If you are here for a lasagna recipe, I’ll give that to you right now. But nothing is for free, so you have say, “Thank you Helen” (at least in your head), to pay homage to my Mom who made this as we were growing up. I helped her make this once, and felt nostalgic so made it for tonight’s supper.
What you need:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb lean ground beef
1 large yellow onion, chopped fine
Garlic (I used a whole head – I’m of Ukrainian descent remember), chopped fine
1 – 2 carrots, chopped as small as you can
1 – 2 stalks celery, chopped as small as you can
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 small tin tomato paste
Dried oregano (to taste – start with one tablespoon)
Dried basil (to taste – start with one tablespoon)
Fennel seed (CAREFUL – start with 1 teaspoon, there are people who don’t like fennel. I do, so I use about one tablespoon).
Salt, pepper, and a few teaspoons of sugar (to taste)
Balsamic vinegar (1 tablespoon – use the cheap stuff IN recipes. The 18 year old stuff is for salad and bread)
1 cup water
Method: Put the olive oil in a large dutch oven. Add the finely diced onion, carrots, celery and garlic. When soft, add the ground beef. Add the rest of the ingredients listed above. Allow it to burble. Once burbling, set the stove to simmer, cover. Taste it. Does it taste like a nice meat sauce? No? What does it need? Add it! Put the cover on, and forget about it’s existence for now.
If you are pooped at this point, you can set the sauce aside and continue the rest tomorrow. Feeling like you got to get this done now? You can! Actually, if you are in a rush, you just need to let this burble for a minimum of 15 minutes.
1 tub ricotta cheese (or cottage cheese – I judge not), 500 ml
1 small tub sour cream, 250 ml
Dried basil (1 – 2 teaspoons) or use fresh if you are lucky enough to have a fresh supply
Method: Beat eggs. Add to ricotta, sour cream and basil. Mix well.
Mozzarella (use the brick type, not the soft kind), about 2 cups or more
Parmesan cheese (the real stuff please, or don’t bother), about 1 cup or more (use a micro-plane).
Method: Ask husband who would rather watch the Tim Horton’s Briar to grate the mozzarella. Then sweetly ask him to grate the Parmesan. If there is any groaning or eye-rolling, tell him to Grate or there Will Be No Lasagna. While he’s grating, this is when you sit and relax and have a large glass of wine and contemplate if you want to blog about this experience or not.
1 box normal lasagna noodles
Large pot of salted boiling water
Method: Read the box, but remove from heat and drain just before al dente. This prevents mushy noodle syndrome.
In your lightly greased 9 x 13 pan, add a very thin layer of meat sauce.
On top of that, place three long lasagna noodles, and cut one to fit on the end that is not covered.
On top of that, add a nice layer of your ricotta/sour cream mixture.
On top of that, add a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and a layer of mozzarella.
Add a layer of meat sauce.
Here endeth one layer.
Now depending on how deep your 9 x 13 is, or how daring your are feeling, repeat at least three times. At the end, make sure you are ending with a layer of meat sauce and cheese. My old Pyrex 9 x 13 barely had enough room for 3 layers. But I improvised, and got it done.
IMPORTANT: YOU CANNOT SCREW UP LASAGNA. Be creative. Just make sure you end up with cheese on the top.
Don’t want it now? Want to save it for unexpected company, or to present it to a new neighbour or to a friend going through tumultuous times? Cover well and freeze it.
Ready for it now?
Set oven to 350F. Tent foil over top of your lasagna. Place the 9 x 13 on a cookie sheet to catch ooze.
When oven is ready, place your creation in the oven for 30 minutes. Take the foil off, and allow it to cook for another 30 minutes minimum. When it’s bubbly and oozy, and golden on the top, it is time to remove it from the heat. Let sit for as long as you can stand it.
If you are cooking this from frozen, add an extra 30 minutes to the cooking time.
If you read this far, now I will take an opportunity to add some commentary. I don’t know if it has something to do with age, but when I’m looking for a recipe, I just want the fricken recipe. I don’t want to hear how lovely balloon whisks are and how they are available from Amazon. The whole blogging thing has become a bit of a drag for all the ads. Not sure what you will see when looking at my blog, but I can assure you, I am not linked to any advertising or other money generating incentive. I do this out of pure enjoyment and documentation of recipes or restaurant experiences.
This post came about because my sister asked me at about 7 am what I was having for supper tonight. Somehow in the conversation Mom’s lasagna came up. It stuck, and I knew I would have to make it today. I’m sure that my Mom’s recipe is very similar to recipes that you are familiar with, with slight variations.
If you are new to lasagna making, CONGRATULATIONS, and let me tell you again, that you CANNOT SCREW THIS UP. Our neighbourhood greasy spoon, “Route 99” sells a baked lasagna that is nothing more than tiny lasagna noodles swimming in meat sauce and baked with a cheesy layer on top. It’s delicious.
If you feel the courage to make this at home, you will not be disappointed. Your home will smell yummy. Your partner will happily leave their computer game, Briar, golf, football match, diamond painting, to be part of the lasagna experience.
I cannot possibly complete a post about lasagna without a shout out to my favourite cat, Garfield.
Good luck. Please let me know of your lasagna experience. It seems to be an 80’s thing, but I think it has staying power into the future. I’d like to know what you think.