Monday, November 22, 2010

Mama Mia Lasagna

After numerous times making lasagne, I've finally decided to write mine down and post it. This is the perfect make-ahead dish for a crowd...or divide into two pans, eat one and freeze the other. Either way, go ahead and bake them a bit before freezing. 

Serves: 12
Preheat oven to 350 degrees when you begin to assemble lasagne.

1 pound Italian sausage or ground sirloin (or 1/2 and 1/2 of each)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 c. chopped onion
29-oz can tomato puree
6 oz. can tomato paste
1/2 c. red wine
1 c. water
1 Tbsp. sugar
2-3 tsp. dried oregano leaves
1-2 tsp. dried rosemary leaves (or 1  6-in.cut of fresh rosemary on stem)
2-3 tsp. dried basil leaves
1/2 - 1 tsp. dried red pepper flakes
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. fennel seed, crushed
12-16 lasagna noodles, cooked, drained and dried off
32 oz. (4 cups) ricotta cheese
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp. parsley flakes
6 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
freshly grated Parmesan cheese (to sprinkle on top)
**can add: 1/2 c. chopped green pepper, 1/2 c. mushrooms

Brown meat, drain and rinse to remove fat. Put back into a large Dutch oven. Add spices, garlic, onion, peppers and mushrooms (if using), tomato puree, paste, water, wine, and sugar. Simmer 30-40 minutes on low. Cover, but tilt cover to allow steam to escape. Stir to keep sauce from burning on bottom. Sauce should be thick after simmering. Taste to adjust spices. Set aside 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce for top layer if using 16 noodles.

Mix ricotta cheese, eggs, Parmesan cheese and parsley. Set aside.

To assemble:
Grease a deep 13x9 inch pan (should be at least 3 inches deep, preferably 4 inches!) with the following layers.
4 noodles on the bottom
1/3 of the ricotta cheese mixture
1/3 meat sauce
2 cups mozzarella cheese
Repeat twice (3 layers)
If using 16 noodles, top last layer with noodles, cover with 1 1/2 c. meat sauce you set aside.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/4 hours. Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and if you like a little additional mozzarella cheese (this would require additional cheese). Bake for another 15 minutes or until lasagna is bubbly at the sides and cheese is melted.

Remove from oven and allow to rest for about 15 minutes while you heat the bread and set the table!
Serve with hot French bread or garlic bread and a lettuce salad.

Note: If you plan to freeze lasagne -- par-bake for 45 minutes, cool and do not add the final layer of cheese until you bake it to eat. Be sure to cover the pan with plastic wrap before covering with foil for freezing. You can either thaw lasagne and then bake or bake frozen. If you bake it frozen -- adjust baking time accordingly.

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