Quarantine Cooking: Lasagna

Little known Italian recipe you probably haven't heard of

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JACQUI THOMASSON

A piece of homemade lasagna and a couple slices of garlic bread make the perfect meal. Up your Italian food game by saying good-bye to its frozen counterpart.

JACQUI THOMASSON, Evergreen chief layout editor

Not too long ago, I thought I was sentenced to subpar, frozen lasagnas unless I went to a nice Italian joint. The sauce in these confines just never had the best taste to me, and I thought making my own lasagna was pretty far-fetched.

Well, buckle up because this layered monstrosity will be well worth the work, and, to be honest, it’s really not that bad. I’ve also made it with extreme amounts of substitutes (Not enough ricotta cheese but have cream cheese on hand? Need to use more of the sliced sandwich stuff?) so don’t be afraid to put your own twist on it.

Additionally, everyone has their own preferred ratios. I definitely like to see more meat in mine, and I don’t really opt for tomato paste as long as I’m using a thicker marinara sauce. The measurements are pretty loose here, but this is what you’ll want to have in your fridge before starting. Don’t worry, Garfield would be proud of anything you make with this.

  • 1 box of lasagna noodles
  • 1 package of Italian sausage
  • 1 package of ground beef
  • 1 bag of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 jars of marinara sauce
  • 1 container of ricotta cheese
  • Spices (anything garlic, oregano, etc.)
  • 13-by-9 inch pan, I prefer glass so you can see those beautiful layers

Now it’s time to put this baby together.

  1. To start, you’ll want to put some water to boil. You don’t want to have to break the lasagna noodles, so use a big enough pot that you can set them in before gently pushing down with a spoon so they’re completely submerged. You may have to wait for a second for them to become more pliable and accomplish this. Adding some minced garlic will also elevate the flavor of the noodles a bit.
  2. Cook your ground beef and Italian sausage. The sausage that’s not in any casings works best for these to mix together easily, and without having to cut anything – it usually comes pre-seasoned. But since the ground beef is going in too and this is a sort of casserole dish, it’s never a bad idea to add more in. Throw in some garlic, onion if you want, heck I even put some steak seasoning on mine while it’s in the pan. It’s about to get drowned in sauce anyways.
  3. Now it’s time to put it together. You can cook the sauce and add some more seasoning to it while doing so, but I usually try to have a more robust sauce on hand anyways to speed up the process and save at least a couple of burners.
  4. Start with some sauce on the bottom of the dish. Then put down your first layer of noodles. Spread out some of your meat mixture, followed by ricotta… or whatever creamy cheese you’re using. Put down another layer of sauce, and then the shredded cheese.
  5. Continue this pattern until you’ve got your desired amount of lasagna. Then fill in the edges with any extra sauce.
  6. Most importantly, if that sauce ends up dangerously close to the top of the pan, put a cookie sheet underneath when you pop it in the oven. I’ve made this mistake before – my neighbors weren’t too happy about the smoke alarm, but some dollar store oven cleaner did save the day.
  7. Pop it in the oven at 350 degrees for about 30-45 minutes – just keep an eye on it. You want to be sure the center is warm, without burning the cheese on top to a crisp.

Scoop a slice with a spatula, spoon on some of that extra sauce, and you’re set. Bonus points if you make some garlic bread to go alongside it. Enjoy!