So as I mentioned yesterday, I had quite a busy baking Sunday. I knocked out that pull apart bread and tomorrow you will get to see the delicious holiday bundt cake I made. So I wanted to make a delicious dinner that tasted like I spent all day making it, but didn’t take that long. I have made lasagna before and I have had great success using a blend of methods out of my own recipes and my go-to cookbook: “Pasta Revolution” which was produced by America’s Test Kitchen.
Typically I like to blend the recipe for classic lasagna out of this cookbook and use my pork ragu that I described in my very first post. On Sunday however I did not have the time or energy to spend two hours putting together my delicious sauce, so I went with the much quicker, about 20 minute, sauce that they use in the cookbook. The sauce is a straight forward and rather simple tomato sauce so it is perfect for a quick meal.
The other thing that I really like about this lasagna recipe is that it incorporates two of my favorite things in a pasta: cheese and fresh basil. The recipe has lots of ricotta, Parmesan, and mozzarella cheese in every layer which adds a delicious richness in every bite. Mixed in with the cheese is lots of fresh basil. The taste of fresh basil locked into a tomatoey sauce and layers of cheese adds a fresh pop to the dish. The two things should be included in every pasta dish
So I admit that I used the recipe directly out of the cookbook, and thus have little to cut up in it. However, the recipe provides one and I made on small adjustment that could be useful to some. The people at America’s Test Kitchen have opened my eyes to a lot of new and interesting ideas when it comes to cooking pasta. Maybe the biggest is their use of NO BOIL lasagna noodles. These are dried noodles you can find in the pasta aisle at the grocery store that require no pre-cooking, they simply go into the dish with the rest of the elements, then cook and become tender during baking. I had my reservations about this at first but after trying it once, I doubt I will ever boil another lasagna noodle.
The cut up that I made must be attributed to my mother. As I have made clear, I cook for just my wife and I. This recipe makes a 13×9 baking sheet of lasagna, which is more than enough for even a large family. If I made that much, we would end up throwing half of it away before we ever finished it. So, I had talked to my parents and mentioned that I was making the recipe and my mom mentioned that she had already tried it. She spoke highly of the dish, but also mentioned that she was able to successfully divide all of the ingredients in to two 8×8 pans and froze on lasagna for another day. So that is what I decided to do. If you are cooking for more, just make the recipe as described below. If cooking for 2-3, make the dish into two pans, and each layer will use only 2 noodles.
Classic Lasagna with Hearty Meat Sauce
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 pound pork Italian sausage
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 28 oz can tomato puree
- 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
- salt and pepper
- 1 15 oz package ricotta cheese
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
- 1 egg
- 12 no boil lasagna noodles
- 1 pound mozzarella cheese
- Preheat the oven to 375
- Heat the oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened. Add the garlic and cook about 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the sausage, and break up. Cook until no longer pink.
- Add the milk and simmer until mostly evaporated. Stir in both cans of tomato and simmer until everything has blended together nicely and the flavors have melded. Season with salt and pepper.
- In a separate bowl, mix the ricotta cheese, Parmesan, basil, egg and salt and pepper.
- LAYERING: spread a little bit of the sauce in the bottom of the pan. Top three noodles with about 3 tablespoons each of the ricotta mixture and layer in the pan. Top with about a cup and a half of the sauce then sprinkle with 1 cup of mozzarella cheese. Repeat the layering 2 more times. For the final layer, place 3 noodles over the top (no ricotta this time). Top with the remaining sauce, mozzarella, and a little bit of Parmesan.
- Cover the lasagna with aluminum foil. Bake covered for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for about 25 more minutes until the cheese is browned and sauce is bubbling. Let stand for about 10 minutes so the lasagna can set. Serve and enjoy.
This recipe comes from “Pasta Revolution” from the people at America’s Test Kitchen