Traditional Lasagna

Wayyy back in early blogging days here at The Three Bite Rule I did a post about lasagna, circa 2011. I shared some tips on how to build a better lasagna. I figured that old post, with terrible photos deserved a redo. Lasagna is one of my favorite foods. I absolutely love the combination of flavors. The meat and noodles, and ricotta, and melty mozzarella are all my favorite parts! Also, not eating red meat means I can’t usually order it at restaurants.

Since that old post I blogged a butternut squash lasagna which I totally love.
The Three Bite Rule - Butternut Squash Lasagna

I also posted some lasagna tips in my father-in-law’s honor. He tested Italian restaurants by their lasagna, and I’m proud to say he liked mine!
lasagna_piece_290_200

I did a white chicken lasagna with spinach that had some amazing flavors in a comforting dish.
The Three Bite Rule - White Chicken Lasagna
You know how they say not to grocery shop when you’re hungry? I advise not to start lasagna when you’re hungry. It isn’t hard, but it dirties a lot of dishes, takes some prep time and some bake time, and is a “labor” of love to get assembled. When I made this lasagna  recently, I had already eaten a really simple dinner before whipping up lasagna.

You always could split up the work into 2 by assembling one night and baking for the first time another night when you have the oven on already. It might sound nuts but it is more fun when you aren’t trying to hurry up. I alwayssss make 2 smaller lasagnas. I prep one for early use and another for the freezer. I think lasagna is amazing as leftovers and can really be baked a few times (at a low temperature) to taste even better.

I have some adaptations and a few cooking tips. I apologize in advance that once again while making 2 lasagnas my pictures ended up as a mix between the two. Don’t get thrown off when you see an entirely different pan enter the photos. Oops! This is a recipe I totally recommend reading through, doing your prep and this will seem much easier. Make a few different lasagnas for your next gathering and you’ll be relieved by how all the prep happens in advance (as in days in advance). Poof. Instant dinner.

Ingredients:

3/4 pound ground chicken/pork/beef
3 sweet Italian sausage links, removed from casing
1 pound lasagna noodles
2 cups ricotta cheese
1 egg
~10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
28 oz Pastene Kitchen Ready Tomatoes
6 oz tomato paste
1 cup alfredo sauce (jarred or make yourself)
1/2 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup milk
16 oz shredded mozzarella
3 cups baby spinach

Directions:

Boil water for pasta if using traditional noodles and cook according to package (I used no-cook lasagna pasta sheets)
The Three Bite Rule - Traditional Lasagna
In a large skillet, over medium heat, brown ground meat, draining any excess grease. Then brown sausage, drain, and mix with cooked ground meat. Don’t overcook as the whole lasagna will bake again. Just cook through.
The Three Bite Rule - Traditional Lasagna
In a large pot gently warm tomatoes and tomato paste over low.
Mix ricotta, egg, basil, salt, and pepper together.
The Three Bite Rule - Traditional Lasagna
Set up your ingredients into a mini assembly line. I suggest prepping/planning your layers before you start layering. It also helps to do some math to know how many noodle sheets you’ll need per layer. It is wicked annoying to get to the end, aka the top, and be short on pasta layers.
In a 13×9 pan (or 2 9×9 pans to make one & freeze one) spray with non-stick spray and ladle some tomato sauce, topping with noodles.
The Three Bite Rule - Traditional Lasagna
Drizzle on half the alfredo sauce.
Layer on some of the meat mixture (about 3/4 of it) and sprinkle with just a bit of mozzarella
The Three Bite Rule - Traditional Lasagna
Top with the cream of chicken soup mixed with milk “sauce” and more noodles (don’t skip this, it will be your secret ingredient to add a different creamy/rich/dynamic flavor).
Add some marinara to the layer and spread on the ricotta mixture.
The Three Bite Rule - Traditional Lasagna
Top with more noodles, a drizzle of alfredo, mozzarella, and spinach.
The Three Bite Rule - Traditional Lasagna
Sprinkle on the rest of the meat mixture, and mozzarella.
Add on the noodles for the top, with marinara on the very top.
The Three Bite Rule - Traditional Lasagna
Bake 350-degrees for 45 minutes covered.
The Three Bite Rule - Traditional Lasagna
Uncover, top with mozzarella (if eating right then) and bake another 10 minutes (or until cheese is melted).
The Three Bite Rule - Traditional Lasagna


Tip if enjoying another night:
bake the 45 minutes, let cool, refrigerate to eat within a few days. On the night it is served, bake again for 30 min at 350-degrees to heat through, uncover, top with mozzarella, and bake another 10 minutes.
Tip if enjoying weeks/a few months later: bake the 45 minutes, let cool, then freeze. The day before serving, defrost by switching the lasagna from the freezer to the refrigerator for 24-hours. Then bake 30-45 minutes at 350-degrees until heated through. Uncover, top with mozzarella, and bake another 10 minutes.

some suggested adaptations: 
traditional lasagna + sautéed onions/leeks/eggplant/zucchini – spinach = more veggie centered recipe
traditional lasagna + meat and tomato sauce mixed + ricotta & alfredo mixed = easier layering recipe
traditional lasagna – meat + chopped mushrooms = vegetarian lasagna
traditional lasagna – sheets of lasagna – ricotta mixture + cheese ravioli = easy weeknight assembly option
traditional lasagna – sheets of lasagna + short pasta (rigatoni or penne or ziti) = instant lasagna
traditional lasagna – sweet Italian sausage + hot Italian sausage + pepperoni = lasagna with some zing!

The Three Bite Rule - Traditional Lasagna
Phew! That’s it. Those are my tips. Enjoy one of my favorite foods! Any family traditional ingredients I’m missing?

3 thoughts on “Traditional Lasagna

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