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Lasagna Two Ways — Beginner and Expert

There is nothing quite like a big plate of comforting lasagna. Perfect on a cold, Winters night, it makes for a delicious meal this time of year. With its many layers — thick tomato sauce, chunks of meat, melty cheese — lasagna can be an intimidating task. It doesn't have to be though! I've got two recipes for you to choose from, one for the beginners and one for the experts. All you need is a bit of time, a glass of wine, and a baguette for garlic bread. Let's get cooking, just

Beginner Lasagna
From Southern Living magazine

1 pound Italian sausage, casings removed
1 (26-ounce) jar spaghetti sauce with onions and roasted garlic
1 tablespoon chopped fresh or 1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
6 no-cook lasagna noodles
2 cups ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  1. Crumble sausage into a plastic colander; place over a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at high 1 minute, and stir.
  2. Microwave at high 3 to 3 1/2 minutes more, stirring every 30 seconds, or until sausage is done and no longer pink. Drain well on paper towels. Discard drippings. Rinse and wipe bowl clean.
  3. Stir together sausage, spaghetti sauce, basil, and pepper in large bowl.
  4. Spread one-third sausage mixture in bottom of a lightly greased 11- x 7-inch microwave-safe baking dish; top with 3 noodles, 1 cup ricotta cheese, and 1 cup mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers once.
  5. Top evenly with remaining sausage mixture and grated Parmesan cheese. Cover with double-thickness plastic wrap, and microwave at MEDIUM (50% power) 30 to 35 minutes.
  6. Using an oven mitt, carefully lift one corner of plastic wrap to allow steam to escape, and let stand in microwave 5 minutes before serving.

Serves 6.

Expert Lasagna
From Bon Appétit magazine

2 tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. spicy Italian sausages, casings removed
1 cup chopped onion
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. dried crushed red pepper
1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes with added puree
1 14 1/2-oz. can diced tomatoes with green pepper and onion (do not drain)
11/2 cups (packed) fresh basil leaves
1 15-oz. container plus 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups (packed) grated mozzarella cheese (about 6 oz.)
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 oz.)
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
12 no-boil lasagna noodles from one 8-oz. package
3 cups (packed) grated mozzarella cheese (about 12 oz.)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)

  1. Make sauce: heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add sausages, onion, garlic, oregano, and crushed red pepper and sauté until sausage is cooked through, mashing sausage into small pieces with back of fork, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add crushed tomatoes and diced tomatoes with juices. Bring sauce to boil.
  3. Reduce heat to medium and simmer 5 minutes to blend flavors. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made one day ahead. Chill until cold, then cover and keep chilled.)
  4. Make filling: using on/off turns, chop fresh basil leaves finely in processor. Add ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, egg, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Using on/off turns, process filling until just blended and texture is still chunky.
  5. Assemble lasagna: preheat oven to 375°F.
  6. Spread 1 1/4 cups sauce in 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Arrange 3 noodles on sauce. Drop 1 1/2 cups filling over noodles, then spread evenly to cover. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat layering of sauce, noodles, filling and cheeses 2 more times. Top with remaining 3 noodles. Spoon remaining sauce atop noodles. Sprinkle with remaining cheeses. Spray large piece of foil with nonstick olive oil spray. Cover lasagna with foil, sprayed side down.
  7. Bake lasagna 40 minutes. Carefully uncover.
  8. Increase oven temperature to 400°F. Bake until noodles are tender, sauce bubbles thickly and edges of lasagna are golden and puffed, about 20 minutes.
  9. Transfer to work surface; let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Serves 6–8.

FashionKid FashionKid 9 years
yummmy lasagna one of my favorite dishes....
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
Thanks juliegal!
juliegal juliegal 9 years
a trick i've learned is.....u dont even have to use "no cook" pasta noodles....using regular lasagne noodles is fine...the sauce and cheese will make them soft and cook them just fine....saves major time! lasagne and a big antipasto platter is such an easy entertaining meal....for the antipasto plate use some marinated artichoke hearts, red and yellow roasted peppers fr. a jar, olives, and mozz. balls etc. delish!!!
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
Yum, teach me your ways... ;)
Kaciegrrl Kaciegrrl 9 years
Mmmm, love lasagna.
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
Mmmmm yum!
heineken67 heineken67 9 years
The one good thing about using real ricotta is that you can make cookies with the leftover cheese. Yum!
LaLaLaurie06 LaLaLaurie06 9 years
my mom has the best lasagna recipe! speaking of which, i should ask her for that one.
terryt18 terryt18 9 years
Yeah, when you boil the noodles it makes it kinda mushy. I prefer a firm lasagna you can cut easily and will hold up for presentation. I'ma have to make lasagna soon.
itsallabouttheg itsallabouttheg 9 years
i've never made lasagna... maybe i will try it out when i have someone else to cook for.
lorenashley lorenashley 9 years
my mom makes a fabulous lasagna!
mamaseacat mamaseacat 9 years
Lasagna - the old time favorite! Thanks for the tip, fragiletearz. I didn't think about using cottage cheese - and you're absolutely right! Cheaper is better. For years I thought you had to boil the lasagna noodles first. (That's what my mom did.) So I hated making lasagna. Then a friend told me you didn't have to. Now I make it all the time.
julieulie julieulie 9 years
Seriously, lasagna is SO easy to make. Even the "expert" version of this is ridiculously simple. There is no reason why everyone shouldn't be able to cook a good lasagna -- it's my standby meal when my fiance invites people over for dinner but forgets to tell me until an hour before they are coming!
michichan michichan 9 years
And they freeze so well
fragiletearz fragiletearz 9 years
I just use plain old cottage cheese instead of ricotta when I make it..Same texture WAY cheaper.
emalove emalove 9 years
Thank you for this!! I'm having my girlfriends over soon to exchange Christmas gifts and have some food/drinks and I had thought about making lasagna. Perfect timing!
SummerBaby SummerBaby 9 years
ALSW ALSW 9 years
Wow. I think I could handle the expert one!
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