One of the more traditional Italian dishes, lasagna is usually prepared for a large number of people. However, it also is well suited for freezing and eating throughout the week for those that are on busy schedules. Here is my favorite recipe for lasagna:
1 lb. ground round
½ lb. mild or hot Italian sausage
½ large yellow onion, diced
8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 large can tomato sauce
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 large can tomato paste
1 large can black olives, diced
½ lb. fresh mushrooms, sliced
½ tsp. oregano
½ tsp. basil
2 bay leaves
¼ tsp. savory
¼ tsp. marjoram
¼ tsp. rosemary
¼ tsp. crushed fennel seeds (if desired)
Salt and pepper to taste (optional)
2 lbs. mozzarella cheese
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
½ cup grated Romano cheese
2 lbs. ricotta cheese
1 tsp. dried parsley flakes
1 tsp. dried tarragon flakes
1 gallon water
2 Tbls. olive oil
½ tsp salt for cooking pasta
1 lb. extra wide lasagna noodles
First begin the meat sauce by simmering the ground round, Italian sausage, onion and garlic in a skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until browned. Drain and discard the excess grease.
While the meat is browning, begin the tomato sauce. In a pot, put the sauce, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and black olives. Bring to a simmer over low heat. When browned, add the meat to this mixture. Next, add the oregano, basil, bay leaves, savory, marjoram, salt and pepper to taste. Be easy on the salt and pepper as the meat and Italian sausage tends to be somewhat salty and spicy in itself. Eliminate the salt and pepper if this is your first attempt at lasagna, or if you are in doubt. Simmer the sauce for at least 3 hours over low heat, uncovered.
Prepare the cheese mixture as follows: grate the mozzarella, parmesan and Romano cheeses. Separate and reserve about 1/3 of the mo cheese. Put the ricotta cheese in a mixing bowl and mix in the remaining grated cheeses. Add the parsley and tarragon while mixing.
When the sauce has simmered for three hours, add the mushrooms and simmer for an additional half an hour. After the mushrooms have been added to the sauce, begin the pasta.
To cook the pasta, bring about 1 gallon of water to a boil in a large pot. Add the ½ tsp. Salt and the 2 tablespoons oil. This oil will help to prevent sticking. Boil the pasta for 10 minutes and drain. Rinse the pasta with hot water and separate the noodles with your hands.
With all of these preparations done, you are now ready to make the lasagna. Have a large casserole dish ready. Cover the bottom of the casserole dish with some of the sauce. Now lay a single layer of the noodles over the sauce. Cover the noodles with the reserved mozzarella cheese. Lay another layer of noodles over the mozzarella and cover the noodles with the ricotta cheese mixture. Top this layer with more of the sauce. Put on the final layer of noodles and cover these with more of the sauce. Bake the casserole in the oven at 350 degrees for 50 minutes. Finally, put the remaining mozzarella cheese on top and bake an additional 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, garnish with addition parsley flakes, and cool for 15 minutes. Cut into 3 to 4 inch squares and serve.