We’ve always known she can’t leave well enough alone so every part of the back of the box recipe was changed in some way.
This is her version but you can make it your own with the addition of different ingredients or spices.
The following ingredients made enough for 2 (9 by 13 inch) lasagnas – one to eat and one to freeze or share.
- Mueller’s© “Oven Ready” Lasagna noodles (2 boxes) – Experience calls for 3 boxes. After breaking some of the noodles to cover the bare spots of different layers, you are going to need at least four more whole lasagna noodles.
- 2 1/2 to 3 pounds of lean ground beef or a combination of lean and chuck. You can also make it half and half beef and seasoned pork sausage. Drain well to remove as much fat as possible. I cook the sausage in a separate pan and drain it on several layers of paper towels.
- 1 large yellow onion, cut in small dice
- 3-4 cloves of mined garlic or to taste
- 4 oz container of diced pancetta this is just enough to fry up the onions and add a bit of flavor to an “all beef” meat mixture.
- 2 (67oz) container of Prego© Italian sauce (mushroom)
- 2 bags (4 cups) of Kraft© Italian 5 Cheese
- 1 bag of Sargento© 6 cheese Italian or shredded pecorina romano – (1 cup) to mix with the ricotta and the rest to layer in lasagna as well as on top of the completed dish.
- 2 large (36oz) tubs of Sorrento© ricotta cheese
- 4 to 6 large leaves of fresh basil, cut “chiffonade” style.
- 2 bags of baby spinach (totally optional but it makes for a colorful and added nutritional layer over the cheese).
- 4 eggs.
- Fresh parsley and basil in ricotta mixture.
Begin by frying the diced onion in the Pancetta bits.
When the pancetta is browned and the onions lightly caramelized, add the beef to the pan by breaking it up (by hand) into small crumbles. It is much easier to break it down now when raw than later when browned and in larger pieces. When the beef is no longer pink, add the garlic.
Mix well. Add the well drained sausage at this point – if you are combining the meats.
Cook on low heat for about 10 minutes to combine the flavors. Add enough sauce to cover the meat. Mix well. You want the meat sauce to be thick not runny.
Combine the ricotta, eggs and shredded cheese. Follow the directions on the back of the box but add the freshly chopped basil leaves, garlic and herb spices to taste and the Pecorino Romano cheese (which I happened to have in the ‘fridge). The Pecorino adds some real aged “zing” to the mild, almost sweet ricotta.
Mix well until the eggs are completely incorporated into the ricotta.
Note: The box calls for cottage cheese but I prefer the consistency of ricotta for this purpose. Set aside until you are ready to prepare the lasagna layers.
Layer the noodles, cheese and meat sauce according to the instructions on the box.
Bake at 375 degrees for 50 minutes covered with foil as directed on the box. After 50 minutes, uncover and allow the top to brown until golden.
It may take longer than 50 minutes to get your lasagna hot and bubbly. Adjust the total cooking time accordingly.
P.S. I mention spinach in the list of ingredients. Yes indeed, I forgot to add it to the first dish and promptly forgot to add it to the second dish! So… the spinach became a salad. I also want to reassure all parents and grandparents that the wine was strictly a photo prop. Capisce?
On a different note, I am all for saving time with no-cook lasagna noodles. However, regular lasagna noodles are longer and fit better in my stoneware lasagna bakers. Just saying…
Of course, I’ve also seen the metallic pans designed specifically for lasagna noodles. Those look like a great way to get around the problem of overlapping the pasta but somehow I prefer the beauty of a big, bubbly pan of lasagna appearing in the center of the dinner table.