How to Make A Lasagna - Great for Beginners
How to Make a Lasagna - Easy Enough for Beginners!
Want to know how to make a lasagna but fear it might be too difficult? Well, guess what! Delicious tasting lasagna is a recipe even beginners can make and impress their family and guests.
There's lasagna in the freezer section of your grocery store, and then there's homemade lasagna.
You owe it to yourself to try this recipe.
Leftovers freeze well and the dish tastes even better when you make it a few hours or a day or two ahead.
This recipe is not difficult at all and will most likely join your arsenal of recipe favorites.
From my kitchen to yours, here's how to make a lasagna!
Intro Photo Courtesy JJAVA
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I am not a fan of the "compartmentalized" lasagna pans. I believe everything in the lasagna needs to meld and season together, so I am traditional and use one pan such as those you see here.
In a compartment style pan, you are sectioning off seasonings, cheeses, and the way lasagna was intended to be, but it is totally your call.
This Is Easy!
I added lots of pictures
to make this easier.
The recipe may first appear harder than it is,
but the steps are actually minimal.
So stay with me for a
Great Easy Lasagna Recipe!
VOTE Photo Courtesy of Pix by Marti
I love pasta, including spaghetti, lasagna, mac and cheese, ravioli, can't really think of many pasta dishes I don't like. If you had to choose between spaghetti and lasagna, what would be your pick?
Which is best, lasagna or spaghetti?
There are about 10-12 servings in this recipe.
Homemade Lasagna Ingredients List
- 1 pound LEAN ground beef
- 1 pound LEAN ground pork (I've found this in my local Walmart or you can ask your butcher - this is NOT sausage -- it is ground pork and is different from pork sausage - if you cannot find this, just use more ground beef)
- 3/4 cup chopped onion (optional - we do not eat onions so I omit)
- 1 clove minced fresh garlic (refrigerated jar garlic will do)
- 1 can tomatoes 14.5-16 ounces
- 1 can tomato sauce 15 ounces
- 3 Tablespoons parsley flakes
- 2 Tablespoons sugar
- 1-1/2 teaspoons basil leaves
- 2 each 12-ounce cartons cottage cheese
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (I sometimes grate my own, and sometimes buy in tubs, depends on time availability)
- 1 teaspoon oregano leaves
- 1 package lasagna noodles (I keep a 16 ounce box on hand as it takes a little over 8 ounces in my pan - I keep what I don't use sealed up for another meal)
- 1 pound whole milk mozzarella cheese, shredded
Make Your Own Ground Pork
You can use a meat grinder and make ground pork out of boneless pork chops.
Meat Grinders Come In Handy
In my lens about Kitchen Gadgets, I refer to a meat grinder which I use to grind my own pork and to make sausage among other things. This is a handy tool to have around.
Equipment You'll Need
High Quality Non-Stick Cookware Recommended for Stock Pot/Sauce Pans
- A lasagna pan (I recommend ceramic like those I've listed)
- A stock pot for lasagna noodles to cook in
- A pot for meat sauce (you can use the same pot for noodles and sauce if you plan accordingly to have sauce totally done before you start noodles)
- Colander for draining noodles and fat from meat
Making Lasagna - Cook Meat
Cook beef, pork, onion, and garlic.
Follow Directions Carefully
Some of the ingredients listed are first divided and then added at different stages of the recipe.
Be sure to follow the directions.
Step 1 - Let's Cook the Meat!
Cook and stir beef, pork, garlic, and onion in large Dutch oven or saucepan. I use a deep stew pot to prevent excessive spattering. Once brown, drain off all fat in a colander and wipe pot clean with paper towel. Return meat to pan.
- Cook and stir ground meats, onion, and garlic.
- Once brown, drain fat from meat in colander and wipe pot clean with paper towel.
- Return drained meat to pan.
Meat Has Browned
Drain meat, wipe pan clean with paper towel, return meat to pan.
Step 2 - Let's Make Lasagna Meat Sauce!
Once drained meat is back in pan, it is time to make the sauce!
- Add the canned tomatoes and break up lightly with a fork. Using chopped canned tomatoes is an option.
- Stir in tomato sauce.
- Add 2 Tablespoons parsley flakes, 1 teaspoon of salt, the sugar, and the basil.
- Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
- Simmer uncovered for an hour (or however long it takes to reach spaghetti sauce consistency). I find it takes longer sometimes depending on how much water is in the sauce. You do NOT want a watery sauce. (See Images Further Along In Article)
Making Lasagna Sauce
Add tomatoes and tomato sauce. Stir to mix thoroughly.
Added Tomatoes and Tomato Sauce
This shows the meat, sauce, and tomatoes thoroughly mixed up.
Add Parsley Flakes & Sugar to Sauce Mixture
Now add parsley flakes and sugar.
Add Salt and Basil
Now the salt and basil.
Step 3 - Cottage Cheese Mixture
I do not use ricotta cheese in lasagna. I like cottage cheese instead; it is moister and just a personal preference. I found ricotta to be dry and I am a stickler for cottage cheese in this recipe.
- In a bowl mix together cottage cheese, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese, 1 Tablespoon parsley flakes, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the oregano.
- SAVE 1/2 to 3/4 cup sauce for a thin top layer.
- Place in refrigerator for now.
- Try not to "taste test" too much. We need this for the lasagna.
Grated Parmesan Cheese
NOTE: Only add 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese in this mixture. The remaining 1/2 cup of the Parmesan will be used later on the top of the lasagna.
Where We Are
1. Sauce is simmering and cooking down to spaghetti sauce consistency.
2. Cottage cheese mixture is in frig.
3. Mozzarella cheese is shredded and in frig.
Step 4 - Oooh La La Mozzarella!
Are you sick of me saying that I like whole milk mozzarella?
Okay, just checking. Have it your way.
- Shred your "whole milk mozzarella" cheese.
- Place in airtight container and place in frig.
Make Your Own Homemade Pasta!
This is so much fun and a must try for every cooking enthusiast. Make pasta at home!
Determine Noodle Quantity
Recipe calls for 8 oz noodles, but I do not necessarily go by that.
If you take a 16 oz box of noodles and split in half, you may come up short.
I actually take the pan I plan to use, and then check the width of it in "lasagna noodles."
I know I will be doing at least 3 layers of noodles.
As you can see here my pan is "3 noodles wide."
So I need 9 noodles.
I add an extra to the pot just for good measure in case one gets broken,
but you CAN use a broken lasagna noodle if you must. It will just "bake in" the lasagna.
Sauce Still Needs to Simmer
Excess Water Is Still In Sauce
Keep checking on sauce every now and again. This is starting to get there, but still too watery. We need a thick sauce similar to a really thick spaghetti sauce.
Lasagna Noodles Cooking
Cook lasagna according to package directions. Have a colander on hand for draining.
Noodles Rinsed and Drained
When noodles are done, drain and run cold water over. Let sit.
DO NOT leave noodles in cooking water as they will overcook.
They will be fine in the colander until you are ready for them.
YAY! Sauce is Done
Sauce has reached the consistency of thick spaghetti sauce;
the liquid has cooked out just like we wanted.
You have to be patient; time required can vary based on various factors.
History of Lasagna
Italian? Greek? English?
There are multiple theories on where lasagna hails from. The word "lasagna" is derived from Latin "lasanum" which translates to "cooking pot." Then again, there is another theory that it comes from the Greek word "laganon" which translates to flat pasta dough strips. And still yet, a Greek word "lagana" which means a thin flat variety of unleavened bread.
In Italy, the term "lasagna" first was used to reference the dish the food was made in, but later came to be used for the food itself.
A topic of note is that even though a form of lasagna dates back to a cookbook circa the reign of Richard II (reign from 1377 to 1399), tomatoes were not available in Europe until after Columbus had landed in America in 1492.
It is interesting to note that Kind Richard II's reign began when he was only 10, and ended just before his death in 1400 at the age of 33.
It wasn't until 1692 in Naples that a cookbook was published that contained recipes using tomatoes as an ingredient. It is believed that the sources of these recipes, however, were of Spanish origin.
Primarily the consensus is that it's an Italian dish and traditionally contains meat, cheese, and tomato sauce in between layers of pasta.
Our Cheese Mixtures
Once sauce and noodles are done, remove cheese mixture and mozzarella from refrigerator. These should be in two separate containers.
Start the Layering - Noodles First
GREASE PAN FIRST
I grease my lasagna pan with Crisco before I start layer 1 of noodles.
Layer 2 is Meat Sauce
Don't get too heavy on the meat or cheese layers.
This has to make at least 3 layers, so be careful not to overdo.
You can tell in this photo about how much meat to put in the first layer.
If it is hard to judge, divide meat and cheeses into thirds before you begin layering.
Layer 3 - Next Comes Mozzarella
Remember to portion out as cheese has to stretch into multiple layers.
As it bakes and cheese melts, it will all "meld" and blend together.
Layer 4 is Cottage Cheese Mix
Don't try to fill the pan; this is to last through multiple layers.
Divide into thirds if you think you might use too much so you don't come up short.
Add Reserve Meat Sauce and Add Parmesan
You only have 1/2 cup of sauce in reserve,
so it will not cover the entire top of the lasagna.
Just spoon it into multiple locations around the top surface area.
This is where we add the other 1/2 cup of the Parmesan.
Cover With Foil and Refrigerate
Lasagna is best if it can refrigerate for at least 24 hours,
but it is not absolutely mandatory.
Even 30 minutes or so of refrigeration is better than none at all.
If you want the best taste, the longer you can refrigerate before baking the better.
I often make it early in the morning and refrigerate until evening's supper hour.
If your work schedule does not permit that, then maybe try making on the weekend or the night before.
Wait... that's it?
Sure! Told You This Was Easy!
And Now! (Drum Roll Please...) Bake Your Lasagna!
When it is nearing time to eat, you can prepare a nice green salad and have ready a loaf of fresh French bread to be served with room temperature butter or Brummel and Brown spread.
- Bake lasagna without cover for 45-50 minutes. If lasagna has been refrigerated for more than 2-3 hours, allow an additional 10-15 minutes.
- Allow lasagna to cool for 15-25 minutes as cutting will be easier after lasagna sits.
Freeze Leftovers for A Quick Lunch or Supper
I freeze single or double portion sizes of lasagna if any is left over using my handy dandy Food Saver.
With the Food Saver, there's no freezer burn. It is a great way to store meats, veggies, and much more.
Use Food Saver for Leftovers! - No Freezer Burn!
I use the Food Saver to store veggies, meats, leftovers, and more.
It is a great appliance to have in your kitchen and saves on your food dollar
with less spoilage and freezer throw outs.
Thanks for the Angel Blessings!
We are never so lost our angels cannot find us. Stephanie Powers