When it comes to food, my family has always known one thing to be true. Denise does not like lasagna. At the tender age of seven, I proved my distaste for this dish by throwing a plateful of lasagna off a balcony. (Unfortunately, it landed on our car so I was found out.)
This fact held true for 37 years. Then, I attended a party held in my honor. An out-of-the-loop family member served lasagna. Being polite, I ate that lasagna. The first bite left me confused. I liked it. How could I possibly like lasagna? I never liked it. I enjoyed it so much I went up for seconds.
Even more shocking, to me, this lasagna was a frozen one from Costco that my aunt warmed in the oven. I looked at the box while I was getting another serving to eat. It was then I learned the difference. This lasagna had ricotta cheese, sausage, and lots of sauce. Every lasagna I had ever eaten before was made with ground beef and cottage cheese (and wasn’t heavy on the sauce).
From that moment on, I decided I needed to find a lasagna recipe with ricotta that tasted as amazing as one found in a box. A couple of years ago, as I watched The Chew on ABC, Joy Behar was on the show making her lasagna. It looked amazing. I had to try it. Not only did I try it, but I loved it. I loved it more than the frozen lasagna. I loved it more than my husband’s lasagna (which he adjusted for me by using ricotta instead of cottage cheese). I think you will love it, too!
There are two things you need to do straight away. Preheat your oven to 400° and soak your lasagna noodles in hot water. I never boil the noodles ahead of time, and I do not buy the no-cook noodles either. All you need to do is soak 1/2 a box of noodles for at least 30 minutes. That’s it. (Oh, and that’s how long it takes to make the sauce. Perfect!)
As the noodles soak, start working on the sauce. In a large saucepan (or in my case, a deep skillet), heat 2 Tablespoons of olive oil. Add 1 chopped onion and cook over medium heat until it’s translucent. Add 2 minced garlic cloves, stir, and cook for one minute.
Add to the meat 1 can crushed tomatoes (28 oz), 2 cups marinara sauce, 1 6-oz can tomato paste, 1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano, 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil, 1 teaspoon Kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper. Stir together and simmer for 20 minutes.
As the sauce simmers, combine 16-oz ricotta (I used whole milk), 1 cup shredded Parmesan, 1 beaten egg, 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley, 1 teaspoon Kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper.
Bake uncovered for 35 minutes. Let it cool for 5 minutes then serve.
- 1/2 box lasagna noodles
- 1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
- 1 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 lbs bulk sweet Italian sausage
- 1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
- 1 6-oz can tomato paste
- 2 C. marinara sauce (or a 16-oz jar)
- 1/4 C. fresh oregano, chopped
- 1/2 C. fresh basil, chopped
- 1 tsp Kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
- 16-oz ricotta cheese (whole milk)
- 1 C. grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1/4 C. fresh chopped parsley
- 4 C. shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 tsp Kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Soak lasagna noodles in hot tap water.
- Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan.
- Add the onion and cook over medium until translucent.
- Add the garlic and stir for one minute.
- Add the sausage, breaking it up, until it is browned.
- Add the tomatoes, marinara sauce, tomato paste, oregano, basil, salt, and black pepper.
- Simmer uncovered over medium-low heat for 20 minutes.
- While the sauce simmers, combine the ricotta, 1 cup of Parmesan, egg, parsley, salt, and pepper. in a large bowl.
- Once the sauce is done cooking, ladle 1/3 of the meat sauce into a 9x13x2 casserole dish. Spread the sauce over the bottom of the dish.
- Add half the lasagna, covering the sauce.
- Spread half the cheese mixture on top of the noodles. Add half the mozzarella, and half the remaining sauce.
- Repeat the layers.
- Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of Parmesan.
- Bake uncovered for 35 minutes.
- Cook for 5 minutes and serve.