I love pasta. I love everything about it. Pasta dishes rarely disappoints me, so it's a staple in my top 3 back-up food whenever we dine out.
I don't regard pasta the same way if I have to cook it at home though. Unless it's Macaroni and Cheese or Spaghetti Bolognese, I'll pass. Needless to say, baking Lasagna gives me chills.
I always have this worrying visual in my head whenever I think of baking lasagna,,, a huge baking dish that tastes awful and it was either going down the trash or I'm sitting on the kitchen floor, eating it all by myself because no one else will touch it.
So, yes, I finally faced my fears and I'm quite happy to report that my first lasagna was a success. Only a small piece was left and got rave reviews. They said it's moist, not too salty, not too cheesy, the flavours didn't compete with each other, it was just perfect!
Tip 1: If you're using no-cook lasagna sheet (I used Barilla), don't leave it as is but also don't boil it, because it's thinner than normal sheets. Soak the sheets in pre-boiled hot water with 2 tablespoons butter for 10 minutes. Drain, pat dry and set aside.
Tip 2: Make extra sauce if you want your lasagna with sauce on it.
Tip 3: Adjust the amount of dried pepper flakes as you wish.
Tip 4: Lasagna can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover with cling film and keep it in the fridge.
This took me an hour and a half to bake... yes, yes, you'll take maybe an hour.
INGREDIENTS for Sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup finely chopped peeled carrots
2 tablespoons minced garlic
450 grams ounces lean ground beef
30-ounce crushed tomatoes with added puree
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon golden brown sugar
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried pepper flakes
INGREDIENTS for Lasagna
15 lasagna sheets/pasta
850 grams ricotta cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/4 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry
2 large eggs, beaten
4 3/4 cups grated mozzarella cheese
Serves 6-8 hearty portions
Directions For Sauce:
Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onions, carrots and garlic; saute until softened, about 12 minutes. Add remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer until flavors blend and sauce measures about 6 cups, stirring occassionally, about 15 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Cool.
Directions For Lasagna:
Preheat oven to 350F. Soak no-cook lasagna sheets in a pre-boiled water for 10 minutes. Drain and pat dry.
Mix ricotta and 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese in bowl. Mix in spinach. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in eggs.
Spread 1 cup sauce over bottom of 13x9x3-inch glass baking dish. Place 5 noodles over sauce, overlapping to fit. Spread half of ricotta-spinach mixture evenly over pasta. Sprinkle 2 cups mozzarella cheese evenly over ricotta-spinach mixture. Spoon 1 1/2 cups sauce over cheese spreading with spatula to cover (careful, sauce will be thick). Repeat layering with 5 noodles, remaining ricotta-spinach mixture, 2 cups mozzarella and 1 1/2 cups sauce. Arrange remaining 5 noodles over sauce. Spread remaining sauce over noodles. Sprinkle remaining 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese evenly over lasagna. (May refrigerate at this stage)
Cover baking dish with aluminum foil. Bake lasagna for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake until hot and bubbly, about 10 more minutes. Let lasagna stand 15 minutes before serving.
Serve this with Garlic Toast on the side, Tabasco sauce and extra Parmesan cheese and let your guests enjoy!
Acoustic Chef, cookin’ one tune at a time!