dried oregano
1 lb Italian sausage
4 to 4 1/2 cups marinara (I happen to be partial to this one)
15 lasagna noodles (NOT no-boil!)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees (f). Make sure there is a rack in the middle of the oven with a rack below it, and throw a cookie sheet on the lower rack to catch any sauce that may boil over.

Brown sausage in a large, high-sided pan over medium-high heat. Remove from the heat, drain the fat, return sausage to the pan and add marinara sauce. Cover and set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, add ricotta, Parmesan, oregano, and egg and mix well.

Spread 1 cup of sauce on the bottom of a 9×13 glass or stone pan. Top with 4 lasagna noodles (uncooked, regular lasagna noodles), with one 3/4 noodle across the gap at the end of the pan (if desired, you can skip this step). Layer with 1/3 of the ricotta mixture, 1/3 of the mozzarella cheese, and 1/3 of the remaining sauce/meat mixture and noodles until you’re out of resources. If you are doing the top 3/4 noodle, alternate which side it’s on every layer. End with a layer of sauce topped with mozzarella.

Cover loosely with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake 15 minutes more, until cheese on top is melted and lasagna is bubbly. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving. Serve with salad and garlic bread.

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