My sister had her baby almost 2 weeks ago.  2 WEEKS!  It’s amazing.  Soon he’ll be going to college.

Anyway, one of the things I’ve found is that families with new babies appreciate food more than anything else you can give them.  With that in mind, I made my sister and her husband a giant lasagna to keep them well-fed for the first few days home from the hospital.  With my perfect nephew.

Here is the secret to excellent lasagna: DO NOT COOK THE NOODLES!  It occurred to me years ago that pre boiling the lasagna noodles was unnecessary because they spend over an hour in the oven cooking in all those yummy tomato juices from the sauce.  So not only are they absorbing the flavor of the tomatoes, but you don’t have all that excess water in there from the noodles.  Pointless water.

I also had a bunch of leftover homemade spaghetti sauce and meatballs from my lunch that week, so all I did was add a can of sauce and another package of italian sausage browned to the sauce and chopped up meatballs I already had.  And viola!  Yumminess.

However, you will notice a lack of something very, very conspicuous.  That would be ricotta.  This is what happens when I don’t make lists.  I just put “lasagna stuff” and completely forget one or two key ingredients.  However, the flavor didn’t suffer at all, so I was pleased with the final product.  But my directions and ingredients below incorporate ricotta.

Last note, this is an EXCELLENT way to hide veggies for the kids and adults alike.  You can put them in the sauce and just blend it all up.  Then add in enough meat and they’ll never know.  I tried this on my friend’s 10-year-old son, and it worked like a charm.  Also tried it on a guy I dated years ago who claimed to hate veggies.  Worked on him too.  Gotta love the sneaky.

Classic Lasagna”

Ingredients:

  • 1 package lasagna noodles
  • 2 – 16 oz cans spaghetti or marinara sauce (get whichever looks yummiest to you)
  • 1 package shredded mozzarella cheese (normally I shred my own but this is a time saver)
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 container ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • Fresh basil
  • Any other veggies you want (frozen spinach works well, just thaw and drain well)
  • Package of Italian sausage or ground beef
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Remember: the most important thing about making lasagna is to NOT boil the noodles ahead of time.  Don’t use the instant ones either.
  3. Brown up the sausage or meat and let it cool.
  4. In a small bowl, add together the ricotta, egg, oregano and some salt and pepper.  Mix well to combine.  The egg is optional, I don’t know why I add it in, but I like it.
  5. In the bottom of a 9×13 pan, put down a layer of sauce.  Add a layer of the noodles.  Put more sauce on.
  6. Do a layer of ricotta, then sprinkle some mozzarella and parmesan.
  7. Add any additional veggies.
  8. Then another layer of sauce, noodles, sauce, mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese on top.
  9. Bake at 350 for about an hour covered, then take off cover and cook until cheese is brown and bubbly.
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