There are few meals I love better than lasagna.
I’m not Italian, but it was always a featured, special meal for our family at least a few times a year, and ALWAYS the main course on Christmas Eve. In the last 20 years, I must have made dozens of lasagnas, both meat- and veggie-based, and changed up or tweaked the recipe at least a handful of times to try something new or just improve the original recipe. In fact, for the last 10 years at least, I haven’t even *used* a recipe, as I’d made it so many times I could do it from scratch by heart.
I always remember being interested in cooking, even when I was quite young. I didn’t always get the chance to cook, but when I did I made the most of it! One of my earliest memories of cooking was actually the time I was allowed to make my first lasagna unsupervised, for the family meal, when my mum’s new in-laws were visiting. I was so proud! And I did a great job…except for the part where I, Rachel-Geller-Friends style, mixed up two recipes together and put them into one. In my case, it was lasagna and scalloped potatoes. I still remember confidently pouring milk into the side of the casserole dish full of lasagna noodles, cheese, and meat, with my mother leaping over to my side in fast, alarmed strides to stop me before her husband’s parents saw what I was doing. But it was too late, and the dark deed was done. We put it into the oven, and I’m sure my mother prayed everything would turn out ok, as it was far too late to make anything else.
Surprisingly, and thankfully, it did turn out rather well! I remember it being quite creamy and delicious, although the memory of that dismayed, somewhat horrified look on my mother’s face will stay with me until the end of my days, and has so far prevented me from redoing that experiment…juuust in case my memory of how delicious the milky lasagna tasted was so very false ;o)
Ahem. In any case, let’s get back to present day lasagnas, shall we?
When my friends and I put forward our respective wish list recipes for the Freezer Meals back in September of this year, lasagna was on everyone’s list, so that meant finding the perfect recipe. Now, because I’ve been making it practically my whole teenage and adult life, I was most comfortable with my own recipe. Hence the conundrum: I not only had to make a bunch of lasagna (oh the horror…ok, not really), but I also had to come up with a standardized recipe for it so that my friends would know what to do (and even with that “standardized” recipe, we *still* managed to make a change mid-stream to take advantage of some extra ricotta filling we had left over from our Manicotti bake; see that post HERE).
The recipe below will make one very large pan lasagna with a little left over, or several smaller pans which you can freeze prior to baking, and then defrost overnight in the fridge and bake off at 375 degrees F for an hour and a half. Feel free to omit the ricotta filling in between the layers if it doesn’t float your boat; as I said above, it’s an extra step that we did simply because we had some extra filling available.
Note: since I’m one of those “bloody vegetarians”, as my dearly departed great uncle Willy used to call me (gotta love the crabby Scotsman stereotype), I made mine with Yves Veggie Ground Round as opposed to ground beef, and used vegan Worcestershire sauce instead of Lea & Perrins (which contains anchovies), but in every other way, this lasagna recipe was followed!
Alicia’s Kickass Lasagna
- 1 recipe Alicia’s Awesome Spaghetti Sauce
- 1 recipe Ricotta Filling (from this recipe) – optional
- 3 cups Mozzarella, grated
- 1 cup old Cheddar, grated
- 1/2 cup Parmesan, grated
- 2 boxes Lasagna noodles (NOT oven-ready style), cooked, drained, and cooled in cool water – you can substitute one box of Spinach noodles if you like!
NOTE: Prepare your assembly station with care, so that it won’t take forever to make these!
- Spread a scant 1/2 cup of sauce in the bottom of all pans (this will prevent the noodles from sticking and burning to the pan).
- Place first layer of lasagna noodles. Cut to fit in your pans so there is no overlap nor gaps (I tend to use a pair of scissors for the best control!).
- Spread another 1/2 cup of sauce over the noodles. Generously sprinkle mozzarella and Cheddar over the sauce.
- Place another layer of lasagna noodles over top.
- Spread 1/2 cup Ricotta filling over this layer of lasagna (if not using, just repeat previous steps).
- Repeat all steps, alternating cheese and Ricotta layers between lasagna noodles, until you have reached the top of the pan. Spread a final thin layer of sauce over the noodles, covering all gaps (this will prevent the noodles from drying out and burning). Sprinkle remaining Mozzarella and all the Parmesan over top.
- If freezing at this point, cover tightly and write reheating instructions on lids.
- Otherwise, cover lasagnas with lids or foil, place on a baking sheet to catch any drips, and bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees F for 30 minutes, then remove cover, turn down to 350 degrees F and bake for another 20 minutes, or until the top layer of cheese is browning and bubbling.
- Serve hot with garlic bread and a nice Caesar salad and red wine!