I understand this is a pretty bold statement, but after one bite of this classic cheesy layered lasagna, you’ll see why! I have been on an Italian food kick lately, and I’m okay with that. DJ and I have been thinking of all of the different delicious dishes we could make – the dishes he remembers from his childhood.
I pulled out this lasagna recipe from an old stack of recipes at DJ’s Dad’s house, when we still lived in North Carolina. Our original spaghetti sauce (or Sunday Gravy) was typed on this early 1990’s rainbow bordered paper, and the instructions for making lasagna handwritten on the back. I am always told stories about how everyone hates making lasagna, and how much work it is, and that used to be true.
When I was working at the school, I discovered no-boil lasagna noodles. I was skeptical about them because I have been in fear that my Italian in-laws will disapprove for not boiling my lasagna noodles – but let me tell you what, these things are fantastic! There is a trick though, to give them the same texture as boiled lasagna noodles when baked. I’ll get to that in a little bit.
Is there anything better than baked pasta? Yum! Of course, there are as many ways to make lasagna as there is ways to make, gosh anything! But our family version is as simple as it gets; pasta, sauce, cheese. Whaaaaa? Where’s the meat? Well, if you must have meat, cook and crumble 1 lb of hot Italian sausage, and 1/2 lb ground pork. Drain the fat, and add to sauce. Cook over low heat for 30 minutes to allow all of the flavors to develop.
When I first thought about making lasagna, it looks like a daunting process that would take my whole day – and after everything I heard from my family I was a little scared, but I knew there had to be a better way, and alas, no-boil lasagna noodles.
Like I mentioned earlier, there is a trick to the no-boil noodles, and it truly makes all the difference in the world in your final product. Soak your noodles. Fill a casserole dish thats big enough to fit your lasagna noodles in, with the hottest tap water you can. Let the noodles soak for 10 minutes and then drain. Just be sure to not rinse them off. This process will probably save you about 30-40 minutes of time boiling lasagna noodles.
While lasagna is still more time consuming than spaghetti, it is TOTALLY worth it. Every time. Here is the process of making lasagna in photos incase you’ve never made it before!
Gather your ingredients. Take everything you’re going to need out, and place it on your counter. This will help make making lasagna much easier.
1 box no-boil lasagna noodles
1 32 oz ricotta cheese
1 16 oz mozzarella cheese, divided
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tbsp basil
salt and pepper
4 cups crockpot spaghetti sauce – my Mother-In-Laws’s spaghetti sauce recipe, made in the crockpot!
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a casserole dish large enough to fit lasagna noodles, soak noodles for 10 minutes in the hottest tap water you can get. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, make the cheesy lasagna filling. In a large bowl combine, ricotta cheese, 3 cups mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, eggs, basil, salt and pepper and mix with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula until well combined. If you follow Mom’s Bistro (and you should), this is the same filling as we made for mini spaghetti pies.
Once your cheeses are mixed and your noodles have soaked, it’s time to start assembling. Again, if you follow Mom’s Bistro, you’ll know that our spaghetti sauce is something that is always in the fridge, and always ready to make a meal with. It freezes great, and takes no effort at all, cooking in a crockpot all day. Just mix the tomatoes with some basil and garlic, and set it and forget. Until it’s time to make lasagna that is!
Start assembling your lasagna with a layer of spaghetti sauce.
Next, layer lasagna noodles. I used a 9×9 dish since it is just the three of us, but this recipe actually makes a perfect 9×13 lasagna. I used the remaining ingredients from this to make the mini spaghetti pies (well the filling).
Time for cheese! I like to use my hands for this part, and layer 1 1/4 cup ricotta cheese mixture on top of lasagna noodles. Be careful not to press too hard when layering the cheese, or your noodles will slip, and it will be a mess.
Now, layer 3/4 cup spaghetti sauce over top the cheese. Again, be careful when spreading the sauce not to push too hard.
Continue layering; sauce, noodles, cheese.
On your last layer, top lasagna with 1/2 cup spaghetti sauce and remaining mozzarella cheese.
Bake for 30 minutes covered. Remove foil, and bake an additional 20 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and brown.
Wait 20 minutes. This is probably going to be the hardest part, but waiting 20 minutes after taking your lasagna out of the oven gives it a chance to cool down a little bit, and allows the cheese to firm up, so that when you slice into it, you have perfect pieces of lasagna, every time.
This lasagna can be made up to a day ahead, then covered and refrigerated. It can also be frozen, before baking. When baking a frozen lasagna reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees to 350 degrees, and bake covered for an additional half an hour, or until the center is steaming hot.
Love lasagna? Try these easy bite-sized 3-Cheese Lasagna Rolls. Using all of the ingredients above, these Lasagna Roll Ups are ready in only 30 Minutes, and are a perfect weeknight meal, or as an appetizer at a dinner party.