Last week, Kenny’s Dad and Mom, and Uncle and Aunt were in town from Chicago. They are all such wonderful, kind people, and each day I looked forward to driving over to Kenny’s house, and seeing them after work. On Saturday, my parents drove down from Santa Barbara to join in the fun. Ken’s kids were there too, so we have a full house… and I got to cook – yay! So the question was: what’s a meal that you can feed to 10 people, that is consistently good, and has a very flexible timing schedule? The answer: Lasagna! And it was a hit 🙂
I actually made two, since I wanted there to be leftovers for an upcoming lunch for the relatives. If you do make two, make sure to switch the placement of the lasagna pans halfway through cooking, so they both bake evenly.
I remember watching Mom make lasagnas when I was young, and as she would gingerly pull each cooked noodle out of the pot of boiling water, there would always be that one noodle that chose to break in half. And of course, if you didn’t use them instantly, you’d have a few that would stick like glue to each other. No wonder she didn’t make it all that often – I can’t blame her! But I really liked it a lot, especially the ricotta in the middle.
This is my favorite lasagna recipe, and it’s extra nice because you don’t have to boil the noodles first (whew!)
No Fail Lasagna
1 lb. Ground Bison or Ground Beef
3 bunches green onions, lower half only, chopped
2 Tbsp. Dried Oregano leaves, Divided
¼ tsp. Black Pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
3-15 oz. Tins of Diced Tomatoes (don’t drain)
1-6oz. Tin of Tomato Paste
½ tsp. Salt
4 Tbsp. Fresh Basil Leaves, Chopped, Divided
½ tsp. Black Pepper
1-15oz. Tub of Whole Milk Ricotta
8 oz. Mozzarella, Shredded, Divided
4 oz. Parmesan, Shredded, Divided
1 tsp. Nutmeg
1 Small Tin of Tomato Sauce
1 Pkg. Barilla Oven Ready Lasagna Noodles
In a large heavy pan, cook meat over medium-high heat for 2 minutes, breaking up large pieces with spoon. Add onions, 1 Tablespoon of oregano, and pepper. Cook well, stirring often, until onions are clear and tender, and meat is cooked through. Add garlic and cook 1 minute.
Add tomatoes, tomato paste, and salt; heat to boiling. Reduce heat to medium-low and stir occasionally. After sauce has been cooking 30 minutes, add half of the basil and 1 more Tablespoon of oregano. Continue cooking at least 30 minutes (the longer, the better). About 2 minutes before you take it off of the heat, stir in the remaining half of the basil.
Whisk the egg in a large bowl, and then add the pepper, ricotta, half of the mozzarella, ¾ of the parmesan, and the nutmeg. Mix well and set aside.
Put it All Together
Preheat oven to 350°
Open the tin of tomato sauce, and pour about ½ cup of it into the bottom of a 9×13 glass pan. Use a pastry brush to make sure all areas are covered, adding more if needed. Layer ingredients in this order:
½ of the cheese filling
⅓ of the sauce
½ of the cheese filling
⅔ of the sauce
Top with remaining mozzarella and parmesan.
Keep in mind that the cheese on top will eventually bubble, so cover with heavy duty foil, trying to make it as high above the lasagna as you can get. This way, the cheese won’t stick too much. Bake in oven for 30 minutes, and check under the foil. If lasagna appears nearly cooked, carefully remove the foil. I pull up a little at a time, and if there are strings of cheese attached, I cut them with kitchen scissors to prevent losing any cheese.
Put lasagna back into the oven and cook till the top is golden and bubbly.
Remove from oven and set on a trivet or unheated stove top. Let sit for 10-15 minutes before cutting.