Most of the time I slow things way down here. I wax nostalgic about mint browniesfrom college, or I describe settling down for a cup of peppermint hot cocoa and a piece of shortbread. I remind myself and all of us to enjoy every bite, savoring how good real food is.
Lasagna is one of my favorite comfort foods. It’s lovely to make on a cooler day, since your oven with be on for over an hour. And it makes your kitchen smell amazing, like you have been transported to Italy.
But sometimes your kids are hungry and you need to feed your family some dinner! If I had more time, I would roll out some gluten-free noodles, but I am still working on the recipe. So for now I am using store-bought rice lasagna noodles. I don’t even think my husband will notice!
You can assemble this dish in the morning and store it in the refrigerator, and then bake it later at dinnertime. This also reheats very well, and is a great dish send with your kids to school or to take to work for a hot lunch.
- large baking dish and parchment-lined aluminum foil
- glass mixing bowls
- jelly roll pan and parchment paper
Classic Italian Lasagna
8-10 large lasagna noodles, gluten-free if possible
5 cups marinara sauce, divided (buy organic pizza/pasta sauce here)
2 cups chopped frozen spinach, thawed
2 cups ground beef, cooked with salt and pepper, and cooled (buy grass-fed beef here)
2 cups ricotta cheese
salt and pepper to taste (buy unrefined sea salt and organic peppers here)
6 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
dried oregano (buy organic herbs here)
dried basil (buy organic herbs here)
- Preheat oven to 350. Butter a large baking dish and set aside. Butter a large piece of aluminum foil on the dull side and set aside.
- In two large bowls, divide marinara sauce to put 2 cups in one and 3 cups in another. Add the spinach and ground beef to the larger bowl of sauce. Set both bowls aside.
- In another bowl, combine ricotta, eggs, and salt and pepper to taste, stirring well. For simplicity, put the shredded mozzarella in a separate bowl as well, so you can easily assemble the lasagna.
- Assemble: In the buttered large baking dish, cover the bottom with a thin layer of plain marinara sauce. Dollop 1/3 of the ricotta mixture and spread out in a thin layer as much as possible. Layer 1/2 lasanga noodles over the sauce, covering it completely. Ladle 1/2 the meat sauce over the noodles, another 1/3 of the ricotta mixture smoothed out, then sprinkle with 1/3 the mozzarella cheese. Now ladle more plain sauce over the cheese, cover with the remaining 1/2 lasagna noodles, and then cover the noodles with the remaining 1/2 meat sauce. Then dollop the remaining 1/3 ricotta and spread out, and top with another 1/3 of the shredded mozzarella. But you’re not done! Ladle the remaining plain sauce over the entire lasagna, sprinkle with the remaining 1/3 mozzarella, and finally the parmesan cheese. Sprinkle with a little oregano, basil, and black pepper to flavor the cheese crust that results after baking.
- Cover the lasagna with the parchment-lined foil with the parchment side down, and place on a parchment-lined jelly roll pan (in case the lasagna bubbles over).
- Bake for 55 minutes, covered. This ensures all the lasagna fully cooks and the flavors meld. Then pull the foil off and bake for an additional 15 minutes uncovered. This gives the lasagna a lovely browned color.
- Remove from the oven and let sit on a cooling rack for at least 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with a little more parmesan cheese, and serve.