Lasagna Alforno Recipe
History of Lasagna
Did you know the Greeks had a word, "lasagnum"? It was a word they used for a certain dish or bowl. The Romans used this word to describe a 'dish' they made that had layers. As the Roman Empire spread so did "lasagnum". Eventually Italians changed the word from "lasagnum" to "lasagna" and used it for a multi-layered dish they made. Further research tells us that lasagna was one of the first recipes included in a cookbook made in, of all places, England. The lasagna recipe used most today is said to have come from North Central Italy.
Now you're wondering, not being Italian how did I come across this delectable dish? I grew up in a German household in a German neighborhood. I never even heard of lasagna until I was 16! I was at my (then) boyfriend's house and his mother made lasagna for dinner. It was love at first bite! I had to learn how to make this wonderful dish (which I did) and cook it for my family (which I also did). It was the very first thing I ever cooked and needless to say, I'm cooking it still!
This is my recipe...maybe a little stilted, maybe not, but this is how I make it.
“Once again, my life has been saved by the miracle of lasagna.”— Garfield
- 2 lbs lasagna noodles
- 2 lbs ground beef, high quality; ground sirloin or 95% fat free
- 52 ozs tomato sauce, I like to use two different kinds for extra flavor
- 1 lb shredded mozzarella cheese, fresh mozzarella is best but packaged will do
- 40 ozs ricotta cheese, fresh is nice but store but works fine
- 1 cup chopped onion, optional
- 1 lb sausage, optional
- 2 eggs
- sprinkling Italian seasoning
From Lasagna Noodle box
|Serving size: 2 oz|
|Calories from Fat||18|
|% Daily Value *|
|Fat 2 g||3%|
|Saturated fat 0 g|
|Unsaturated fat 0 g|
|Carbohydrates 42 g||14%|
|Sugar 2 g|
|Fiber 2 g||8%|
|Protein 7 g||14%|
|Cholesterol 0 mg|
|* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.|
- Cook lasagna noodles in large pot; add to boiling salted water until noodles are soft; rinse immediately with cold water after removing from pot
- While noodles are cooking brown and chop meat (you want small pieces); if you are going to use the onion and/or sausage add to meat while meat is browning; when browned drain any fat
- Add sauce to browned meat reserving a small amount of sauce; now you have a meaty tomato sauce with a small reserve
- Add eggs and a sprinkle of Italian seasoning to ricotta cheese, mix and set aside
- When noodles have cooled and meat is brown add some plain tomato sauce to the bottom of a lasagna pan (a pan at least 13x9) and add first layer of plain noodles
- Cover noodles with some meat sauce from one end of the pan to the other; sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top of meat sauce
- Add next layer of noodles; cover noodles with ricotta mixture and sprinkle with mozzarella sauce (again from one end of the pan to the other...you want to make sure you are completely covering your layer of noodles)
- Continue until pan is full. If your pan isn't deep enough you can use another pan....if your pan is large you can add lasagna noodles in a "T" formation (mine is 14x12x2 and I do that)
- Sprinkle top layer with remainder of mozzarella cheese and cover pan with tin foil (you can also add any left over ricotta and/or noodles to top layer - see photos)
- Bake in pre-warmed 375 degree oven for approximately 35 to 45 minutes. Check to see if lasagna is bubbly (showing its nice and hot); if you want the top slightly browned uncover and cook and additional 10 minutes, checking at 5 minutes to be sure its the way you want it
- Let cool about 5 minutes and enjoy!
Remember, if the sauce doesn't cover the noodles, the lasagna dries out!
Lasagna Recipes and Hints
There are a multitude of lasagna recipes and many can be found right here on Hub Pages. Lasagna is a popular dish and there are many variations but the basic ingredients are usually the same. The cooks who spend more time in the kitchen and like to do a lot of their own cooking will make their own sauce for this dish. There are also some good Italian cooks with their own noodle makers who will make their own noodles! My son-in-law's grandmother does this and the noodles are amazing.
Restaurant lasagna can give home cooked a run for its money. I have to admit the very best restaurant lasagna I ever had was in a little restaurant in Greenwich Village, many years ago. Surprisingly the second best I ever had was in a restaurant in Ireland. So it is obvious to conclude lasagna is a favorite worldwide. Never pass up this dish!
Of course there are many variations in the ingredients you can use. For example, you can use ground turkey instead of ground beef. Many people enjoy vegetable lasagna and use mixed greens including spinach and kale or whatever combination suits your palate.
There are noodles that don't need cooking, the "no boil" noodles. They certainly save time and can be easier to handle but require just a bit more sauce.
Be sure to cover your lasagna when baking so its doesn't get too brown or dry. You can uncover for the last ten to fifteen minutes to get that browning and to make sure all the cheese on top is melted.
Did you know you can build your lasagna ahead of time and keep it in the refrigerator until you're ready to cook it? I would certainly limit that to one or two days, one being the best so your noodles don't get soggy.
Did you know you can cook lasagna in a slow cooker? Prepare the same way, layer in the slow cooker, cook for approximate three to three and a half hours. Now there's two things here, first, you don't have to cook the noodles and second you have to make sure they're cooked before you serve your lasagna. You can insert a knife to see if the noodles are done. I keep saying I'm going to try this but haven't yet. If you do, let me know how it comes out.
If you want a "meaty" flavor without the meat, use mushrooms.
One way to cut calories a bit is to substitute cottage cheese for ricotta.
Purists and those who like home cooked only will agree its the best way to have lasagna. My husband insists mine is the best. Give it a try to I'll bet you'll find yours can be the best too.
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