MAMMA MIA LASAGNA

I must admit that until I made lasagna on my own terms, I was not a huge fan. Nearly all the lasagna I have tried has been at potluck dinners in which the corners of the pasta are dry, the meat bland and the sauce straight from a can and hurriedly assembled. This lasagna takes times, but the effort pays off and it can be made 24 hours in advance up to the point it is ready to go in the oven. Once you've tried this lasagna, no other will compare. Add more or less of the herbs according to taste. At the end of the day, this lasagna is best when you own it. Don't be surprised when someone asks for the recipe.

Nota Bene: The foil should not touch the top of the cheese, or all to the cheese will come off when the foil is removed. Sliced sautéed mushroom and a thin layer of spinach may be added between layers.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 pound sweet Italian sausage

  • 1/2 pound ground sirloin

  • 1/2 pound ground veal

  • 1/2 cup onion, minced

  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed

  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed San Marzano tomatoes

  • 12 ounces tomato paste

  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce

  • 1 cup water

  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds

  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Greek oregano

  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

  • 1 tablespoon + 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 6 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped + 2 tablespoons for garnish

  • 12 pieces no boil lasagna noodles

  • 16 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese

  • 1 large egg

  • 3/4 pound large mozzarella balls, drained and sliced 1/4 inch thick

  • 3/4 cup Parmesan Reggiano, grated

  • 20 basil leaves, julienned

Directions 

1.  Put the three meats, onion and garlic in a Dutch oven over medium heat until nicely browned. 

2. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and tomato sauce. 

3. Add 1 cup water and stir.

4. Add sugar, fennel seeds, rosemary, oregano, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.

5. Turn down the heat to simmer. Cover the pot and cook for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.

6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

7. Combine the ricotta, egg, parsley, basil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan in a bowl.

8. In an oven proof 9 x 13 dish, spread 1/3 of the meat sauce over the bottom.

9. Put 6 of the no boil noodles lengthwise over meat sauce (2 rows of 3 noodles).

10. Spread one half of the ricotta mixture over the first layer of noodles.

11. Top with mozzarella slices and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

12. Ladle 1/3 of meat sauce over the cheese.

13. Add 6 more noodles, top with other half of ricotta mixture, sliced mozzarella, sprinkle with Parmesan and last of the meat sauce.

14. Finish with a layer of mozzarella and a sprinkling of Parmesan.

15. Cover with aluminum foil and put in oven for 20 minutes.

16. Remove foil and cook for another 20 minutes until cheese is hot and bubbling.

17. Cool for 15 minutes and sprinkle the top with fresh chopped parsley before serving.