When I think of comfort food, lasagna is definitely one dish that comes to mind. The sauce, the pasta, the ooey, gooey cheese....it's all good. I know it can be time consuming to put together, it's not something you're going to quick whip up for dinner after a long day at work. BUT it is something that you can assemble ahead of time and pop in the freezer. Then you can have lasagna anytime and it's way better than any frozen lasagna you can buy at the store!
Over the years I have figured out ways to make lasagna easier to make and have figured out how to make it come out just right. The first thing is.....USE NO BOIL NOODLES....that is a HUGE time saver. I also always try and have homemade sauce on hand in the freezer, you also could save time by using a jarred sauce. I have also learned that it is best to keep the ground beef separate from the sauce (I sprinkle it over the top of the sauce), always use ricotta cheese with an egg mixed into it and let it rest before you cut it. By doing those three things, the lasagna always comes out nice and firm, not a runny mess on the plate!
I usually make my lasagna with ground beef, but occasionally I make it with fresh baby spinach instead. If you want to try the vegetarian version, then substitute a bag of pre-washed baby spinach for the ground beef mixture, otherwise the recipe is the same.
Lisa's Lasagna, Two Ways
- 1 lb ground beef (I like to use at least 90% lean)
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp olive oil
- If making vegetarian, omit above and substitute 1 package pre-washed baby spinach
- 1 15oz container ricotta cheese (I use low fat)
- 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus 6 tbsp
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
- salt and pepper
- 4 cups spaghetti sauce, preferably homemade, but jarred is fine
- 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (I use reduced fat)
- 12 no boil lasagna noodles (I use either Trader Joe's or Barilla)
Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add ground beef, onion and garlic, breaking up beef with a spoon. Cook until beef is no longer pink and onions are translucent, season with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool (you could also refridgerate or freeze at this point until you're ready to assemble lasagne).
Mix until well combined
Now it's time to assemble. I find it works best to make an assembly line for youself so then everthing is right there for you.
Start by spreading about 1/2 cup sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 pan (sprayed with cooking spray).
Place three no boil noodles crosswise on top of the sauce.
Spread 1/3 of the ricotta mixture over the noodles.
Spread about 3/4 cup of the sauce over the ricotta mixture.
If making with the ground beef, sprinkle 1/3 of that mixture over the sauce.
If making it with the spinach, cover the sauce with a layer of the spinach leaves.
Then top either version with 1/3 of the mozzerella and about 2 tbsp of the parmesan.
The ground beef version will look like this:
The spinach version will look like this:
Repeat the above twice. So, noodles, ricotta, sauce, beef or spinach, mozzarella and parmesan...AND one more time for a total of three layers.
|Mine went straight to the freezer for later!|
You can now cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes in an oven preheated to 350 degrees. Then uncover and bake for an additional 15 minutes, until it's bubbly and the cheese is melted. Let lasagna rest for 5 to 10 minutes before you slice it.
OR...you can do what I did and cover your pan tightly and freeze until you're ready to use it. Then thaw and bake according to the above instructions. (If you're going to bake it from frozen, you'll need to add about 30 minutes to the baking time).