Lasagna. One of my most cherished comfort foods of all time. Not just any lasagna, but my Mama’s Lasagna. It’s her signature dish, always a go-to when we had company, and something about it just says “home” to me. After a few years of cooking on my own, and one year of blogging for Cooking in the Creek, I realized I have yet to have ever made a lasagna before. Such a classic dish. Sure I’ve seen my mom assemble them many times over the years and devoured plenty, but make my one myself, I had yet to conquer it.
Initially I thought of making lasagna because we had one more pack of deer meat from Randy’s (Gabe’s Dad) hunting trip, and I thought that may be a yummy way to use it up. It was ground venison with a bit of pork fat, so it was perfect for this dish. However, I didn’t know where to begin when it came to a recipe. Nothing I found online was helpful, so of course I enlisted the help of my Mom and she gave me all her tips and tricks. Of course, she prepares the dish by memory because after making hundreds of lasagnas over the years, there’s no need for measurements. So, I wrote vigorously on a notepad as she dictated her invaluable tricks of the trade over the phone. And my oh my did it turn out wonderful! I will be sure to pass down this recipe to my kids because this is a classic dish that just comforts the soul.
Me, my Mama, and my sister Nicole circa October 11, 1990 – Nicole’s 4th birthday.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour and 25 minutes
Total time: 1 hour and 55 minutes
Yield: 9-12 servings
*Feel free to use whatever sauce you like best; my mom usually uses Prego. I prefer to make my own, but a jar of pre-made sauce works just fine too. Just make sure you have plenty, because it soaks up a lot of the sauce in the oven.
4 tablespoons olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 28 ounce cans San Marzano crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 pound ground meat of your choice (we used ground venison with pork)
15 ounces part skim ricotta cheese
16 ounces lasagna noodles (I used the 365 brand no boil noodles from Whole Foods)
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, finely shredded
Seasonings: Salt, Pepper, Italian Seasoning, dried Oregano, dried Basil
In a deep large saute pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat, add garlic and saute for 30 seconds, reduce to low heat, add tomatoes, salt, sugar, and pepper flakes. Simmer sauce for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
In a medium saute pan, heat one tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat, add onion and saute until translucent. Next, add garlic, saute for 30 seconds before adding ground meat. Break up the meat with a wooden spoon. Season with salt, pepper, italian seasoning, dried oregano, and dried basil. Cook until nearly all pieces are browned.
Next, in a medium bowl blend together the ricotta cheese and eggs. Season with salt, pepper, italian seasoning, dried oregano, and dried basil to taste.
To begin assembling the lasagna, start by spreading a layer of marinara sauce on the bottom of a 9 X 13 casserole dish. Then layer six lasagna noodles, another layer of sauce, a fourth of the ricotta mix, a fourth of the meat, a light sprinkle of mozzarella, a few dollops of marinara, then begin again with the lasagna noodles and repeat with the remainder of the ingredients. At the end, top the lasagna with the bulk of the mozzarella and all of the parmesan cheese. Drizzle with a touch of extra virgin olive oil. Cover with aluminum foil (spray the inside of the foil with non-stick spray to avoid any cheese sticking to the foil).
Feel free to prep the lasagna ahead of time as it can be refrigerated until ready to bake.
To finish, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake in oven for 35 minutes, covered. Then, remove foil and bake for another 15 minutes, and broil for one minute at the end.