Hearty Lasagna | Sugar for Breakfast: Hearty Lasagna

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Hearty Lasagna

Can we just take a moment and look at the depth of this slice of lasagna?
Meaty layer upon cheesy layer.
Lasagna that isn't just a speck of meat drizzled in a marinara sauce with a slab of mozzarella and a giant noodle suffocating it all can be a real thing.
But guess what?
It does involve some labor in the kitchen to accomplish.
I ensure you though, it is nothing but a labor of love.
Because when you present a beautiful piece of lasagna, paired with freshly toasted garlic bread, the love from the eyes of your family members when they see it will speak volumes.
Okay, so it may not be that dramatic...but you can see where I'm going with this.
It will please the tummies in the house, that's for sure.
Let's take another quick looksie at how wonderful it is:

I made quite a few of lasagnas before I learned a few important things about the classic dish.
It requires a long cooking time for the sauce so that the spices have time to really marry the meat and infuse the sauce so that it isn't bland. 
Ricotta cheese gets a bad rep because typically it is just slathered on without any other seasonings added to it.
Adding an egg, parsley, and surprisingly some nutmeg helps enhance the flavor and doesn't make it a thick, kind-of curdled cheese.
You could go the cottage cheese route, I suppose if you must, but I just wouldn't. Try it with the ricotta just once if you have always been afraid of it. It might surprise you!

Lastly, it takes a lot of meat, seasonings, and cheese to prep a lasagna worthy of photograph.
Seriously. Many times they are just limp noodles smothered in toppings, as I mentioned above.
If you want a satisfying pasta packed full of yumminess, please give this a whirl!
I don't really think you would be let down.
I do recommend making this on cooler days, because with all the simmering it tends to warm up a kitchen quite quickly.

And if you are looking for a good dessert to pair it with, I typically serve Gooey Butter Cake afterwords. I'm not sure why. It just works out wonderfully!

Hearty Lasagna

by Emily Chhouy
Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 2-3 hours
Ingredients (12 servings)
    For the Meat Sauce
    • 1 pound Italian sausage
    • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
    • 3/4 cup onion, minced
    • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
    • 3 tablespoons sugar
    • 2 teaspoons basil
    • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
    • 1 tablespoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
    • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
    • 4 tablespoons parsley
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 1 - 6 oz can tomato paste
    • 1 large - 28 oz can diced or crushed tomatoes
    • 2 - 8 oz cans tomato sauce
    For the Filling
    • 16 oz. ricotta cheese
    • 1 tablespoon parsley
    • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
    • 1 egg
    • 2 pounds shredded mozzarella cheese
    • 1 cup fresh Parmesan cheese
    • 16 oz package of lasagna noodles
    For the Meat Sauce
    Brown the sausage and ground beef in a large skillet over a medium-high heat.
    Add the minced onions and let cook with the meat.
    Drain excess fat once all meat is cooked thoroughly.
    Return to the stove, over a low heat and add the remaining ingredients for the sauce - sugar, basil, Italian seasoning, fennel seeds, salt, pepper, parsley, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce and water.
    Cover and let simmer for an hour, stirring frequently to make sure it doesn't burn.
    After an hour, bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the noodles according to the package directions.
    (I add a bit of olive oil to the water to prevent sticking of the noodles)
    Uncover the meat sauce and continue to simmer, stirring as needed, to allow the sauce to reduce.
    Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
    For the Filling
    Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl combine the ricotta cheese, egg, nutmeg and parsley.
    Mix well - set aside.
    Spray a 9x13 baking dish with non-stick spray.
    Drain noodles - do not rinse with cold water, return to the pot.
    Remove the sauce from the heat and spread a layer evenly on the bottom of the baking dish.
    Lay down a layer of the noodles.
    Spread the ricotta cheese mixture as evenly as possible over the noddles.
    Spread another layer of the meat sauce over the ricotta cheese.
    Sprinkle with 1/3 of the Parmesan cheese.
    Top with a layer of the mozzarella cheese.
    Repeat with a layer of noodles, ricotta, meat, Parmesan, mozzarella two times.
    Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
    Remove the foil and continue to bake for another 20 minutes.
    Let sit for 5-10 minutes to "set up" before cutting and serving.
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