Friday, April 6, 2012

Cheap and Easy Weeknight Dinner Series: Homemade Lasagna

This recipe is a little outside the norm for this series. Don't get me wrong, it's cheap and easy, but it just takes a bit longer than usual. Preparation is a snap, but it needs to bake for 35 minutes and then sit for 10 minutes before you dig in. That doesn't usually bother me because I can read or do any number of things on my to-do list in that time, but if you are hungry and want food ASAP, then you might want to plan ahead for this dish. This recipe is also a family favorite and I'm slightly appalled it's not on my website. The best thing about this dish is the ratio of noodles to cheese and sauce. I've fiddled a great deal with the ordering of the layers to get it just right for my tastes, but of course people are different, so I encourage you to also experiment. I personally like a hefty portion of noodles (who is surprised?) and sauce, and I don't like too much mozzarella on top because it makes it impossible to cut through. I also like a hearty meat sauce in my lasagna. I don't want just tomatoes, there needs to be some beef (or at least meat flavor if you use turkey). My final must with lasagna is a bit odd. I don't like when you get a massive piece of steaming lasagna and you cut into it and it doesn't move. It stays perfect upright and the layers are in tact like a piece of cake. To me that implies that it's not fresh. I could be wrong, but that's how I feel. So now that you've been warned, here is my absolute favorite lasagna.

Homemade Lasagna
5 cups spaghetti sauce (I suggest mine, but a store bought kind will work in a pinch and you can add browned meat. Don't worry the spaghetti makes so much you are going to want to do something with some of the leftovers)
1 package extra wide lasagna noodles
1 15 ounce container skim or low fat Ricotta cheese
1 egg
1 tablespoon dried thyme
salt and pepper
1.5 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2 cups Parmesan cheese

I start by doing a few things. Turn on the oven. Bring the noodle water to a boil. Make the ricotta mix. I do so by mixing the egg, ricotta, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste. Then I set the bowl aside.
 Next, lay down a thick layer of sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish.
Once the lasagna noodles are cooked, lay down a layer on top of the sauce. (My noodles were short because I had to break them in half to fit them in the pot).
Spoon half the ricotta mix on top of the noodles and spread. Spring 1/3 of the mozzarella and 1/3 of the Parmesan on top of the ricotta.
Add another layer of sauce, noodles ricotta and cheese. Then, instead of sauce after the cheese, add a layer of noodles, then sauce and finish off with the rest of the cheese (extra Parm if you want). Don't worry if that order isn't clear, I will write it again below.
See the awesome layers?
 Bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes or until edges slightly browned and cheese melty and bubbly.
Let sit for ten minutes at least and then enjoy! Be careful not to burn your tongue!

Since it was a bit confusing above, here is the order of the layers from bottom to top:
1) sauce
2) noodles
3) 1/2 of ricotta mix
4) sprinkled cheeses
5) sauce
6) noodles
7) last 1/2 of ricotta mix
8) sprinkled cheeses
9) noodles
10) sauce
11) sprinkled cheeses, extra Parm.

Hope that is more clear!

1 comment:

  1. I think I have to object to the "Cheap and Easy" designation here. Now, I absolutely love this lasagna. There's some in my freezer, and I'm going to take it out right now just because I saw a picture of it on this blog. But, the key to this lasagna is the spaghetti sauce, and there is nothing easy about that.

    Then again, if you factor in the amount of time spent vs. number of dinners created, it might balance out. This makes a ton of food -- as previously mentioned, more than enough to freeze an extra dinner or two. Oh whatever, just make it!


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