I love lasagna. It's easy. Delicious. Freezes well. it's fool proof.
I love lasagna.
And I'm a nurse. I know all about shift work and getting home late, overtired, and hangry. Some days cereal doesn't cut it. Even Lucky Charms. That 7:15 distress call to home is real. "I'm just leaving work and I'm starving! No breaks all day. Haven't even touched my morning coffee. Everyone was mean to me. I haven't peed all day. Blah blah blah."
I have wonderful childhood memories of lasagna. My mom would bring it home from the best little Italian place in town. Flimsy tin foil containers filled with the deepest, tomatoiest, best lasagna ever. She usually broke it out when the relatives came, or she worked late, or some other equally exciting thing happened. And so began my love. Good food, good memories.
Here's my version. Husband and brother (and everyone else) approved. As far as I know.
1 lb ground beef
4 links Italian sausage
2 red bell peppers, minced
1 onion, minced
5 cloves garlic
1 cup frozen chopped spinach or kale, thawed and drained
1 cup tomato pesto
Salt and pepper
2 156 ml tins tomato paste
1 650 ml bolognese sauce
4 cups ricotta
4 T fresh parsley, chopped
Shredded mozzarella, provolone, and Parmesan
Oven ready lasagna noodles
Oregano, for sprinkling
Fennel, for sprinkling (optional)
In a large frying pan, brown ground beef. Remove casing from sausage and add, ensuring all meat is finely chopped. Add onions, garlic, bell pepper, and spinach or kale. Sprinkle with fresh ground salt and pepper. Simmer for 5 minutes, or until onions are clear. Add tomato paste, tomato pesto, and bolognese sauce. Simmer mixture on medium low heat for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine ricotta, eggs, and parsley.
Get out your bake ware. This meat mixture makes one 9 by 13 inch and one 9 by 9 inch pans full, or an extra deep 9 by 13 pan if you're brave and don't fear the dreaded drips on the bottom of your oven. (I'm lazy, can't abide the thought of cleaning my poor oven).
To assemble your lasagna, start with a thin layer of meat mixture on the bottom of the pan, this is vital to ensure your oven ready pasta really does get done. Then layer with lasagna noodles, followed by more meat mixture. Next spoon on a thin layer of ricotta mixture. Follow with more noodles, meat and ricotta. This should use up your mixtures, if not, repeat the process. Finish by sprinkling lasagnas with shredded mozzarella, provolone, and Parmesan. I'll leave those amounts in your good judgement. But just saying, people don't generally complain about too much cheese. Top it all off by sprinkling with oregano and fennel. The fennel is optional, as it can be a strong flavour and really isn't everyone's thing. It's your call, honey.
Bake covered at 375 for 30-40 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.
This also freezes great. Just cover with plastic wrap and freeze. Remove from freezer and place in refrigerator for 12 hours before cooking, or nuke it a few minutes before throwing it in the oven, as it has a tendency to freeze pretty solid.
Serve with a salad and fresh slices of artisan bread.