No, I am not Italian nor do I claim I’m an expert at Italian cooking. However, I do love good Italian food. Heck, I love pretty much every pasta dish there is. My husband and I love going to Italian restaurants. I love exploring new dishes every time we go out to eat at an Italian restaurant – however there is one dish that I never order off their menu – that is Lasagna.
I’ve never been impressed with Lasagnas at restaurants. I don’t know why but I haven’t had any luck in finding good lasagnas at restaurants. My husband and I both agreed that homemade lasagnas are usually much better. Everyone seems to have their favorite lasagna recipes and this one is my favorite.
Reasons why homemade lasagna is good:
1. I never use any bottled pasta sauces – first because my husband doesn’t eat onions and many bottled sauces have tons of onions in them. Second, because homemade sauces are usually much better than the bottled ones. Don’t get me wrong, I know there are some really good sauces out there that you could use. But why buy them if you could make your own so easily at home.
2. I use Italian sausages instead of ground beef. If you haven’t tried using Italian sausages in your lasagna, you must. The sausages have so much more flavors than plain ground beef. The texture is also more desirable. Chunky and good flavors! (Although I know there are many people out there who may still prefer ground beef over sausages. I understand.)
3. Don’t be too generous with Ricotta cheese. While ricotta cheese is the highlight of a good lasagna, if you put too much of it, you might not be able to enjoy all the other great ingredients and flavors in your lasagna. At least that’s what I’ve found out in my lasagna experiences. Add just enough. (*Note that I don’t mix the ricotta with egg. However, if you choose to, you can mix the ricotta and egg and some oregano and basil leaves. Without the egg, ricotta seems to hold together fine as long as you don’t overuse it.)
- 1 package Italian sausage links, peeled and chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 can crushed tomatoes (28 oz)
- 1 can tomato sauce (15 oz)
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon fresh basil leaves, chopped or dried basil leaves
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup black olives, chopped
- 1¾ cups part skim ricotta cheese (15 oz)
- 2½ cups Italian Cheese (or more if desired)
- 12 pieces oven ready lasagna, uncooked (or other lasagna cooked according to package instructions)
- Heat oven to 350 degrees F. In large skillet, brown Italian sausage chunks over medium high heat, stirring occasionally for about 5-8 minutes, or until completely cooked. Remove from pan and drain excessive oil by placing them on paper towel. In the skillet, saute the garlic until golden brown and reduce the heat to low. Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, grated Parmesan cheese, basil leaves, dried oregano and black pepper and stir well to blend. Add black olives. Let it simmer, about 10 minutes. Add the cooked sausages into the sauce and stir to mix. Simmer 3-5 more minutes and remove from heat.
- In 13x9x2 inch baking dish, spread about ¾ cup meat sauce. Place 3 pieces uncooked pasta (or cooked) crosswise over sauce. Pieces should not overlap or touch side of pan since they will expand when baked. Spread more meat sauce over the noodles, then ricotta cheese by dropping about 1 teaspoonful of the cheese over the meat sauce, shown in the picture above. Sprinkle about a handful of Italian cheese over the ricotta and place 3 noodles.
- Repeat step 2 two more times.Top with remaining 3 noodles. Spread remaining meat sauce and top it with Italian cheese. Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake 15 more minutes or until hot and bubbly. Let stand about 5 minutes before cutting.
Don't miss a post!