I’m half Italian, (Sicilian, to be precise) I love to eat and I love to cook. I’ve tasted a ton of lasagna recipes and I think this is the best lasagna recipe ever. It’s flavorful, hearty and will satisfy your culinary soul. (And also, your children.)
Before we get started, DO NOT BE AFRAID OF THE NUMBER OF INGREDIENTS. There are quite a few, but prep time for this bubbly, cheesy goodness is only about half an hour. And really…? As far as recipes go, I tend to think it’s the amount of prep time that is a killer, not the number of ingredients… So now, I give you:
Viv’s Best Lasagna Recipe.
1.5 lbs (or so) Hot Italian Sausage (slit casings with a knife, remove sausage, throw away casings. Crumble into bits.
In a large stock pot, brown:
The crumbled sausage
1.5 lbs ground beef (ground turkey works too)
Spoon off as much fat as possible. Add:
1 large yellow onion, diced (about 2 cups)
4 big cloves of garlic, minced
Then add in:
2 Tbsp tomato paste (don’t forget this handy tip for portioning and freezing tomato paste)
2 tsp each of dried basil, thyme & oregano
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 or 2 bay leaves
Stir well, then sauté about 5-10 minutes, until onion is soft.
¾ cup beef broth
4, 14.5oz cans Italian style diced tomatoes, 3 drained, 1 not
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (Tip: even store bought, jarred sauce will taste better if you add in a splash of balsamic vinegar.)
Pinch of salt.
Simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated. (About 20 minutes)
Meanwhile, make the Béchamel Sauce
In a large saucepan over medium high heat, saute:
¼ cup (half a stick) unsalted butter
1/2 large yellow onion (about 1 cup)
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
Pinch of nutmeg. (Yes, nutmeg)
3 cups of milk (I use would not use anything with a fat content lower than 2%)
2 6.25oz containers of Alouette or Boursin “garlic & herb” cheese spread.
Whisk until smooth. Set aside 1 cup of the béchamel sauce to top off the lasagna.
Cool the remaining sauce for about 5 minutes, then whisk in:
1 egg, beaten
1 8oz package of chopped, frozen spinach, thawed, with the water squeezed out and drained
Lightly grease a 13×9 pyrex (I use an olive oil spray), then smear a very thin layer of béchamel, just enough to lightly coat the bottom. Then layer, in this order:
a little béchamel sauce
3 lasagna sheets (I use the Barilla No-Boil kind)
Fresh mozzarella slices
Shredded parmesan cheese (not the grated in the canister kind)
Keep layering until you get to the top of the pan. Put down 3 lasagna sheets on the top and pour the reserved béchamel over them. Sprinkle with more Parmesan and a little mozzarella. Bake, uncovered at 400 until it smells good and the top looks golden and bubbly (about 35 minutes). Let stand about 20 minutes before cutting.
Do not think about the calories and fat. Just enjoy.
Oh, and serve with a nice bottle of wine.
Chi mangia bene, vive bene.