Italian lasagna is always a great choice food to serve for a dinner party, a gathering and also for an every day dinner with your family. There are different recipe for lasagna, from vegetarian to seafood; some versions are made without tomato sauce and others include also creamy bechamel sauce. It's really matter of taste and creativeness.
In Italy, the classic lasagna recipe has normally a rich meat sauce, ricotta and mozzarella cheese. This recipe is my own version and it's relatively easy and very tasty. Lasagna can be prepared and baked in advance; slice it, keep it in the refrigerator for a few days and reheat for 10 minutes in a regular oven before serving. Another idea is to prepare it and then freeze before baking it; just defrost for 12 hours in the refrigerator and bake according to the instructions below.
Ingredients and Instructions (serves 8):
- 1 pound of sweet Italian sausage meat
- 1 pound of ground beef
- 1 tablespoon of dried basil
- Salt and pepper
- 2 cans of crushed tomatoes (28 ounces)
- 1 can of tomato puree (14 ounces)
- 2 tablespoons of all purpose flour
- 4 tablespoons of heavy cream
- 1 small onion
- 1 stalk of celery
- 1 carrot
- 2 cloves of fresh garlic
- ½ cup dry red wine
- 1 pound of lasagna pasta
- 3 eggs
- 1 and ½ pounds of ricotta cheese
- ½ cup of grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 pound of mozzarella cheese, finely sliced or shredded
- Clean and finely chop the garlic, the onion, the celery and the carrot. Brown the meat in a heavy skillet over medium heat, seasoning it with salt and pepper; discard some of the excess fat in the end.
- Add the chopped vegetables, the dried basil and a pinch of salt then stir to combine well. Cook for about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion becomes translucent; add the flour, stir and finally add the wine to the skillet and stir again.
- Cook for about one minute, to reduce the wine then add the crushed tomatoes, the tomato puree and the heavy cream. Reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes, stirring frequently.
- In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs, add the Parmigiano cheese, the ricotta, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and some ground pepper. Mix and blend well.
- Preheat the oven at 350 degrees F.
- Cook the lasagna in abundant salted water, al dente, which means don’t let them cook completely, just until tender but firm; in terms of cooking time, about one minute short of the suggested time on the package.
- Meanwhile butter a 13 x 9 baking dish. When the lasagna pasta is al dente, drain it and use 1/3 of the pasta sheets to cover the bottom of the baking dish, aligning them side by side. Spread 1/3 of the ricotta mixture over the pasta, top with 1/3 of the mozzarella cheese and then spread over 1/3 of the meat sauce.
- Repeat and create 3 layers of pasta, ending with the meat sauce and topping it all with the grated parmesan cheese.
- Shake the baking dish to make sure the sauce fills up any gaps, and then bake on the center rack of the preheated oven (375 F), for about 45 minutes, until the top is bubbly. Let rest and cool off for 20 minutes before cutting (lasagna will set and cut easier) then serve.
Wine suggestions: pair classic lasagna with a nice Italian red, such as Sangiovese or Barbera. If Italian wines are not easy to find in your area, Merlot or Cabernet will be good choices as well.
Cinzia Aversa 2013