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Homemade Italian Lasagna Bolognese is the perfect Italian comfort food for Sunday dinner. It feeds a crowd, can be made in advance and is really one of the most delicious combinations of a delicious homemade bolognese or marinara sauce and pasta. Lasagna (also spelled Lasagne), is literally a meal all by itself. But no Italian dinner would be complete without all of the trimmings of an antipasto, delicious salads, wine and family and friends. Enjoy it anyway you like, but please, make your own. You'll be so glad you did. Watch my video to see how to make the best lasagna ever. The recipe details are below.
For Meat Sauce (Bolognese Sauce)
1 box (1lb.) of dried lasagna noodles, cooked al dente
1 pound of ground beef
1 pound of ground veal
1 pound pork sausage, removed from casing
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium-sized onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 (6oz) can tomato paste
2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
1 cup red wine
2 cups beef stock
2 dried bay leaves
1/2 cup fresh chopped basil or 2 teaspoons dried basil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
Sprinkle of red pepper flakes (optional)
For Ricotta Filling
1 (2 pound) container of whole milk ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper
For Topping and Filling:
1 block (16 oz.) mozzarella, shredded
In a medium size pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and sauté with a wooden spoon until crumbled and browned. Add the ground beef and ground pork. Sprinkle with a good amount of salt and pepper. Brown for a few minutes, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon but leaving it very chunky. Once the meat is brown, add the onions, garlic, celery, and carrots. Give it another sprinkle of salt and pepper. Sauté until all the vegetables are soft, about 3-4 minutes.
Then, turn up heat and add the wine being sure to stir and scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Simmer for 2 minutes, turn down the heat then add the beef stock, the crushed tomatoes, the tomato paste, fresh basil and bay leaves.
Simmer uncovered over low heat stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour.
While your sauce is cooking, preheat oven to 350°F
Then, cook pasta in a large pot of salted water for only about 5 min, (making sure it stays al dente). Remove from pot, drain in a strainer and rinse with cold water. Place the pasta in a in bowl and drizzle with olive oil to keep the pieces from sticking to one another. Set aside.
To make filling:
Mix ricotta, eggs, Parmesan, and parsley in a bowl until combined. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
Spray a 9 x 13 baking pan with cooking spray. Spread a thin coating of the meat sauce on the bottom of the baking pan.
Cover with a row of lasagna noodles following the length of the pan and slightly overlapping them (like roof shingles).
Spread 1/2 of the ricotta mixture on top of the noodles, sprinkle with 1/3 of the mozzarella and a light sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.
Repeat with another layer of sauce, then layer the noodles in the opposite direction trimming them to fit into the pan.
Top with the remainder of ricotta cheese mixture and spread to cover the noodles, add 1/3 of the mozzarella, another sprinkle of Parmesan and another layer of sauce. Top the final layer with the noodles running the length of the pan. Top with some more sauce and another sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.
Cover with foil and bake for about 40 minutes or until hot and bubbling. Remove from oven. Uncover and sprinkle the remainder of the mozzarella over the top of the lasagna and put back in the oven for 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted and slightly browned. Remove and allow to cool for 20-30 minutes before slicing and serving.
The sauce recipe will make enough for 2 lasagnas, so you can freeze the remainder of the sauce for some other meal (like pasta with Bolognese sauce), or make two lasagnas by doubling ingredients for the filling and noodles.
Lasagna can be assembled a day or two ahead of time. Don't bake it just assemble, cover and refrigerate or freeze. When ready to bake, remove lasagna 30 minutes before baking from the refrigerator. If you freeze the assembled lasagna, remove it 1 hour prior to baking.
Vegetables can be easily chopped in a food processor or with a hand chopper
If sauce seems too thick, add a little more beef stock. If it's too thin, allow it to cook longer.