Lasagna – It’s all in the layers

Woohoo!! 100th post! Awesome post for an awesome milestone! Go me!

Oh lasagna, you ooey gooey saucy hot mess of flavor! I love you so! I often think of Garfield and try to achieve a lasagna that even he would go nuts over. It’s taken a long time but I feel as if I’m getting a little closer to my goal with each try.

Lasagna seems a simple enough idea until you try it. First, it’s pretty involved. Expect to use practically every pan you own. On the bright side, there is often leftovers. Oddly,  lasagna is one of those meals that actually tastes better reheated after a day in the fridge. I don’t know why, but it’s true. The layers seem more defined, I guess. That’s the only way I can think to describe it.

Lasagna. The dos and don'ts of this classic cold weather dish! Easy, flavorful, and oh so comforting. Small Town Girl Blog

Then there’s that tricky layer of ricotta. Some say include it in every layer, some say every other layer. Does it go before or after the sauce? What do you mix with it? How do you just make it work??? I’ve tried a bunch of different techniques and have found 2 that are definite keepers.

1. IMG_3670Dry out your ricotta. If it’s too wet, it will make your lasagna sloshy. To accomplish this I spread the ricotta on a plate and put a couple paper towels over it for an hour or two. It’s surprising how much water is in the cheese. I replaced the towels a couple times each layer was well soaked after 15 minutes! When I started to work with the cheese, I noticed a significant difference in the texture.

2. Only have 1 layer of ricotta. Many recipes say there should be a ricotta layer in between each set of noodles. This becomes ricotta overkill and typically results in a mushy lasagna.

 

Lasagna. The dos and don'ts of this classic cold weather dish! Easy, flavorful, and oh so comforting. Small Town Girl Blog

The real key to making an epic lasagna, is figuring out your layer order. Each bite of lasagna should be that perfect blend of meat, sauce, noodles, and cheese. If the layers aren’t correct, the whole dish falls apart in my opinion. After extensive research and oh so much trial and error, I am happy to present my best bet so far.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 lb beef
  • 1 tbsp each: oregano, basil, rosemary (or 3 tbsp of an Italian blend of herbs)
  • 1/2 yellow onion chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves chopped, divided
  • 9 lasagna noodles boiled al dente
  • 2 cans of your favorite marinara sauce (roughly 48 oz)
  • 1 16 oz container ricotta
  • 4 tbsp pesto
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup parmesan shredded
  • 4-5 cups mozzarella shredded (or a blend of Italian white cheeses)

Time: 1.5 hours: 3o mins prep, 1 hour cooking

Servings: 6-8 (depending on how big you like your pieces)

Instructions:

About an hour  before cooking, spread out ricotta on a plate and place a couple paper towels over it to soak up some of the moisture.

Preheat oven to 375.

Prepare lasagna noodles according to package directions.

In a skillet crumble and cook beef, onion, herbs, and 2 diced garlic cloves.

Lasagna. The dos and don'ts of this classic cold weather dish! Easy, flavorful, and oh so comforting. Small Town Girl Blog

While beef is cooking, put 1.5 cans of marinara sauce in a sauce pan and warm up.

After beef is cooked through, drain and add to marinara sauce.

Lasagna. The dos and don'ts of this classic cold weather dish! Easy, flavorful, and oh so comforting. Small Town Girl Blog

Simmer until you are ready to assemble lasagna.

In a bowl mix ricotta, egg, pesto, 2 diced garlic cloves, and parmesan cheese.

Lasagna. The dos and don'ts of this classic cold weather dish! Easy, flavorful, and oh so comforting. Small Town Girl Blog

Now it’s time to layer your lasagna!

Use a 9×13 pan

Spread the extra 1/2 marinara from the can on the bottom of your pan as the first layer.

IMG_3692

Next lay out your first layer of noodles and cover with meat sauce.

Lasagna. The dos and don'ts of this classic cold weather dish! Easy, flavorful, and oh so comforting. Small Town Girl Blog

Add a generous layer of mozzarella.

Lasagna. The dos and don'ts of this classic cold weather dish! Easy, flavorful, and oh so comforting. Small Town Girl Blog

Then another layer of noodles topped with the ricotta blend.

Sprinkle with more mozzerella.

IMG_3701

Using a slotted spoon, add some meat and veggie chunks from the sauce pan.

Lasagna. The dos and don'ts of this classic cold weather dish! Easy, flavorful, and oh so comforting. Small Town Girl Blog

One more layer of noodles and add the rest of the sauce… and don’t put the last cheese layer on yet! You heard me! You are going to cook the lasagna without the epic top cheese layer first!! Cover it with foil, cut a few vents and bake for 30 minutes.

IMG_3705

Take the pan out and remove the foil. Doesn’t that layered look just make you drool?

Lasagna. The dos and don'ts of this classic cold weather dish! Easy, flavorful, and oh so comforting. Small Town Girl Blog

Now put on that epic last layer of mozzerella cheese! I like to add a little garlic salt and parmesan to the top for extra flavor.

IMG_3715

Bake for another 20-30 minutes until cheese is browned and bubbly.

Enjoy!!

Lasagna. The dos and don'ts of this classic cold weather dish! Easy, flavorful, and oh so comforting. Small Town Girl Blog

3 thoughts on “Lasagna – It’s all in the layers

  1. Pingback: Host Favorite Recipes and Crafts - Daily Dish Magazine

  2. My family loves lasagna, but I’ve never added pesto. I’ll definitely give that a try since I usually have pesto on hand for their veggies. Thanks for sharing on Merry Monday.

  3. Pingback: 10 Epic Cheese Recipes for National Cheese Day! | The Ramblings of an Aspiring Small Town Girl

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