Not Yo Mama’s Lasagna

…..Or is it?

Anyone who knows me, knows good and well that if a dish has some form of pasta in it, chances are it’s my favorite. Lasagna is no exception.

There are just so many reasons so love lasagna. A little saucey, meaty, cheesy, pasta-y goodness in every bite. What’s there not to love?! Doesn’t hurt that it’s a budget friendly way to feed a lot of people.

Besides my love for pasta, I have a deep love for foods that are freezer friendly. I have three freezers, yeup you read that right three freezers, full of meals, sauces and broths that I can grab on any given night and either defrost and eat immediately or spruce it up with just a few extra ingredients. Let’s face it we don’t always have time or feel like cooking things from scratch.

Lasagna is the perfect freezer friendly meal. Assemble it and freeze before cooking or cook and cool completely before wrapping in cling wrap and freeze. Defrost it in the refrigerator the night before and bake just in time for dinner. Another option is to cook it, cool it in the refrigerator overnight. The next day slice into individual portions, wrap each piece in cling wrap and freeze. That way when you need just one serving, you have it ready at your fingertips.

This recipe is a labor of love and not quiet traditional, but oh so worth it! Not to mention it is so versatile. I know adding muenster cheese might sound strange but it was a happy accident when someone at Shoprite accidentally labeled the muenster as mozzarella, and of course I was too lazy to head back out to the store so I stuck with it. Needless to say, i never turned back, thanks Shoprite! If you don’t like or cant eat pork feel free to leave it out and replace it with more beef, veal or even lamb. Feel free to substitute the meat for chicken or turkey, you’re the boss apple sauce.

If you are on a gluten free diet or just trying to avoid gluten in general, don’t fret! This recipe works amazingly with gluten free pasta sheets, my favorite brand is Jovial. They offer organic, brown rice pasta in all shapes and sizes, you can hardly tell its not made from wheat!

Now that were are all caught up on just some of the reasons to love lasagna, let’s make it!

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb sweet Italian sausage
  • 1 large onion (about 1 cup)
  • 1 (28oz) can crushed tomatoes (or pulse whole tomatoes in food processor)
  • 2 (6oz) cans tomato paste
  • 1 (24oz) jar of tomato passata (purée)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ cup fresh basil ( or 1 teaspoon dried basil)
  • ⅓ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • Approximately 18 lasagna noddles
  • 1 (28 oz) container whole milk ricotta
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 lb low moisture mozzarella slices
  • 3/4 lb muenster cheese slices
  • 1 cup grated parmesan
  • 3 teaspoons salt , divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper, divided

Instructions

  1. In a dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot, cook onions, beef and sausage until well browned. Do not rush this step, this is where big flavors develop. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, passata and water. Add 2 teaspoons salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, basil and oregano. Simmer on low for about 45 min – 1 hr , uncovered, stirring often.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook noodles for about 10 minutes or until a little before al dente. Do not over cook the noodles here. Drain and rinse with cold water.
  3. Preheat oven to 375F degrees.
  4. In a bowl combine ricotta, eggs, parsley, ¼ teaspoon pepper and 1 teaspoon salt.
  5. To assemble spread ⅓ of the meat sauce in the bottom on a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Arrange 6 noodles lengthwise over meat sauce, allowing them to overlap slightly. Spread ⅓ of the ricotta mixture over the noodles. Top with ⅓ of the mozzarella and 1/2 of the muenster cheese, sprinkle liberally with grated parmesan. Repeat the layers until you’re top layer is the rest of the ricotta mixture, mozzarella and parmesan.
  6. Spray foil with non stick spray or oil, this will insure that the cheese does not stick to the foil. Cover tightly
  7. Bake covered for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 25 minutes until cheese starts to brown in some spots. Cool slightly before serving.

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