Lasagna

This is the best lasagna ever, hands down. I’m not even going to waste time with some long back story because you need to drop whatever you’re doing and make this right now. (Or, you know, this weekend.) It’s another one of my mom’s old standbys, and with good reason—not only is it everything you’d ever want in a meat lasagna, but it freezes beautifully. Go make it right now!

Mom’s lasagna
Heavily adapted from an old Better Homes & Gardens cookbook. Makes an obscene amount of lasagna—about two pans’ worth, if you’re using the regular glass Pyrex casserole dishes.

1 lb. lasagna noodles
1 lb mozzarella cheese (I recommend 1 lb. as a starting point; I probably used an additional half-pound.)

For the meat sauce:
1 lb. hot Italian sausage
1 lb. ground chuck
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. dried basil
3 tsp. salt
2 1-lb. cans diced tomatoes
2 12-oz. cans tomato paste

For the cheese mixture:
4-5 cups ricotta cheese (I used 5)
3 eggs
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (don’t use the stuff in a can—grate it fresh!)
4 Tbsp. dried parsley
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper

Slice the Italian sausages open and remove casings. Add sausage and ground chuck to a large (the largest you’ve got) saucepan. Brown the meat until it’s all cooked through. Drain the meat well and return it to the same pan. Add the rest of the meat sauce ingredients to the pan and simmer on medium-low heat, stirring every now and then. At this point, go ahead and get a pot of salted water boiling for the noodles.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the cheese mixture ingredients. Add noodles to the boiling water and cook according to the directions on the box.

Slice the mozzarella into 1/8-inch slices. (Totally guessing here, by the way. My slices were a bit thicker than 1/8 inch and I ran out toward the end of the layering process.) Spray your pan(s) with Pam and get everything ready to assemble.

Time to layer! Start with a layer of noodles at the bottom of the pan(s); add meat sauce on top of that and spread it around so it’s an even layer. Next, add some of the cheese mixture and spread it in an even layer. Then, add mozzarella on top. Continue to layer in that order until you run out.

If you’re cooking the lasagna immediately, put it in the oven at 375˚ for 35-40 minutes, until everything’s all bubbly. If you’re going to freeze it, wrap the pan in a couple of layers of tinfoil and put it in the freezer. I took it out of the freezer before I went to work the morning of the dinner party, which gave it plenty of time to defrost before I cooked it that night.

This was also the first use of my new vintage Pyrex casserole dish! I love this pattern and when I saw it—and its $10 price tag—I had to have it.

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