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Absolute Best Ever Lasagna

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Lasagna is a beloved classic that combines layers of pasta, rich meat sauce, creamy cheese, and melted mozzarella. This recipe for the Absolute Best Ever Lasagna is sure to become a favorite in your home. Let’s dive into the details of creating this delicious dish!

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Ingredients

For the Meat Sauce:

  • 1/2 lb lean ground beef
  • 1/2 lb Italian sausage
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2-2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh coarse ground black pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 2 (14 1/2 ounce) cans whole tomatoes, undrained and chopped (or canned chopped tomatoes)
  • 2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste

For the Cheese Mixture:

  • 24 ounces cottage cheese or ricotta cheese
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons parsley
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

For the Lasagna Assembly:

  • 1 lb mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 12 lasagna noodles, cooked and drained

Instructions

Step 1: Prepare the Meat Sauce

  1. Cook the Meat:
    • In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the ground beef, Italian sausage, and chopped onion until the meat is browned and the onion is soft. Drain any excess fat.
  2. Add Garlic and Spices:
    • Add the minced garlic, salt, black pepper, parsley flakes, oregano, and basil to the skillet. Stir and cook for another 2 minutes until fragrant.
  3. Add Tomatoes and Tomato Paste:
    • Stir in the chopped tomatoes (with juice) and tomato paste. Mix well and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and let the sauce simmer for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Step 2: Prepare the Cheese Mixture

  1. Combine Cheese Ingredients:
    • In a medium bowl, combine the cottage cheese (or ricotta cheese), beaten eggs, black pepper, parsley, and grated Parmesan cheese. Mix until well combined.

Step 3: Cook the Lasagna Noodles

  1. Cook Noodles:
    • Cook the lasagna noodles according to the package instructions. Drain and lay them out on a clean kitchen towel to prevent sticking.

Step 4: Assemble the Lasagna

  1. Preheat Oven:
    • Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
  2. Layer Ingredients:
    • In a 9×13 inch baking dish, spread a thin layer of the meat sauce on the bottom.
    • Place a layer of lasagna noodles over the sauce.
    • Spread a layer of the cheese mixture over the noodles.
    • Sprinkle a portion of the shredded mozzarella cheese over the cheese mixture.
    • Repeat these layers (sauce, noodles, cheese mixture, mozzarella) until you run out of ingredients, ending with a layer of sauce and a generous topping of mozzarella cheese.

Step 5: Bake the Lasagna

  1. Cover and Bake:
    • Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes.
  2. Uncover and Continue Baking:
    • Remove the foil and bake for an additional 25 minutes, or until the lasagna is bubbly and the cheese on top is melted and golden brown.
  3. Let it Rest:
    • Let the lasagna rest for 10-15 minutes before serving to allow it to set and make it easier to cut.

Step 6: Serve

  1. Slice and Serve:
    • Slice the lasagna into squares and serve hot. Enjoy with a side salad or garlic bread for a complete meal.

Cook Notes and Variations

Cook Notes:

  • Cheese Options: Cottage cheese gives a slightly lighter texture, while ricotta cheese provides a creamier consistency. Choose according to your preference.
  • Noodles: Make sure the noodles are cooked al dente to avoid a mushy texture in the lasagna.

Variations:

  • Vegetarian Lasagna: Substitute the meat with sautéed vegetables like spinach, mushrooms, zucchini, and bell peppers.
  • Spicy Lasagna: Add crushed red pepper flakes to the meat sauce for a spicy kick.
  • Three-Cheese Lasagna: Use a combination of mozzarella, provolone, and Asiago cheeses for a richer flavor.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Can I make lasagna ahead of time?

Yes, you can assemble the lasagna up to a day in advance and store it in the refrigerator. When ready to bake, let it come to room temperature first or add extra baking time if baking directly from the refrigerator.

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2. How do I store leftover lasagna?

Store leftover lasagna in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat individual servings in the microwave or the whole dish in the oven at 350°F (175°C) until heated through.

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3. Can I freeze lasagna?

Yes, lasagna freezes well. Assemble the lasagna, but do not bake it. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and aluminum foil, and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before baking.

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4. What can I serve with lasagna?

Serve lasagna with a simple green salad, garlic bread, or steamed vegetables for a complete meal.

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5. Can I use no-boil lasagna noodles?

Yes, you can use no-boil lasagna noodles. Adjust the baking time according to the package instructions, as no-boil noodles typically require a longer baking time with more sauce.

Perfect for Any Occasion

Lasagna is perfect for family dinners, gatherings with friends, or any special occasion. Its hearty layers and rich flavors make it a crowd-pleaser every time.

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Tips for Success

  1. Use Fresh Herbs: If possible, use fresh herbs like basil and oregano for a more vibrant flavor.
  2. Layer Evenly: Ensure even layers for consistent flavors and textures in every bite.
  3. Let it Rest: Allow the lasagna to rest after baking to set the layers, making it easier to cut and serve.

This Absolute Best Ever Lasagna recipe is a surefire way to impress your family and friends with a hearty, flavorful dish. With its rich meat sauce, creamy cheese layers, and gooey mozzarella topping, it’s the ultimate comfort food. Follow this recipe for a delicious and satisfying meal that’s sure to become a favorite. Enjoy your homemade lasagna and happy cooking!