Lazy Man’s Lasagna [Recipe]

I got a couple requests for my lasagna recipe, so here it is. You’re going to be disappointed if you’re expecting something fancy – however, I can promise that this version is affordable, easy, and taste-tested (and found “delicious”).

Also – this recipe looks really long but trust me – it isn’t.  You can carry the shopping list in your head, and the assembly directions are here for people who don’t know how to make lasagna with uncooked noodles…. once you do the process, it’s quite simple.

Lazy Man’s Lasagna
by LJR
Makes at least 15 servings (in my pan);
prep time 30min;
cook time 3 hours + let stand 30-60min before serving

As with all my recipes, measurements are merely an approximation, and you should follow your (good) instincts.  Also, I make this in a large metal roasting pan with tall sides similar to this one (though mine isn’t nearly that high quality).

INGREDIENTS
For the sauce:
– 3 cans of spaghetti sauce – the “cheap kind” is fine, the Hunt’s (etc) $1 cans of sauce near the more expensive glass jar sauces. Mix up the flavors and pick 3 you like
– 3 cans of diced tomatoes (major brand or store brand, whatever), I like to use the ones with some diced garlic & onion added, or basil/garlic/oregano.  Plan to use 1 can in the sauce and 2 cans on top of the lasagna.
-1 lb good quality ground sausage, either “regular” or ground Italian sausage if you can find it out of its casings (Publix often carries it)
-1-2 T minced garlic (this is lazy man’s lasagna so use the jar stuff)
-2 T of either red wine or sherry
-dried Italian seasoning, salt, pepper — I use a mix of basil, oregano, and marjoram for this recipe, and use it liberally. Like 1T of each of the herbs, plus 1 tsp salt and pepper
water (see prep instructions)

For the cheese:
-3 small containers or 1 large+1 small ricotta cheese. I recommend having at least 2/3 of the cheese be whole milk ricotta, unless you’re insisting on eating this entire pan of lasagna yourself and therefore need to cut out the milk fat that provides a good consistency to the layers. But why would you make lasagna and not share it?
-1 “normal sized” package shredded mozzarella cheese
-1 can shredded parmesan — divided (half into the cheese mixture, half to sprinkle while building lasagna) – we like the parmesan+asiago blend
-2 eggs
-1 T salt
-1 T nutmeg (don’t skip this!)
-1 T garlic powder
-1 tsp ground pepper (fresh is best)
-1 T each of basil, oregano, and marjoram
-1 small box frozen chopped spinach (optional) – it adds a lot of nutritional value and most people won’t realize it’s there — thaw the spinach block in the sink or microwave & squeeze to drain out as much water as you can

The rest:
-2 boxes lasagna noodles
-1 package shredded mozzarella or blend of Italian cheeses
-more Italian herbs for the top

GROCERY LIST:  3 cans of sauce, 3 cans of tomatoes, 3 small tubs of ricotta (or 1big+1small), 2 “normal sized” packs of shredded cheeses, 2 boxes of noodles, 2 eggs (but you already have eggs at home, right?), 1 can of grated or shredded parmesan+asiago cheese, 1 box frozen chopped spinach, 1 lb sausage (preferably sweet Italian)

TO MAKE THE LASAGNA

— Make the sauce:
Cook sausage until brown, adding garlic just before the end. Once fully brown, deglaze the pan with the wine or sherry, scraping bottom to pull up browned bits. Pour in the 3 cans of tomato sauce and 1 can of diced tomatoes; then add all the seasonings. Stir but you don’t need to get it hot. In fact, DON’T get the sauce hot!  Lastly, fill one of the cans with water and add to the sauce. We need extra liquid for the noodles…..  Set aside but leave a big ladle handy.

— Make the cheese mixture:
I use my KitchenAid mixer for this:  Beat the ricotta cheese until it smooths out a little. Add everything else listed in that section (remember to reserve half of the grated parmesan) and mix until combined thoroughly. Check for salt content before adding salt, since some cheeses are saltier than others. It shouldn’t taste “salty” but it shouldn’t be bland either.  Set aside with a big spatula handy for dolloping and spreading.

— Build the lasagna:
It’s all about the layers. You’ll make two, plus a top, in this order:

  • thin layer of sauce (on bottom of pan) – I use about 1.5 cups in my pan
  • layer of noodles – they should overlap slightly but not too much; break noodles as needed to cover whole surface
  • thin layer of sauce
  • sprinkle half of the remaining opened package of parmesan cheese
  • use spatula to “dollop” & gently spread out half of the cheese mixture
  • repeat that entire process to make layer 2, including the thin layer of sauce as the first item
  • you’re probably running out of sauce but put another layer of red sauce onto the top of layer #2
  • layer of noodles
  • any remaining sauce + the two cans of diced tomatoes AND THEIR JUICE — pour on top & spread to cover top layer of noodles
  • spread the 2nd package of mozzarella cheese on top
  • spread half the 2nd package of shredded parmesan on top
  • top with a generous handful of Italian herbs & some fresh cracked pepper

Ready to bake!!

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS

Line bottom rack with a sheet of foil to catch drips. This lasagna will boil (to cook the noodles).  Cover the lasagna with a layer of foil – I recommend spraying the inside of the foil with PAM so the cheese doesn’t stick.

If you have time to slow bake, I think it tastes better. I’ll give those directions here but if you’re in a hurry, you can set oven to 400 and cook this in about half the time.

Slow bake:  Preheat oven to 350 before inserting lasagna, but reduce heat to 225 once it goes in.
Bake for 2 hours on 225.
Raise oven temp to 375 and bake for another 45-60 min to make sure noodles are cooked.
Remove foil and either bake until brown OR turn on the broiler to brown the cheese faster.

Is it done? Well, if the noodles offer no resistance, then they’re done. It’s going to look really juicy but ….

Remove lasagna from oven, set the foil on top to lightly cover, and let rest for AT LEAST 30 min.  A full hour is better.  That’s what ensures the lasagna will hold together when you cut it; otherwise you get soup. 🙂  When you insert a knife to cut, it’ll be a little juicy but hold together.

Make ahead:  The lasagna can be assembled in advance. Wrap top with Saran before foil. Can refrigerate for 24 hours or freeze and bake later. Cold lasagna won’t really affect the slow-bake directions I give, but frozen lasagna will probably take a little longer overall. (Remember to remove Saran Wrap before baking!!)

 

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