I am not Italian. At all. No little, old Italian grandmas in the kitchen, cooking up vats of gravy, and brasciole, and manicotti, and whatever else it is that Italian and Italian-American grandmas are always stereotypically making. But I love Italy, and Italian food,though I have to admit that after several trips to Italy, I am a bit spoiled, and Italian food here in America just doesn’t quite live up to my expectations anymore.
But for some reason, when I have to make a large amount of something, I often fall back on Baked Ziti, or Stuffed Shells, or this Lasagna. This lasagna is amazing. It is called the World’s Best Lasagna, and while I can’t verify that the research was actually done to make this claim, in is definitely the best lasagna I’ve ever made. The sauce is so flavorful from having both beef and sausage, there is the perfect amount of cheese, and it all comes together into the perfect bite of hot, cheesy, meaty, saucy deliciousness.
Since it is so good, I have no intentions of changing it or making it my own. I only make a few minor substations and changes – turkey sausage instead of pork sausage, a little less salt and sugar. Oh, and I use no boil noodles (Barilla!!) because this recipe is enough work as it is. And actually, I think the no boil noodles absorb some of the excess moisture so that you get nice slices, instead of a big pile of slop.
Like I said, this recipe is fairly time intensive. I usually make the sauce the day before I plan to assemble the lasagna. This time, it wasn’t even baked until the day after that, so this is definitely one you can make ahead of time. I’ve even frozen it unbaked, and it still turn out fabulous. And I usually make two, because it is only a small amount of additional work. This time I was bringing one to a mom in my mom’s group who just had her third daughter. The other one was for my dad, since he was babysitting The Bug ALL DAY, and I know they both love it. The Bug and The Hubby even had it reheated a couple nights later for dinner. Truthfully, that is when I took these pictures. And it still looks yummy, right?! And, since it makes so much (and sadly I cannot eat it – boo hoo!), we even have some individual portions still in our freezer.
Oh, and for a gluten-free option, I took a little of the filling components, I made a mini-lasagna using roasted eggplant slices as noodles. It was a bit sloppy, but still tasted awesome. Next time, though, I might just use the raw eggplant, and let it cook through during the baking process.
You can find the World’s Best Lasagna recipe HERE. Try it!
What was/is your favorite dish of your grandmother’s? Mine was either her chicken noodle soup, or when she made me meatballs out of the stuffed cabbage filling, since I wouldn’t eat cabbage. Oh, and she made the best bowls of cream of wheat.
- 1 pound sweet Italian sausage (I use turkey sausage)
- ¾ pound lean ground beef
- ½ c onion, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
- 2 (6.5 ounce) cans canned tomato sauce
- ½ cup water
- 2 T sugar
- 1½ t dried basil leaves
- ½ t fennel seeds (I usually omit this)
- 1 t Italian seasoning
- 1 T salt (I usually reduce to a couple teaspoons)
- ¼ t ground black pepper
- 4 T chopped fresh parsley
- 12 lasagna noodles (regular or no cook. I usually use no cook noodles.)
- 16 ounces ricotta cheese
- 1 egg
- ½ t salt
- ¾ pound mozzarella cheese, shredded
- ¾ c grated Parmesan cheese
- In a large Dutch oven, cook sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until cooked through and browned.
- Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water, and stir everything together.
- Add sugar, basil, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning, 1 T salt, pepper, and 2 T parsley, and stir to combine.
- Simmer, covered, for at least 1½ hours, stirring occasionally. I usually try to simmer for as long as possible.
- If using regular lasagna noodles, cook according to package instructions and drain.
- In a bowl, combine ricotta cheese, egg, remaining parsley, and ½ teaspoon salt.
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- To assemble, spread 1½ cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Arrange a single layer of noodles over meat sauce. Spread with one half of the ricotta cheese mixture. Top with a third of mozzarella cheese.
- Spoon 1½ cups meat sauce over mozzarella, and sprinkle with ¼ cup Parmesan cheese.
- Repeat layers, and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.
- Cover with foil and bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes.
- Remove foil, and bake an additional 25 minutes.
- Cool for 15 minutes before serving.