Recipes

How to Make Lasagna Easy


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How To Make Lasagna Easy

Lasagna is a classic. Most people love it and associate it with warm feelings of extended family get togethers. Still, chances are that you’re not making at home unless it’s for some kind of event. The recipes look time-consuming and daunting. 

Don’t be intimidated. Lasagna is easy. There are only 3 things to deal with, not counting boiling some noodles.

  • Sauce
  • Béchamel
  • Extra fillings like cheeses or vegetables

Pick a sauce, pick the extras and decide whether or not you want to deal with the Béchamel, if not there’s an option. Then stack it, bake it and you’re done. No big deal.

Sauces

(FYI if you can’t be bothered with making the whole lasagna, any of the sauces are great on pasta)

Meat Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1/3 lb ground beef
  • 1/3 lb ground pork
  • 1-3 lb ground veal
  • 1-2 lg onions chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic minced
  • 32 oz crushed tomatoes
  • 1 c beef stock (unsalted)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar (it takes the acid out of the tomatoes)
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil

Preparation

  1. Sauté the onions in olive oil until they’re translucent.
  2. Add garlic. Sauté for 3-4 min more. Stir it so it doesn’t burn
  3. Add the meat
  4. Brown it for a few minutes. Just the surfaces. Don’t make yourself crazy.
  5. If you start to get worried that it will burn, add some of the beef stock.
  6. Then just toss in the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 1-2 hrs.
  7.  (If you don’t have time for that, cook the meat through. That only takes about 7 min. Then you only have to simmer for about 1/2 hr.)
  8. Check on it every 1/2 hr or so and give it a stir. When it smells good and looks relatively thick, let it cool.
  9. Refrigerate for up to 3 days. Plenty of people say 4-5 but why play germ roulette. You can freeze it for up to 4 months. We freeze it.

For Sausage Sauce:

1 lb sausage substituted for the ground meat in the meat sauce recipe.

Everything else is the same as above. Brown the sausage just like the ground meat. If you can’t wait, cook it until it’s no longer pink and simmer for 1/2 hr.

Vegetable Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1-2 onions chopped
  • 1-2 cloves garlic minced
  • 32 oz crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano

Preparation

  1. Sauté the onions until translucent
  2. Add garlic
  3. Sauté 3-4 min
  4. Add tomatoes and herbs
  5. Simmer 30 min to an hour.

Duck Ragu

It’s just sauce with duck. If you’ve never tried it, don’t snub it out of hand. We’ve served it and even squeamish folks loved it.

Ingredients

  • 4 duck legs
  • About 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lg onion chopped
  • 1 carrot peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 celery stalk diced
  • 1 c red wine
  • 16 oz peeled whole tomatoes
  • 1 c beef stock
  • 1 oz dried porcini mushrooms

Preparation

  1. Sauté the duck legs in a hot skillet covered in olive oil
  2. Brown each side. About 7 min including flipping
  3. Remove the duck and put it on the side
  4. In the same pan, using the rendered duck fat, sauté the vegetables
  5. When the onions are translucent and the veg are soft add the wine
  6. Scrape the bottom and let the wine simmer for 5-7 min until the alcohol smell is gone
  7. Use a big pot and toss all of the ingredients in
  8. Simmer 1 hr
  9. Then remove the duck and pull off the meat. Toss the skin and the bones
  10. Throw the meat back in the pot and simmer for another 1/2 hr

Béchamel

Ingredients

  • 1/4 c butter
  • 1/4 c flour
  • 2 1/4 c milk

Preparation

  1. Melt the butter
  2. Add the flour slowly, stirring as you go
  3. Once it’s incorporated add the milk. Also slowly. Stirring constantly
  4. Boil
  5. Reduce to simmer
  6. Keep stirring
  7. When it’s thick. About 15 min you’re done.
  8. It’s good in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. Just cover it in plastic wrap and make sure the plastic touches the sauce. That way you avoid that gross skin that can develop

If you can’t deal with making the Béchamel, plenty of people just beat 1 egg and add it to 15 oz ricotta.

It’s not the same but it’s quick and plenty of people will never know. (Ok, that may have been a little snooty but it’s true)

Cheeses

  • 15 oz ricotta
  • 12 oz grated mozzarella
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella
  • 1/2 c grated Parmesan

Those are the standard measurements, some people like to snaz it up with:

  • 8 oz provolone
  • Or 4 oz mascarpone
  • Some people even go for Gorgonzola 4-8 oz

And there you go. Now you have a few choices:

  • Meat sauce (pick any one)
  • Béchamel
  • Cheeses

Noodles

Preparation

Boil the noodles according to the directions. Don’t overcook them

  1. In a rectangular Pyrex baking dish. Lay down a layer of sauce
  2. Add 1 layer of noodles
  3. Top with a thin layer of Béchamel or egg/ ricotta
  4. Cover in a layer of cheese
  5. Cover with a layer of sauce
  6. Repeat to the top
  7. Cover with foil
  8. Bake at 350 for 35 min
  9. Uncover and top with slices of mozzarella and or Parmesan
  10. Bake for an additional 10 min until cheese is melted and bubbly

Mushroom Lasagna

Ingredients

  • 3/4 lb mixed mushrooms
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1 box lasagna noodles
  • Pick a sauce
  • Either use the egg with ricotta or the Béchamel
  • Decide on cheeses.
  • Best bet- lighten up on the cheese by 1/2. Save calories and you won’t really miss it. If it looks to sparse add a little more before you bake it

Preparation

  1.  Remove the stems from the mushrooms and give them a coarse chop
  2. Sauté in a heated pan covered with oil for about 7 min with the rosemary. Stir them
  3. While you do that boil the pasta according to the directions on the box. Don’t overcook them.
  4. In a rectangular Pyrex dish
  5. Start with a layer of sauce.
  6.    (Don’t be a wise guy and start with the noodles. It’s a bad idea. They get unpleasantly crunchy and sometimes they burn)
  7. Then 1 layer of noodles
  8. 1 layer of mushrooms
  9. 1 thin layer of Béchamel or egg/ ricotta
  10. 1 layer of cheeses
  11. 1 cover with sauce
  12. Repeat to the top
  13. Cover with foil
  14. Bake at 350 for 35 min
  15. Remove foil
  16. Cover with sliced mozzarella and/or Parmesan
  17. Bake for 10 min approx. until cheese melts and bubbles

Done

Eggplant Lasagna

  • Exactly the same as mushroom lasagna
  • Just substitute the mushrooms with 2 large sliced eggplants
  • Sauté the slices of eggplant until they are soft
  • Or bake them at 350 for 20 min. Just brush them with oil first
  • Proceed as directed above

Zucchini Lasagna

If you want to skip the pasta and some calories try this!

Ingredients

  • 3 lg zucchinis sliced lengthwise
  • 3-4 Tbsp olive oil
  • Use the meatless sauce
  • Switch the ricotta and Béchamel for a large container of cottage cheese
  • (Don’t worry it’s still really good)
  • 4 c shredded mozzarella
  • 2 Tbsp Parmesan

Preparation

  1. Pre heat the oven to 400
  2. Oil a cooking sheet
  3. Lay the zucchini in 1 layer
  4. Brush with oil
  5. Bake for 10-15 min. Don’t let them get too brown
  6. Remove them and lay them on a paper towel
  7. Turn the oven down to 350
  8. In a Pyrex rectangular dish
  9. Lay a layer of sauce
  10. Place a layer of zucchini slices on top
  11. Add a layer of cottage cheese and a layer of mozzarella
  12. Repeat to the top
  13. Cover in foil
  14. Bake for 30 min
  15. Remove foil
  16. Cover with mozzarella and or Parmesan
  17. Put it back in the oven uncovered for 10 min or until cheese is melted and bubbly

Butternut Squash

This one’s a little different but it’s amazing!

Ingredients

  • 1 lg butternut squash cut in half
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1/4 c chicken or veg stock
  • 1 Tbsp fresh sage minced
  • 3/4 c grated Parmesan
  • 1 1/2 c shredded mozzarella
  • Béchamel sauce
  • 1 box lasagna noodles

Preparation

  1. Pre heat oven to 400
  2. Brush the squash with 1/2 of the oil
  3. Season with salt and pepper
  4. Bake for 30 min
  5. Remove from oven
  6. Scrape flesh from the shells
  7. In a food processor, combine
  8. Squash
  9. Remaining oil
  10. Stock
  11. Sage
  12. Parmesan
  13. Blend it all together
  14. Cook pasta according to directions on the box
  15. In a Pyrex rectangular baking dish lay down a scoop of Béchamel
  16. Add 1 layer of noodles
  17. Add a generous amount of squash mixture
  18. Top with Béchamel and mozzarella
  19. Repeat to the top
  20. Bake at 350 for 30 min covered in foil
  21. After 30 min remove foil
  22. Cover with mozzarella and or Parmesan
  23. Bake for 10 min uncovered until cheese is melted and bubbly

Experiment with your favorite ingredients…

Enjoy your lasagna!

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