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How To Make... "My Love Lasagna"
What's In It?
First let me start with the name of this dish, My Love Lasagna. I call it that because the first time I made it was for a girlfriend I had at the time I thought it up. I want to impress her with my cooking skills. I was in culinary school at the time and was learning how to make pasta from scratch and wanted her to taste the difference fresh pasta made. I didn't re-invent lasagna, I just poured my love in to the preparation of it. The recipe lasted longer than that relationship did and has gotten even better reviews since the first time I used it.
In my original recipe I made my ricotta cheese, red gravy (Tomato Sauce) and pasta from scratch. You can check back to my Hubpages soon for the ricotta, red gravy and pasta recipes. Here in this hub I'll be giving you the short version. All the ingredients can be found in your local supermarket. It produces the exact quality dish in a fraction of the time. This recipe will make one 9X13 casserole pan or two 9X9 casserole pans and serves between 4-12 depending on which pans used and whether you cook both 9X9 at the same time. One 9X9 easily serves 4-6 adults. This recipe also has time saving options. You see what I mean as you continue to read on.
Make sure you read completely through before you begin.
Alright, now for the list of ingredients.
The Red Gravy Layers
- 2 1/2 lbs. Ground Beef
- 1/2 Spanish or Yellow Onion
- 2 tbsp chopped Oregano
- 1/2 bunch chopped Basil
- 1 jar Spaghetti Sauce
- 1/2 cup Sugar
- My Secret Ingredient
You have to comment to find out what My Secret Ingredient is.
The recipe still works without it though.
The Cheesey Goodness Layers
- 2 large Egg Whites
- 30 oz. Tub Ricotta Cheese
- 4 cups. Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
- 2 cup Shaved Parmesan Cheese
- 1/2 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
- 1 bunch of Italian Parsley
What goes in both
- 1/2 whole Garlic Clove
- Salt to taste
- Pepper to taste
- 1 package of Lasagna Noodles
- 1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 3 Tbsp Salt
Step by Step
The prep is probably the longest part of most meals, this one is no different. I separated the ingredients list by which layers you'll be using them in.
If you decide to use dry vs fresh herbs, which will save lots of time but in turn you sacrifice on flavor. If fresh herbs is your choice, start by chopping up the fresh herbs, onions, and garlic.
** Keeping your herbs separated until you're ready to use them where they go.
IF you are using all dry herbs, now is a good time to season your meat. To do so fold in the salt, pepper, oregano, and basil. If you're not using dry spices, just season with salt & pepper. Either way use your hands in order to separate the meat well. When you cook the meat you want it to be more crumbles than clumps.
Next you want to start your water to boil, if you're using dry lasagna noodles. Skip this if you are using no-boil lasagna noodles.
** I suggest a no-boil noodles, which is basically a pre-made al denté pasta you can usually find in your pasta section at your local supermarket. Barilla is my favorite brand, but use whatever brand you like.
Now, on a low flame, heat a large saute pan, lightly coated with extra virgin olive oil and saute half the garlic you diced or minced and all of the onions .
Once your onions turn somewhat transparent, add your seasoned ground beef to the pan and stir continually for 3-5 minutes or until the majority of the blood has cooked out. You don't have to worry about cooking the meat all the way through. It will feel heat again very shortly. If it were a steak it should be brought to a medium rare pink and removed from the flame.
While the meat cools we'll wash our hands then start flavoring and mixing our cheese layer ingredients. In a large mixing bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, salt, pepper (white pepper if you have any on hand), the remainder of your garlic, half of your chopped parsley, and 1/4 cup of the grated Parmesan cheese. Whisk all these ingredients and taste test to determine if you are satisfied with the your salt & pepper amounts. If you are than go ahead a whip in 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese, 1 cup of shaved Parmesan cheese and the two large egg whites.
If you're using dry noodles, by now your water should be at a full boil or close to it. Once it is, add your olive oil and salt. Put your lid back on your pot, turn it down to medium and set those noodles back down. Before you tend to the noodles, you need to set the meat to drain. You'll need a mesh strainer or a colander with a cheese cloth lining.
After you've got the grease draining from your meat, spin back to you boiling water and start dropping in your lasagna noodles. Turn the flame back to high and re-lid for 2-4 minutes and stir frequently. A decent al denté shouldn't take more than 6-8 minutes.
In between stirs, get back to your draining meat. Once most the draining grease has stop place the ground beef into a 4-6 quart pot. You're going to need your colander in a minute, so now is a good time to get it clean and ready.
Drain your pasta now and lay flat on plastic wrap or wax paper while it cools.
You should have your meat in a large sauce pan, add all but 1cup of your red gravy now. Turn the flame on, and set to a low simmer. Add the basil and oregano now, if you chose to use fresh herbs. Add the sugar now, as well. Here's where I add my secret ingredient. If you comment on this hub and I have a way to respond to you I will give you the secret ingredient if you ask nicely.
Get ready to Assemble ...
Turn your oven on and allow to preheat to 400°F.
Now take some time to make room, to assemble your lasagna. Get your casserole pan ready to fill. Pour the cup of red gravy, you saved, in the bottom of your casserole pan(s), covering the bottom of the casserole pan as evenly as possible. This will help your lasagna from sticking to the pan.
Next lay in your noodles, overlapping at the ridges and touching all sides of your casserole pan. Now take your red meat gravy and spread on top of the noodles, a 1/2 inch deep layer. Then another layer of noodles. Follow with a layer of the ricotta cheese mix, in the same fashion as the red meat gravy, 1/2 inch deep. Repeat layering until your pans are full or you run out of layering foods.
Your last layer will be covered with half your remaining shredded mozzarella and shaved Parmesan. Be sure to leave room for it. You don't want it bubbling over, out and down into the bottom of your oven.
Now cover your casserole pan with aluminum foil. Place in preheated oven for 35-45 minutes.
Remove from oven, take off foil, spread remaining cheeses on top and place back in oven. Crank your oven up to broil, let cheese melt and brown on top for 3-5 minutes. Should only be a golden brown. Once you've achieved your golden brown remove, sprinkle remaining parsley on top for garnish and let cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.
Yours should look something like mine, the picture on top. MANGIARE!
- Make Your Own Ricotta Cheese
This maybe one of the most simple recipes to make. I put it right up there with hard boiled eggs and boiled water, itself. Although, it does require a degree or patience and attention..